James Nokise TALK A BIG GAME

Cavern Club, 22 Allen St, Te Aro, Wellington

02/05/2017 - 06/05/2017

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

09/05/2017 - 13/05/2017

NZ International Comedy Festival 2017

Production Details

James Nokise has spent the last 10 years focusing on biting political satire, then Brexit happened, then Trumpocalypse happened. So this year it’s jokes on sports, New Zealand’s favourite pastime! If John Key can retire from politics, then so can James.

From Cairn’s cricket controversies, to running against Nick Willis, to stealing Valerie Adam’s shoes. He’ll theorise as to why Steven Adams is the end of the All Blacks; why he’d rather take on Manu Vatuvai than Maria Tutaia; and why Richie McCaw may be Jesus. He’s talking World Cups, World Champions, but no world events.

May contain traces of politics.

2-6 May 2017

Q Theatre LOFT
9-13 May 2017

Theatre , Solo , Comedy ,

1 hr

What We Talk About When We Talk About Sport

Review by Nathan Joe 11th May 2017

James Nokise opens the show by telling us that this year he won’t be focussing his comedy on politics, and instead he’s decided to turn his attention towards New Zealand sports. It’s a simple and straightforward premise that Nokise beautifully subverts. Beginning with a brief explanation of why he’s made this decision, recapping events such as the flag referendum debacle and the dildo thrown at Steven Joyce, he then moves on to each individual sport that our country celebrates, naturally ending with Rugby.

But it’s no mistake that in discussing these sports, and the environments and cultures surrounding them, that Nokise ends up looping back to politics. As audience members we quickly realise how impossible separating the two is. That we don’t naturally see the two subjects intrinsically linked, is our first problem as a nation, and Nokise plays on that expertly. [More]  


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From the sport of politics to the politics in sport

Review by Nik Smythe 11th May 2017

James Nokise’s been doing this a while now.  I’ve observed and reviewed him in the past, impressed by his pacey, intelligent socio-political wit, and with the speed and articulation of his improvisational interactions with his audience. 

This time around he’s changing his usual game, kind of.  Given the insanity of the last couple of years of politics he’s decided to turn his focus to New Zealand’s greatest obsession (besides drinking): sport. So he tells us. Then he embarks on an extended political rant about the flag referendum, the Treaty, Reality TV, Brexit, racism, airport Customs and – inevitably it seems – Trump, Key and English, for a solid ten or more minutes as a sort of train-of-thought preamble to this new sporty angle he’s selling us.

Basically the show is a list of sports for which New Zealanders and/or persons from the wider Pacific regions have been noted for at some point in history, some of whom he regards as pioneering role models.  There are pro-wrestling heroes King Haku, Jimmy Snuka and more currently The Rock.  There’s Valerie Adams and Steven Adams, Joseph Parker and David Tua, and of course the countless icons among the various forms of Rugby at which our proud nation excel. 

Inevitably the eloquent examinations into the machinations of the various games and pastimes are liberally seasoned with timely social commentary, in particular the continual struggles with racism and misogyny within sporting communities and their fans.  It’s not habitual obsession so much as an unapologetic assertion that sport can never really be separated from politics inasmuch as politics can’t really be separated from anything, except by denial – another popular local pastime. 

As much as Nokise is given to address people directly and put them on the spot, it somehow doesn’t feel as confronting or awkward as less adept audience-interactors might make it, with his deft skill at both boldly decrying stereotypes while simultaneously gleefully exploiting them. 

I don’t necessarily agree with every single view he expounds but he makes a good many excellent points and everyone has a good laugh: job done. 


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