Funk Rabbit (Canada)

BATS Theatre, Wellington

06/05/2008 - 10/05/2008

Comedy Underground, 305 Queen St, Auckland

29/04/2008 - 03/05/2008

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details


Julian Faid and Derek Flores are "Funk Rabbit!" Two men, countless characters and infinite possibilities!  From a single suggestion a web of improvisation entanglements spins dangerously out of control. It’s a funny, fast paced, electric, and always on the edge comedy show.  Funk Rabbit; the way improv is supposed to be!

Funk Rabbit was first birthed as a collaboration of two improv cavaliers Derek Flores and Julian Faid. Together with nearly 30 years experience in Improvisational Theatre Internationally with shows in Canada, The United States, Australia and Scotland (Edinburgh Fringe). Funk Rabbit will spontaneously combust with rapid fire comedy created in-part by the willing audience.

Funk Rabbit brings a fresh and energetic style to Improv, with imaginative senarios crafted from experience, timing and carrots. Funk Rabbit have created an Improv format based on ‘The Harold’ format created in Chicago with plans to introduce this vastly different style to New Zealand stages, laughing in the face of failure and kicking conventionality to the curb while attacking the stage with energy and unpredictability. 

Funk Rabbit will be performing in Auckland at The Comedy Underground and in Wellington at Bats Theatre, come and experience the show that will leave you stupefied, in stitches and incredibly hungry for no apparent reason.  

"…A virtuoso, riotously embodying some oddly afflicted and inventive characters" – The Adelaide Advertiser

Dates: April 29th – 30th and May 1st – 3rd, 8:30pm
Venue: The Comedy Underground, Wallace Trust Gallery, 305 Queen St, Auckland
Tickets: Adults $18, Concessions $15 (service fees may apply)
Bookings: TICKETEK – 0800 TICKETEK(0800 842 4175)

Dates: May 6th -10th, 8pm
Venue: BATS, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
Tickets: Adults $16, Concessions $13 (service fees may apply)
Bookings: BATS – 04 802 4175 or

Show Duration: 1 hour   

1hr, no interval

An all-too-short hour of unrelenting hilarity

Review by Nik Smythe 01st May 2008

In other reviews of improv shows I have despaired at the shallowness that is seemingly inherent in the form.  Julian and Derek, the Canadian cast of Funk Rabbit, have addressed this issue to some degree.  It doesn’t exactly increase the levels of meaning or deeper insight, but the whole exercise carries more depth of field if you like.

What happens is they saunter up in their Reservoir Dogs outfits and advise us to lower our expectations if we’re wanting to enjoy the show.  Then three People’s Coffee prizes are awarded to each audience member who provides a theme, a setting and an animal around which to formulate the story. 

Then they’re off, taking most of an hour to weave an intricate tale complete with memorable characters, touching relationships, personal journeys and retribution. 

So on Wednesday night the theme was second hand clothes and naked girls in hats, as extracted from punter’s favourite Prince song Raspberry Beret.  Actually the second-hand clothes bit got a bit lost; however, fortunately, the naked hat-wearers were properly represented.  The setting was Utopia (well they did ask for a non-geographical location!) and the animal was a panda, that is to say it turned out to be an army of ten thousand vicious trained army pandas running amok.

Ten or so scenes in we’ve met the key characters in the story: the boy and husband of a woman tragically murdered by a panda; the gruff army officer sent to convince the ex-‘flying army’ pilot, discharged for indiscriminately bombing French people when they weren’t at war with them, to return to service and save the world; and the psycho ex-girlfriend who imprisons her would-be ex in his home ’til he falls back in love with her.

At this point I wonder how they will manage to tie all the seemingly disparate elements together.  then I find out… it’s far too complex to explain properly and the story will be entirely different the night you go anyway. 

All in all Funk Rabbits Julian and Derek combine quick witted humour, solid caricaturisation, if there is such a word (is now), and effective physical comedy to bring us an all-too-short hour of unrelenting hilarity.  


nik smythe May 17th, 2008

i guess perhaps i was exaggerating talking of despair and shallowness being inherent and such. i do enjoy improv, when it's good obviously, and tend to have high expectations from Canadian companies given their historical pioneering expertise being the original home of Theatresports. in this instance i was not disappointed. John correctly summarises my main point that improv commonly operates on a shallow level (not a flaw, just what happens), and it's a bonus to encounter something even a little bit more intricate.

