JAMES ROQUE Boy Mestizo The Return

BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

07/05/2021 - 08/04/2021

NZ International Comedy Festival 2021

Production Details

James Roque’s smash-hit Boy Mestizo is back! A finalist for the Fred Award for Best NZ Show at the 2019 NZ International Comedy Festival, Roque brings his hour of “too real” laughs back to Wellington for two shows only.

“Messy, engaging and my favourite show this festival” – Metro Magazine

James always thought his hang-ups about being brown came from when he landed on Kiwi soil. Now he realises he may have accidentally checked-in some baggage back in the Philippines. Join him as he unpacks it all – who knows what will come out. But there will be karaoke.

James Roque is one of Aotearoa’s sharpest comics on the live stage and the TV, as seen in Jono and Ben, Funny Girls, Only in Aotearoa, Have You Been Paying Attention?, and 7 Days. He is also one third of Frickin Dangerous Bro, who released their TVNZ series Frickin Dangerous Bro… on the Road at the start of the year.

BATS Theatre The Dome 
7 – 8 May 2021
The Difference $40
Full Price $25
Group 6+ $22
Concession Price $20

Please contact the BATS Box Office by 4.30pm on the show day if you have accessibility requirements so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.

Check out the full line up in the 2021 NZ International Comedy Festival with Best Foods Mayo from 4 – 23 May.

Theatre , Stand-up comedy ,

1 hr

Crucial socio-political message personalised in a highly entertaining way

Review by John Smythe 08th May 2021

One of the many self-revealing stories James Roque tells in Boy Mestizo involves his strategy for counterpointing his partner Esther’s rigorous honesty in reviewing the Airbnb places they’ve stayed in. It’s hilarious. I only wish I could be bluntly critical about what his show leaves to be desired so my partner Liz could counterpoint it with kindness. The problem is we agree Roque’s show is faultless (and only on twice, and sold out in Wellington before he takes it north then on to a screen production).*

Kiwi-Filipino James is friendly, charming and disarmingly honest as he unpacks the ‘being brown’ baggage he thought he’d saddled himself with growing up in NZ, only to find there’s a case to answer in the Philippines, on his return after 20 years away.  

Of course there were “little things” that were said and done here, to make him feel ‘other’, not least when he worked as a children’s party entertainer. Catching up with his many Filipino relatives (his dad had 12 siblings) didn’t give him a feeling of belonging either. As for the assumptions they made because there are YouTube clips of his TV appearances in NZ … Let’s just say riding that ‘fame-wave’ can get you into trouble, as we learn from the twists and turns in his Karaoke Premium big night out story.

Indeed there are many things to learn and relearn as we laugh with empathy and in recognition of ourselves – which applies to the Filipinos in the audience as well as the Kiwis, albeit from different perspectives. For example, James’ Grandma’s putting in her order for great grandchildren is basically a universal trope, although this request would prove to mean more than he realised at the time.

The term ‘mamsir’ is amusingly explained. But it’s the word ‘mestizo’, which means mixed race, that takes us to the heart of James’ deftly structured show. The video clips of TV commercials that extol the virtues of lighter skin, and the astonishing results of the social experiment he conducted with French-Canadian Esther and without her, are heart-breaking.

When I was at school we were taught Ferdinand Magellan was a great explorer (as were Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, James Cook, et al). Now we know they were the advanced guards of colonial forces whose arrogant treatment of non-European cultures continue to resonate centuries later. But I hadn’t known, until seeing this show, that Magellan’s agenda was to impose Christianity on the Philippines, and that he met his end by trying to convert one group by force.

James cleverly frames the true purpose of his show in a song-and-dance sequence entitled ‘Confessions’, reframing his Grandma’s request for babies, enlightening us about Mactan leader Lapulapu’s confrontation with Magellan, and telling the tale of how he finally proved to himself that he was a “real Filipino” – with unforeseen consequences. Only a performer who has totally won-over his audience can get away with telling that story in such graphic detail.

A lively karaoke celebration of The Battle of Mactan, intercut with visual reminders of the stories we’ve been treated to, brings James Roque’s Boy Mestizo The Return to a rousing conclusion and his audience to their feet in heartfelt appreciation.

Stand-up comedy comes to us in many different ways and I especially welcome one like this, that has its crucial socio-political message personalised in a highly entertaining way.
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*Go to James Roque’s website and scroll down see the itinerary – then scroll on for details of his Boosted campaign to fund a screen version as a contribution to “an urgent conversation about the traumatic effects of colonisation.”


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