El Jaguar Book (Fight) Club

The Classic Studio, 321 Queen St, Auckland

21/05/2024 - 25/05/2024

NZ International Comedy Festival 2024

Production Details

Derek & Michi Flores co creators.

Meegwai Productions

Not your ordinary book club.

Former WWF masked wrestler El Jaguar returns to NZICF with El Jaguar Book (Fight) Club.

Just like the title suggests, 8 randomly chosen (audience suggested) books enter the literati ThunderDome, and 1 book leaves. It’s like Highlander, but with books.

“….a great and experienced improvisor.” – Chortle, UK

“…a rip roaring show of immense proportions….fearless comedy…” – Theatreview, NZ

The Classic Studio
May 21-25

El Jaguar
Michi (music)

Comedy , Theatre ,

60 mins

The rules of Book (Fight) Club insist I say nothing but this show is too funny to stick to the rules!

Review by Leigh Sykes 22nd May 2024

I am unfamiliar with El Jaguar (Derek Flores), the masked Mexican wrestler who greets me as I enter The Classic Studio. A quick search reveals that he has a significant catalogue of shows and has over 25 years of international improvisational experience.

His appearance (as my companion later describes him during the show) is interesting, wearing a classic wrestling outfit in red, complete with red knee-high socks and a mask. He brings great energy and commitment to his performance and his interactions with the audience are warm and funny, so that everyone is ready to join in once the show begins.

El Jaguar Book (Fight) Club is described as a show for those who love book clubs and those who hate book clubs. While the idea of book club may seem an odd choice for comedy, this show makes the most of this premise to create an extremely funny and engaging hour.

Having been asked to write a memorable book title onto a slip of paper as soon as I sit down, I am pleased to see a bag full of titles placed purposefully onto a small table in the performance area, where many jars of Best Foods mayonnaise are already placed. The significance of the mayonnaise is addressed later in the show.

El Jaguar starts the show by getting to know the audience and is soon winning people over with his responses to the information they offer. He is quick to find things ‘nice!’ and it very soon becomes apparent that everyone in the room is there to enjoy the experience.

After this introduction, the main material begins. Unfortunately, due to the rules of Book (Fight) Club I should say nothing more …

… however, this show is too clever and too funny for me to stick to the rules!

The show really is exactly what the title suggests – a fight between eight books that are suggested by the audience. El Jaguar describes the contest as a literati thunderdome, and his description of this has the audience roaring with laughter.

It’s remarkable how much humour El Jaguar is able to generate from his interviews with the audience about the books they have chosen, and this shows hugely impressive improvisation and observation skills. It also shows how knowledgeable El Jaguar is about a range of books, helping his audience to describe what they like best about each book.

El Jaguar is able to riff on the themes and ideas in the books, sometimes starting into unconventional territory, but always getting a response from the audience. One description of the author of the Harry Potter book series greatly entertained the audience.

Each book is given due consideration before the audience decides which one should progress to the next round. This all happens quite quickly, and soon the fight between the final two books is improvised in wonderfully funny detail before an eventual winner is crowned to the delight of the audience.

From a simple premise, El Jaguar creates a show that leaves me feeling energised and very entertained. It’s a real treat to see such a sharp and switched-on improviser, who makes audience interaction enjoyable rather than uncomfortable, and this show is a fabulous way to engage with the Comedy Festival.


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