Aaron Alexander May 15th, 2008

I do see where you are coming from, John. And you are quite right to say that acknowledging the potential for failure with improv heightens the praise of a success. However, the bit where Nik 'implies that looking for deeper meaning would be futile' must have been too subtle for me. I read that, in Nik's opinion, 'shallowness' is a flaw 'inherent in the form' of improv, and that Funk Rabbit's show addressed this flaw only 'to a degree'. I saw no acknowledgement or implication that Nik thought it was unreasonable or futile to expect 'levels of meaning or deeper insight' when attending an improv show. Anyway, I don't want to dissect the review piece by piece. I just felt the need to make a couple of general points clear. - Shallowness is not inhrent in the form. The form is too varied for this to be possible. At best I could say that shallowness is _common_ in local improv. (Personally, I'm not concerned about layers of meaning in improv. I'm happy to leave the quest for deeper insights to the playwrights and devisors and concentrate on giving our paying customers a good night's laughter) - I question the use, in a review, of statements to the effect that 'improv can sometimes fall flat' (especially when the particular perfomance that is being reviewed was an acknowledged success) when this is true of all forms of theatre. My concerns are that it could create unwarranted doubt and hesitation in the minds of potential patrons, and it contributes to the general low regard in which improv is held within the industry...but I won't open that can o'worms. Obviously, Nik is free to review any and all shows, improv or otherwise. My point simply was, if you actually don't like improv, Nik, if you find the form too shallow for your taste - fine. I daresay you're far from alone. But if that is the case, I questioned if you are best placed to judge it on it's merits. Particularly if you walk in looking for something that, as John states it's futile to look for. Anyway, I apologise for hijacking Funk Rabbit's review. Congratulations to them on a great piece of work.

John Smythe May 15th, 2008

Aaron, may I point out that Nik was alluding to shallowness versus levels of complexity. Personally I’m very aware that improv tends to celebrate pop culture genres and stereotypes, giving value more through the ‘how’ than the ‘what’. Nik implies, quite rightly, that expecting “levels of meaning or deeper insight” would be futile but he does value the greater “depth of field” Funk Rabbit brought to their show. The Improvisers do the same, with many more participants – and I think it is a function of the long-form challenges both groups set themselves, as opposed to the ‘sketch’ formats of basic improv shows – which can sometimes, like junk food, “fail to satisfy” (as Michael notes). Perhaps, with improv troupes at the top of their game challenging themselves with long form concepts, we do have grounds to say it’s inevitable they will be good; that “unrelenting hilarity” can be guaranteed and should be expected. But surely the risk of literally ‘losing the plot’ remains so great that it’s more valid to marvel, time after time, at how the pit-falls are negotiated with such extraordinary alacrity. I have no intention of asking Nik to disqualify himself from reviewing improv. And I certainly agree that it is a very high form of performance art: the ‘pentathlon’ of theatre crafts.

Aaron Alexander May 15th, 2008

Sorry for pouncing Michael. It's a nerve, is all. A personal bugbear.I apologise if I made you feel like I was attacking you, personally. But I stand by what I said above. The 'improv is sometimes not funny (even though this time it was hilarious)' comment is so common it's actually a joke among improvisiors that IF you get a review it's two to one that'll be the opening line.

Michael Wray May 15th, 2008

Woah there. I was stating a personal preference where, for me, I have found improv to be amusing but fail to really hit my funny bone. Perhaps I should have added a "me" in my original sentence. My observation was that Funk Rabbit made me laugh. A lot. Probably the most since the first time I saw Wheelers Luck. I merely started my comment the way I did to illustrate just how good I thought Funk Rabbit were. It would be like you going to a Jazz gig and saying how much you liked it although you don't normally like that form of music. Sort of. I also enjoyed, but nowhere near as much, Spooked at Circa. I would have liked to have caught the rock thing too.

Aaron Alexander May 14th, 2008

You know what, Michael? Scripted theatre often fails to satisfy as well, yet I'd be laughed at if I suggested that this was due to an inherent flaw in the form. As I've said before, it's so tiresome to read, again and again, blatantly contradictory statements to the effect that 'improv is usually crap - yet on this occasion it was hilarious'. With, of course, the implication that the hilarity was some kind of one-off abberration an no doubt the show will be crap again the following night. All forms of theatre - in fact all forms of art (human endeavour?) can fail in their aims if either conceived or executed badly. Yet you don't label the sport of football as crude and inelegant after watching your son's under-7s swarm around the ball one Saturday morning. If you or Nik seriously believe there is a 'shallowness' or other flaw 'inhherent' in a form as varied and wide-ranging as improvised theatre, I'd love to hear your arguments. Because I get a little agitated reading sweeping statements casually tossed about that denigrate a form of theatre that I, and many others, work very, very hard to produce at the highest standard. In the course of that effort, we entertain (thigh-slapping, doubled over, holding in your wee entertain) hundreds and hundreds of people a year. And Nik, may I suggest that you next time the chance to review an improvised theatre show comes along, you pass the task to someone else. You clearly have developed a predjudice against 'the form'. It'd be like me reviewing a jazz gig. Pointless, and no good to anyone.

Michael Wray May 11th, 2008

I agree completely Nik - Improv often fails to satisfy, but Funk Rabbit were brilliant last night at Bats. Volcanoes, "The" Lake and wannabes (thanks to the Spice Girls)... an unlikely set of ingredients for three story threads that were all brought together hilariously. Oh, and Reservoir Dogs? My first thought when I saw Julian was that he looked like a paler, skinnier Samuel Jackson from Pulp Fiction... definitely a Quentin Tarantino theme going on then.

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