Te Auaha, Tapere Iti, 65 Dixon St, Wellington

02/12/2022 - 08/12/2022

Production Details

By Joana Simmons
as Banana Jolie

We don’t need thigh gaps, we don’t need to tone up, we need the truth.

After selling out in Melbourne, Adelaide, Raglan and Whanganui, Joana Simmons, aka Pun queen and Princess of Peel Banana Jolie is FINALLY bringing her colossal one woman show to Te Auaha in Wellington. By popular demand, cardio comedy cabaret show CONFESSIONS OF AN AEROBICS INSTRUCTOR is here!

It is a high-octane workout of belly laughs. Joana Simmons, who plays her aerobics alter ego, Joy, is airing her workout and work stories as an aerobics instructor and exercising all sorts of demons from body image to active wear; gym, Jim and GIN.

Featuring original songs, high-powered pop and rock staples and full power aerobics, it is “comedy and theatre at it’s absolute best.”- The Upside (SA)

Joana first started aerobics with her mum in the Whanganui church hall when she was still in primary school, and started teaching classes when she was 17. Since then, she has instructed a range of programs at gyms all across Melbourne (where she established her career as a performing artist, Wellington is lucky to have her), including working with mental health patients. This show has been her answer to navigating body image, diet culture, exercise addiction and perceptions of strength. It is “both larger than life and deeply human” (The Upside News)

Banana Jolie has performed in a variety of genres and festivals including; Splore Festival (LET’S TALK ABOUT PEELINGS), NZ Fringe Festival (SPIRITUAL BANANA, PUTTING THE G’DAY IN CABARET), Adelaide Fringe Festival (SA), Splendour in the Grass Festival (NSW), Melbourne International Comedy Festival (VIC), Melbourne Fringe Festival (Putting the G’Day in Cabaret), The Village Festival, and Falls Festival (VIC, NSW, TAS). She was a semi-finalist with “Miss Friby (and the Fribbles)” on Australia’s Got Talent. An all-round comic, Joana has featured on professional line-up stand up comedy shows as an act and MC in Wellington, Whanganui, Auckland and Melbourne.

This show is tighter than a tush in a pink-sequinned leotard. A perfect night of gut-busting laughter entertainment for December’s festive functions. Prepare to feel the deep burn in your thighs and get a solid abdominal workout of laughs when sweaty secrets are laid out to dry in CONFESSIONS OF AN AEROBICS INSTRUCTOR. The weight is over.

“She’s that good a comic” – 4 stars – The Adelaide Advertiser

“both larger than life, and deeply human” – 5 stars – The Upside News

“delicious comic word play just seems to keep rolling off Joy’s tongue.” – 4.5 stars – The Clothesline

Tapere Iti – Te Auaha, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington
2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th December 2022
TICKETS: $27- $35
Group discounts available

Comedy , Solo , Theatre ,

Rowdy, entertaining, energetic and willing to look at the darker side of its subject

Review by Tim Stevenson 03rd Dec 2022

“Witness the fitness!”
“Get to the wall of breathless and give it a kiss!”
“If you’re looking for that one person to change your life, look in the mirror!”

Yes, that’s right – with a whoop and a holler and a blaze of glitter, Joana Simmons is giving us a 50 minute workout in what makes an aerobics instructor tick.

Although ticking isn’t quite the right word here. Simmons dances, sings, tells jokes based on implausible puns, does fearsomely energetic-looking aerobics routines, plays the guitar – but no actual ticking. You don’t miss it, though, there’s so much else going on.

The format is straightforward. Mostly, Simmons delivers a short routine on a theme, then the music comes up and she does some moves, or sings, or both. After that, she might finish off with another reflection or two before moving on to the next theme.

The themes could be anything from your undies getting bunched up under your tight lycra costume, to thinking someone in your class is hot, to the existential struggle with a tempting desert. There’s a definite sense of development, with the themes being pitched as different levels of confession. The show starts out light and frivolous. By the end, it’s reaching down into the depths of body image, food guilt and the components of self-worth.

All this is served with a ton of energy, gym anthems played loud and a lot of wisecracking. Simmons’ promotional material describes her as Pun queen, amongst other things, which gives you fair warning. She likes audience involvement and you get a sense of her playing off the shared energy. It’s easy to imagine her in the gym, exhorting her flock to leave it all on the floor.

I enjoy the physical routines the most – Simmons really puts herself through a workout in the show and some of her more inventive moves really shine. I love the routine she does with a fitness ball and there’s a funny little walk she does after a hard session that never gets tired.

Lights and sound are vital to a show like this, and the tech folk deliver the goods.

I have noticed, as I wait for the doors to open, that just about everyone in the first night audience is young and hip. I wonder how they will respond to the material, with its vaguely 80s associations, but they love every bit of it.

On the whole, group fitness classes been well treated by the world of Art – think Olivia Newton-John’s Let’s get physical video, or, if you can handle it, John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis in Perfect. Rowdy, entertaining, energetic and willing to look at the darker side of its subject, Confessions of an Aerobics Instructor takes a well-choreographed step in the direction of righting that long-standing wrong.


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