Puppies, cnr Tory & Vivian Streets, Wellington

05/05/2014 - 08/05/2014

BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

12/08/2014 - 16/08/2014

NZ International Comedy Festival 2014

Production Details

Man on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was conceived one night at 4am during a very creative panic attack. Showing from the 5 – 8 May as part of the 2014 NZ International Comedy Festival and named after a song from the influential Flying Nun band The 3Ds, Man on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown investigates anxiety and its effects on people’s everyday life – how it can destroy, create or sustain friendships; get you addicted to the internet; and make you ask all the right questions: What is wrong with this world? What is wrong with me? The answers are lots and nothing. This will be super inspirational.  

Man on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown follows thematically from Eamonn Marra’s 2014 New Zealand Fringe Festival comedy monologue Respite. It deals with Eamonn’s personal experience with anxiety and depression, but more importantly, his recovery, how he deals with it, how it influences the way he thinks, acts and creates and how we shouldn’t have to be ashamed of mental illness as a part of our lives. This show is self-produced, and follows a DIY aesthetic and philosophy that are vital to Eamonn’s outlook and creativity.

Eamonn Marra is a comedian and writer living in Wellington. He has performed his solo show Eamonn Marra/Everything Else in Wellington and Christchurch. He appeared in We Just Want People to Like Us with Alice May Connolly, and opened for veteran comedian Raybon Kan, in the 2013 New Zealand International Comedy Festival. He is 24 years old and is in his sixth year of his undergraduate degree. This will be his first solo show in the New Zealand International Comedy Fest.

As part of the 2014 NZ International Comedy Festival in cahoots with Old Mout Cider, grab some mates and join us for a great night of laughs from 24 April – 18 May.

For the full Comedy Fest show line-up head to comedyfestival.co.nz

Dates: Mon 5 – Thu 8 May, 8.45pm
Venue: Puppies, Cnr Vivian & Tory Sts
Tickets: Entry by koha
Bookings: eamonnmarra+comedy@gmail.com 

Eamonn Marra’s Man on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown returns – to BATS (out of site) after winning ’Best Wellington Newcomer’ award in the 2014 New Zealand International Comedy Festival.

Man on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was conceived one night at 4am during a very creative panic attack.

Eamonn investigates life with anxiety. How anxiety can destroy, sustain or create relationships; get you addicted to the Internet; and make you ask all the right questions. What is wrong with this world? What is wrong with me? The answers are; ‘lots’ and ‘nothing’. 

This will be super inspirational.

Bats Theatre (Out Of Site) 
Tue 12 – Sat 16 August 2014, 7pm

We leave feeling informed, affirmed and warmly human

Review by John Smythe 13th Aug 2014

Eamonn Marra has not, of course, planned to open this return season of Man on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown – which won him the Best Newcomer Award at this year’s NZ International Comedy Festival – on the day Robin William’s death is announced. Indeed as we file into the Bats (Out of Site) auditorium, he hands us a flyer / programme which includes the following:

“After the news of Robin Williams death this morning I have mixed feelings about performing a comedy show about anxiety and depression. Comedy is one of the ways I get through it, but it alone isn’t enough. We need support, love and respect from each other. I hope I can help and if you ever feel these feelings, tonight will assure you that you are not alone. That’s all I can really do for now. Love each other.”

Halleluiah and pass the crisps. That’s his trade-mark: bowls of potato crisps for us to pass around during the show. Nice. He also passes round lists of affirmations of himself which we are asked to call out: a simultaneously self-affirming, -effacing and –aware device.  

So how does a reviewer approach such a show in such a context? 

Well the first thing to say is Eamonn Marra’s on-stage style could not be more opposite to that of Robin Williams. Williams was loud, hyper and apparently hugely confident; Marra is quiet, unassuming and apparently lacking in confidence (he says as much), which makes the very existence of his show an impressive confidence trick.

What they share is a desperate need to be liked and affirmed, which overtly informs Marra’s self-aware material and was more subtextual with Williams.

