QUANTUM SHEEP AND THE ANIMAL ORCHESTRA
09/05/2012 - 12/05/2012
A MODERN SHOW FOR A MODERN WORLD!
“Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it”. Niels Bohr
Wednesday 9th of May sees BATS Theatre go Quantum with one of the most original live animated comedy shows since 1981’s Woolly Valley. Bringing together stand up comedy, music and animation live on stage, Quantum Sheep and the Animal Orchestra features some of the best musical, comedy and animation talent in New Zealand, including Jemaine Clement, Riki Gooch, Joe Callwood and Mike Nyland.
In a mix of traditional stop motion claymation and computer animation Guy brings his orchestra to life in front of a theatre audience. Interviewing both animals and aliens, Guy discovers how they view quantum mechanics, both in their own lives and within our shared universe. Meet a pelican that channels the fish it ate in a parallel universe, a quantum sheep who’s freaking out about the expanding universe, and an elderly alien who runs solar system knitting workshops for wealthy businessmen! Guy then joins each guest in a special musical performance.
Guy Capper has been creating and performing his unique blend of animation and stand-up comedy for the past 14 years. In 1999 he co created the youtube sensation Robert and Sheepy with Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords). Guy has performed his live interviews with claymation characters to audiences in New York, Australia and New Zealand.
Guy has collaborated with Jemaine Clement and Joe Callwood (Little Bushman) on his last seven interactive comedy shows. The last three years has seen the addition of Riki Gooch (Trinity Roots, Erudangerspiel) and Mike Nyland (Sons of Midas) to the team.
“If Salvador Dali was to try his hand at stand up comedy Guy Capper would definitely be it“– The Dominion Post
“Using interactive computer animation and stand-up lines, Guy Capper has created a completely whacky, off-beat show around the supposed interconnections between animals, aliens and vegetables” – John Mcbeath Adelaide The Advertiser
“Guy Capper put’s his heart and soul into his performance” – The Evening Post
As part of the NZ International Comedy Festival 2012
GUY CAPPER – THE ANIMAL ORCHESTRA
Dates: Weds 9 – Sat 12 May, 9:30pm
Venue: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, CBD
Tickets: Adults $20, Conc.$14, groups 6+ $15
Bookings: 04 802 4175 www.bats.co.nz
Duration: 50 min
For a full line up of performances, booking details & more information, visit www.comedyfestival.co.nz
Undisciplined and aimless
Review by Jonathan Price 21st May 2012
Guy Capper’s latest show presents us with his trademark blend of stand-up, animation and music. The theme this time round—“What is string theory?”—is mulled over by our host and pitched to a number of animated interviewees, but never quite solved. The routine progresses like a surreal television talk show, with Capper introducing his lineup of claymation guests to address the audience from outer space via a projected “internet feed” (read: prerecorded video).
The conceit is an interesting one, and the show starts promisingly with an animated prologue, featuring an amusing zen-alien- guru figure who propounds hopelessly vague philosophies on the beginning of the universe. Then Capper takes the stage, and here on in the show is a mess. Capper’s performance is undisciplined and aimless. He anchors himself to a small spot on the left-hand side of the stage and lets forth a stream-of-consciousness monologue which sounds like Spike Milligan trying his hand at Beckett. Except it’s not funny. Nor does it sound rehearsed. Nor does it look like Capper is really trying very hard.
He sometimes elicits giggles when his rants reach a feverous pitch of absurdity, but these moments are few, and virtually disappear by the second half. It is a shame; Capper’s breakneck pace (when he’s feeling up to it) and unflinching leaps of absurd logic could provide the kernel of a truly exciting and surreal comic experience. But his lack of structure, presence, purpose, and effort squanders the production. Those that laughed were often laughing at him. The rest, I think, were stoned.
The animated interviews are evidently the mainstay of the routine, and Capper introduces a number of the characters like old-time favourites (clearly they have appeared in previous shows). The less said about these the better. The interviews
are prerecorded, but it seems Capper’s collaborators (including Jemaine Clement) suffer from the same lack of focus and, well, jokes as he does.
Capper often got lost in the interviews, and the guests answered different questions to the ones he asked. The creatures rely on a Flight-of- Conchords-style awkward, self-deprecating humour, but the muddy, jerky animation prevents the human empathy required to make it work.
The question of string theory is neglected, revealing the show’s premise for what it is: an excuse to do more of the same, tired routine. It is telling that the prerecorded component of Capper’s show is just as uninspired as the live one. Here is a comedian with very few ideas, and no inkling of how to present them.
Quantum Sheep and the Animal Orchestra reveals that there are greater mysteries in the universe than string theory. Guy Capper is one. His ticket prices could do with some scientific analysis too.
With soundtrack contributions by Joe Callwood, Jemaine Clement, Riki Gooch, Rosco Jones, Mike Nyland and Daniel O’Brien.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Review by John Smythe 10th May 2012
That so much trust and good faith can be so poorly rewarded … .
