Jim Stanton – Bangwagon

BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

23/05/2023 - 27/05/2023

NZ International Comedy Festival 2023

Production Details

Presented by Kickin' Rad

With a life full of distraction, derailment and small dependents, Jim Stanton is back on the comedy stage with her unique wit tinged with silliness and frustration.

Turns out any distraction can be a derailment when you discover you have ADHD at 39! A show about discovering, coming to terms with, and not bothering to spell check anything before jumping on the ADHD bandwagon. Perfect for anyone who has ever asked, “Am I actually going mad or just living in 2023?”.

“Sharp, droll and charismatic…” – Theatreview

“Stanton is, as always, a pro.” – Theatreview

BATS Theatre, The Dome
Tues 23 – Sat 27 May 2023
Price: $20 – $25
Time: 9PM
Book: https://www.comedyfestival.co.nz/find-a-show/bangwagon/

Comedian – Jim Stanton

Comedy , Theatre , Solo ,

50 minutes

Like a glittering explosion from a kaleidoscope with cracked and distorting mirrors

Review by John Smythe 25th May 2023

Bangwagon? What’s a Bangwagon?

Turns out it’s a perfect example of what happens when a person with ADHD gets distracted and fires off her blurb to the NZ International Comedy Festival without proofreading it.

Having discovered, at 39, she has ADHD, Jim Stanton has returned after a long absence from the comedy scene with: “A show about discovering, coming to terms with, and not bothering to spell check anything before jumping on the ADHD bandwagon. Perfect for anyone who has ever asked, ‘Am I actually going mad or just living in 2023?’.”

That Neurodiversity bandwagon has certainly rolled into town for this Festival, along with another featuring Millennials, proving both conditions are to be embraced and celebrated as the prevailing zeitgeist. I’ll leave it to someone high(er) on the Autism spectrum (aren’t we all somewhere on a neurodiverse spectrum?) to compare, contrast and chart the correlations.

Up in the BATS Dome space, we settle into the zone before the show even starts, absorbing the implications of a multi-coloured rag rug, a massive pile of colourful discarded clothes, a blue bent-metal chair with matching table holding a hand-painted metal teapot and polka dot cup and saucer, a glitter-clad file box and, dangling above it all, a festive array of colourful paper lampshades.

A prologue finds Jim sitting cross-legged on the floor, engaging in meditation wherein the disembodied coaching voice gradually morphs into her own distracted and discursive thoughts … It’s a brilliant way to give her packed house a vicarious experience of being in her head before Jim bounces back on to deliver her lively stand up/ run around/ mile-a-minute commentary; not so much observational as highly subjective comedy. Yet very relatable. And funny.

Looking at my notebook’s scribbled pages of incomplete and disconnected notes, I have to wonder if the condition isn’t contagious. Wes Anderson, Marie Kondo and the Bechdel Test all get a mention by way of her recalling how she viewed herself before the diagnosis; how she was regarded as a lazy idiot when she knew she wasn’t. And by the way, ADHD is a misnomer … Does Dr Google help?  

Also, who thinks HAZMAT is an acronym? Have you ever filled out forms for a psychiatrist? How many time periods are there in your daily life? Does your brain have faulty filters? As for what you remember and what you don’t, how do you compensate for your short-term memory losses?

The file box is used to demonstrate order before a spectacular evocation of chaos takes over – proving the ‘bang’ in her title is, well, bang on after all. The heap of discarded clothes harbours other surprises.

Jim’s romanticised childhood obsession with early European settler history affected her perceptions then and now they’ve become a cultural minefield. Also as an adult, her parenting style is a rich resource for relatable comedy, especially when blended with hopeless optimism. Her before- and after-parenthood reading habits are revealing. And punters of a certain age will be delighted to witness the resurrection of the Eketāhuna joke!

Of course mentioning all these elements presupposes each performance will be the same, which aficionados of ADHD may doubt. But there is a script, and Jim’s claim to have memorised it is entirely consistent with ADHD skills, except … being easily distracted tends to derail the train of thought. The good news is that her producer, director and technical operator, Jen O’Sullivan, is also – when called upon – her prompt. Just a couple of words gets Jim back on track and we’re off again. Their co-dependent relationship is a dynamic and endearing feature of the show.

There’s heaps more packed into the show – ASMR, role models, eating habits (or lack thereof), chin hairs, the heighted senses of a mother, fear of opening lunch boxes … Speaking of which, have you ever wondered what happens to people who fail to fart? Dreams, getting up early (or not), inappropriate flirting and being back in the dating world … Yes, that is a favourite stand-up theme but have you ever wondered how Jane Austen’s characters would define themselves on Tinder?

The reality of growing up thinking you’re BAD because you relate to life’s challenges and opportunities in a divergent way brings it all into focus. Jim ends her show on a note that’s either wildly optimistic, genuinely pragmatic or something else entirely, take your pick.

I’m tempted to sum up Bangwagon as a glittering kaleidoscope, except for all the complex patterns they create, the results are neatly geometric. Maybe if the kaleidoscope had cracked and distorting mirrors, then exploded … Yes, that’s about right.

Or go and make up you own mind. Why should I assume yours works the same way as mine?


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