Williams was a baby boomer whose live shows were rich in political satire and observational comedy about the whole wide world if not the cosmos. Marra is Gen Y – “we are narcissists who take selfies and have Twitter accounts” – and his shows (the other being Respite in this year’s Fringe) are about himself, except for one quick crack at Coca Cola advertising and his apologetic go at mimicking the “old people” who say hard work is the answer to anxiety and despression.  

(Of course when a chemical imbalance produces the anxiety and depression, no amount of logic and reason can replace appropriate medication, unless a specific behavioural cause for that imbalance can be identified and successfully avoided in the future.)

Being a baby boomer myself, and therefore old, whose co-dependent disposition is ‘rescuer’ (including of those who have no desire to be ‘rescued’), I find myself wanting to ‘fix’ Marra by counselling him to turn his gaze to a wider horizon and put his energy into contributing to others because that’s how you know you are valued and how you get the good stuff back. But of course that’s what he’s doing with his shows: isolating the personal and particular for the entertaining edification of us all because the personal is political, the particular is universal, and it’s impossible not to empathise with him in a “there but for the grace of (insert your choice of higher power) go I” way.

Thus his flip-charted intentions and counterpointing fears are funny simply because they are true. And because he invokes such low expectations, including of the guitar-playing with which he accompanies his original songs, the only way is up when he makes an insightful, whimsical or poignant point through prose, poetry or song.

The adage that comedy is truth plus pain is proven as he makes quietly casual references to his love life, masturbation and strategy for not feeling lonely at night.

It is a simple, observable fact that Eamonn Marra’s opening night audience leaves feelings informed, affirmed and warmly human as well as entertained after spending an hour with this Man on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.


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Gen Y Thinker and Patient Punters

Review by Maraea Rakuraku 06th May 2014

On my way to the gig I spot someone in shorts and a t-shirt taping a poster to the door, bet that’s it, having never been to Puppies and sure enough, it is and the someone is Eamonn Marra. Oh no, that’s not a good sign. Inside, in what seems to be a classic at-the-beginning-of-my-comedy-career venue, is a rugged up, mainly 20-something crowd, aka his mates.  

I hate that cynical type of comedy that some New Zealand comedians seem to favour. At one stage I do find myself analysing whether that is what’s going on here, a player playing the audience making you (the audience) the subject of the joke. It’s not though. He’s too vulnerable and sincere though not ‘grotesquely’ sincere as he accurately calls it, on a sheet of compliments that circles around the audience and he asks to be yelled out randomly.   

As the flow is a little disjointed and a yawning gap of silence begs to be filled it occurs to me, this is what it’s like to witness someone dying onstage. But everyone is rooting for Marra. Everyone, including me. Though he elicits genuine empathy he still has to earn it. On a crappy cold night, damn straight he has to earn it and that’s regardless of the free kai handed out at the beginning with the proviso we like him.

He’s a thinker and it shows, in the ’zine he hands out in the end, the lyrics of the songs he sings (though man, tune the guitar) and – in what is a highlight for me – a poem he reads. It’s also in the telling of some pretty solid jokes. One, 20 minutes in, is one of the best self-deprecating yet universal jokes I’ve heard in a while and deserving of a tweet. That’s good because the empathy card could get a little tired for a less kind crowd.

Subjects covered off include the Illuminati, masturbation, the internet, tv shows, selfies – pretty much everything that occupies the mind of Gen Y.  Even, The Breakfast Club gets a mention. 

Musically he reminds me a bit of that Dunedin sound at its heights of Dunediness, taking me back to The Chills gigs from the early 1980s I never went too. A little bit depressing, a little bit monotonous, a little bit prolific. 

Preparation has gone into Man on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. He just needs to practice, practice, practice.  I say this because there is a danger he will attract cruelty and I wouldn’t like that to happen him, remembering I don’t know how far he has come. While inevitably it’s ‘dues’ and would toughen him up, it may actually destroy him.

While Marra says he’s not a fan of confidence, a confident delivery is what this could do with because he has the structure of a solid act that could get lost with less patient punters. It’s koha and it’s on for the next few days. Go support him and see for yourself. 


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