Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

15/05/2012 - 19/05/2012

NZ International Comedy Festival 2012

Production Details


2011 Top Comedy Award Winner Jarred Fell is bringing a whole new show to NZ. Dating back to where Comedy and Magic first started in the style of Side Show, FREAK SHOW will be show combining the art of Magic, Comedy, Illusions and Dangerous Stunts. 

With a story and a behind look into what Magicians and Entertainers used to do on stage with his own twist. This will be very unique show that has never been done before.

His impressive award collection stands at:

2011 – Rielly Top Comedy Award – The Variety Artist Club, NZ

2010 – Billy T Award Nominee – NZ Comedy Festival

2009 – Top Senior Stage Magician – International Brotherhood of Magicians

2008 – Best New Comer Nominee – NZ Comedy Guild Awards

2006 – Rising Star Award, The Variety Artist Club, NZ

“One of my Favourite Acts to work with. Wish I could have taken him on Tour with me Everywhere” – Steve O – Jackass  

Dates: Tues 15th – 19th May, 8.45pm 
Venue: The Loft, Q Theatre. 305 Queen St 
Bookings: 09 309 9771 or online www.qtheatre.co.nz  

Comedy and magic not taken "to new heights"

Review by Stephen Austin 16th May 2012

When I was about twelve years old, I had aspirations of being a stage magician and performing the sort of spectacle I saw on TV.  I also had a pretty low-brow sense of humour, mostly enjoying scatological jokes and the violence of cartoon humour. This is about the level that Jarred Fell works at in his latest show. 

Some flashy animations introduce us to Fell’s world of freaks and he bursts on to stage promising gore, magic, comedy and more. 

However, aside from a few scant references peppered throughout, the ‘Freak Show’ of the title is only really explored in the top end of the show with a slideshow of various well known physically deformed circus performers.  There’s also not a lot of respect for the subject either – we’re expected to simply point and laugh at the funny looking people.  There’s no real remorse or follow-through for this.

Fell introduces us to “the only real freak of the show”, his friend Clayton Cameron, a cross-dressing singer who presents a small repertoire of songs that try to offend everyone and ultimately offend no one.  There are a few guffaws to be had here in some sexy mincing of some silly songs, but this performer feels a bit out of place with this audience and almost outstays his/her welcome.

When Fell returns to the stage the freak themes are dispensed with and only the promised magic and comedy remain.  A lot of the humour hits the mark well with the opening night audience, but it really doesn’t create anything more interesting than a standard magic show. 

Weren’t we promised some gore and violence?  Despite a couple of marginal moments (an audience chosen card found by coughing it up and a failed knife throw), it’s all a bit standard card tricks and ho-hum illusions, without the viscera or tension.  The festival programme notes actually promised razor swallowing, Russian Roulette and that Fell “takes comedy and magic to new heights.”  I am witness to none of this. 

Fell is certainly generally slick in his presentation from the get-go and has a friendly, but crass, playfully punchy demeanour with the crowd.  He gets plenty of laughs when simply interacting with the audience and is at his best when he’s improvising with an audience member, ready with a quick comeback.  It is clear he is an excellent performer.  It’s just unfortunate this show is quite under-formed.

I feel there was more opportunity for real production here, had some more thought been put into a through line of the original ‘freakish’ conceit, but time and constraints of performing in this festival may have put the kibosh on many of the higher concept set-pieces Fell may have been aiming for. Having to rely on tried-and-true illusions and card tricks coupled with busking routines doesn’t really work quite as well for a paying audience.

Even my twelve year old self is pretty disappointed. 


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