Hangry Americans EXTRA SPICY

Te Auaha, Tapere Iti, 65 Dixon St, Wellington

16/05/2018 - 19/05/2018

NZ International Comedy Festival 2018

Production Details

Hungry + Angry = Hangry. American expat comedians Molly Sokhom and Neil Thornton bring you a night of no-fries-left-behind comedy. 

Exploring the intersection of food and fury, they confuse carbs with love and hunger with boredom. They show you how to eat your angst, with a combination of stand-up comedy and a chaotic interactive cooking show. 

Expect mayhem and high blood sugar. 

“If Doritos came in the flavour of Sokhom and Thornton, I’d eat a bag a day.” – Art Murmurs 

Twitter – @HangryUSA

Te Auaha – Tapere Iti (Little Theatre)  

WED 16 May – SAT 19 May 2018 
Full Price: $20 | Concession: $16
Group 6+: $16 | Cheap Wednesday: $16
*service fee may apply

Wheelchair accessible; Occasional bad language; Adult themes

Theatre , Comedy ,

1 hr

American food: rich in anthropological interest

Review by Michael Gilchrist 18th May 2018

“Make them do something dirty with it!” This from an audience member to the presenters of Hangry Americans Extra Spicy, a late night comedy show on now at Te Auaha’s Tapere Iti or Little Theatre. Onstage are two willing audience participants, each with a Twinkie in their hands. 

Food, well its more than just food in America, as it is everywhere – but nowhere, perhaps, is it so processed: chemically, psychologically, ideologically. Why? Charles de Gaulle famously asked, “How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?” Getting your cheese from a spray can – cheese itself coming in at number nine on the list of ingredients in the can – is one answer to that question.

And the title of this show points to the way processed food ties a citizen into the boom-bust cycle of rampant capitalism on a daily basis. Sugar rush – courtesy of high fructose corn syrup, the crack cocaine of sugars – followed by hypoglycaemia. Result: Hangry Americans, particularly Trump voting, god fearing, white bread Americans, as moody and self-consumed as the Donald himself. 

An introductory video does a good job of filling in this background and then our two hosts enter, bringing the bounty of their home country. The format is based on an infomercial and the show drives along in great good-humour as the audience are encouraged to sample the most egregious examples of product and participate in creating the most outrageous combinations of food and drink. Call this latter activity DIY processing, as practised in America.  

Molly Sokhom and Neil Thornton do a great job of exploring the many dimensions of their scenario, contrasting food from Wellington (fennel seeds on a donut – you’ve got to be kidding!) while pointing out that we have plenty of our own favoured forms of instant gratification. What works particularly well is the informal atmosphere that develops, with both performers being candid, funny and intimate.

This allows for the complexity of our relationship with this food to emerge. It’s not possible to maintain a purely objective, satirical posture toward substances as potent as these. Sokom and Thornton are both appalled and captured. There’s shame but also an unavoidable defensiveness. Eating a burger is “doing something dark” – but it’s also saying, along with Laurie Andersen, “Hold me Mom, in your long arms”. And having Americans in the audience laughing and relating in an equally unselfconscious way – “Are there any in there” asked one with genuine longing, pointing to the (empty) box of Krispy Kreme donuts on set – adds to the texture.

Early on in the show, there’s room for some tightening up and stronger punchlines – although an initial technical glitch on the night I’ve attended won’t have helped with this. But the late night scheduling, in a cool new venue, is ideal for entertainment as indulgent and informal as this. And the material is rich in anthropological interest – importance, even. What are the dirty things you can do with a Twinkie? You need to know. 


Editor May 20th, 2018

Exactly right Maria. Corrected. Thank you. 

Maria WILLIAMS May 19th, 2018

*Te Auaha 

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