The title and publicity pitches are promising. The introductory screen image of a sitar-playing Alien (voiced with panache by Jemaine Clement, I think; once more there is no programme) suggests a quality show to come, as it orientates us to the Big Bang 13.5 billion years ago, Quarks, String Theory – Aha! This is why we have found a loop of string on out seats on arrival! – and the Fourth Dimension.
“Mr Dewey Cracker” is announced and Guy Capper shambles on in a tangle of string. Yup: a visual joke right there. He is in weird mode straight away, murmuring into the mic that John Key is his mum, mums can be fun, weirdness doesn’t matter …
From a table mostly adorned with strange soft toys and the odd vegetable, he selects a toy car: “Who’d like a car?” Feeling awkward at the lack of audience response – already alienated, which Capper may argue is bang on theme – I offer to take it. Hey, we’re in set-up time; these things will be paid off down the track …
But they are not. There is no further mention of John Key, the car is forgotten; a random mention of Paul Holmes, an execrable Björk impression and something about his feminist mother (not JK; his real one, I suppose) go the same way, like space junk, flaring briefly as it vaporises but junk nevertheless.
“I’m not stoned,” he keeps on saying, but he gives a convincing impression of being so. Why? The odd moment of straightness indicates it’s all an act, which only makes it all the more bewildering. Doesn’t he know how boring stoned people can be at parties when they are deeply within their own heads and incapable of coherence let alone conversation?
The ‘lives crosses’ to various (pre-recorded) aliens, voiced by guest collaborators and computer-animated by Capper, who interviews them from the stage, are welcome breaks from his nonsensical rambles. Initially it seems we are to be treated to some clever humour arising from the notions of quarks, string theory, parallel universes, etc … but these sequences also deteriorate into incomprehensible blather, alleviated by some relatively interesting visuals.
I become increasingly bored as the hour wears on. So what am I missing? When such luminaries as Jemaine Clement, Riki Gooch, Joe Callwood and Mike Nyland lend their vocal and musical skills to the enterprise in good faith, I have to assume they saw something in there worth backing.
Reviewing him in the 2000 Laugh Festival, I wrote: “Guy Capper’s post-modern Comediation, for all his talent as an animator and language-mangler, finally adds up to less than the some of its parts for me.”
But later that year he joined Duncan Sarkies, Jemaine Clement, Taika Cohen, Bret McKenzie, Ben Fransham, Gabe McDonnell, Jo Randerson and Carey Smith in the Bats/Stab production AAARGH! –The Live Movies, and during each performance he manipulated and shot (with a video camera) a claymation kumera, building a data-bank of images which came into its own for Attack of the Giant Kumera, a King-Kong-style disaster epic set against the Beehive and Parliament Buildings.
Of his contribution to the 2001 Laugh Festival – the same week Flight of The Conchords launched themselves with Folk the World – I wrote: “Totally anarchic to the point of complete incomprehensibility sometimes is Guy Capper in Plasticine Gets Stranger (Bats). An accomplished claymation expert, he links such pre-recorded mini-features as The Galaxy Game, The Pen (two sheep in a bar) and an interview with Helen Clark on the Arts Package, with semi-improvised stand-up riffs that are invariably more weird than wonderful. Outer space – ‘We’re there now’ – is almost a linking element. A musing on James K Baxter meeting Janet Frame in space is hugely promising but the night I went, I think he took our riveted silence for boredom and he ditched it. Damn.”
Later that year he offered Plasticine Gets EVEN Stranger, and I lost faith that “the nonsense raves that nevertheless had the tone, rhythm and shape of coherent communications could be the basis for some seriously ‘post Dada’ entertainment.” However, “If you have no need of meaning,” I wrote, “if you don’t need to trust there to be method in the madness – or if you are happy to project your own form of order onto the mad-Capper’s chaos – this may well prove to be your cup of the proverbial. I can’t say it’s mine.”
“Without doubt,” I wrote of the reprised pre-taped animations, “there is real skill in those hands, an extraordinarily active brain in that shaggy-locked head, and a mouth and tongue that can almost keep up with it. But the imagined meeting of James K Baxter and Janet Frame in outer space, that I saw such promise in back in May, has degenerated into a manic mumble-fest. And in the end the whole show is just random chunks of muddled matter spinning out into space.
“All those ‘free associating’ raves, which Capper seems to enjoy enormously, are finally oppressive to us when we’re offered no place in the conversation … I’m still old fashioned enough to believe some sort of exchange of – or engagement with – thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations, insights and/or experience has to occur before theatre can be said to have happened.
“Or maybe I’ve missed the point. Maybe I am the stranger of the title and Capper’s plasticine has just got even with me.”
Still hoping to crack the code, then, I approached his 2007 show Interviews with the Universe with positive anticipation, only to conclude nothing of value happened (click the link to read the review). Yet I still hoped this year’s show would see his potential realised at last.
It gives me no pleasure to say I feel insulted that he thinks the ‘space junk’ he’s messing about with now as part of the highly contested Comedy Festival is worth anybody’s time and money.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer