Joel Salom’s Gadgets

Downstage Theatre, Wellington

11/05/2010 - 15/05/2010

NZ International Comedy Festival 2010

Production Details


Comedy show that has toured 5 continents comes to Wellington 

“The irrepressible Joel Salom is an outstanding all-round comic, whether as a skillfully inept acrobat or artfully off-colour juggler … popping ping pong balls out of his mouth, flinging clubs impossibly fast … playing electronic percussion with bounced balls and executing an hilarious reversal on the old dropped-pants shtick. He’s also the genius behind the show’s other stand-up comic, a blithely satiric little robot dog named Erik”. – Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle 2007

Gadgets is an eccentric yet robust work able to “wow” an audience on many levels. It is a music concert, a comedy, a circus show and a theatrical event featuring unique technology and a smart-alec robot dog.

Devised by former Circus Oz funny man Joel Salom, Gadgets is an exciting and demented rollercoaster ride through circus, technology and live music. Musicians Jim Dunlop and Marko Simec perform a bent mix of pop, classical, death metal and jazz fused with gypsy swing sparking moments of hilarious improvisation and audience participation.

Special guest, Erik the Dog, is a sharp, irreverent, smooth-talking, remote-controlled tin terrier with attitude; he brings the audience to their paws with his antics. Joel and Erik have performed at festivals on all five continents.

“Erik had the cynics in stitches, no bones about it.” 
Sun Herald 


Joel Salom is a diversely experienced and charismatic performer who is simultaneously a comic, rapper, juggler, gadget man and MC Extraordinaire. Joel’s alter ego Erik the Dog a 2-foot-tall, fast talking, arse sniffing phenomenon was a regular on O’Loughlin on Saturday Night (ABC TV).

Joel has developed ideas combining music and juggling including JAMIDI, which is a juggling activated musical instrument with a digital interface. JAMIDI is a unique juggling system that triggers samples of beats, bass lines and laser animations which Joel continues to refine. 

Joel’s talents come to life with a musical rollercoaster from Jim Dunlop and Marko Simec.

Jim has toured the world with Circus Oz for the last 4 years honing his talents of blending character comedy and music. He has performed with an exciting mix of theatrical bands, mainly in the world of cabaret and has produced his own big musical acts, including Butt Funky.

Marko Simec is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and performer. Marko has toured with diverse companies from Circus Monoxide and Plasticien Volante (France) to performing with live bands Wicked Beat Sound System notorious gypsy punk jazz band Waiting for Guinness. He regularly collaborates with film and theatre companies and the advertising sector.

Since 2006, the company has performed seasons at the Hoopla Festival (Sydney), the Glen Street Theatre (Sydney), Woodford Folk Festival and the Taranaki Arts Festival (New Zealand). In 2008 the company embarked on an epic 4 month, nationwide tour supported by Playing Australia and have taken Gadgets internationally to the Keo-Chang International Theatre Festival (Korea), Festival O Gesto Orelhudo and Sai Pra Rua (Portugal), Karavaan, Cheese Market and Venlo Veerasst Festivals (Holland), Kulturufer Festival, Friedrichshafen (Germany) and La Plage des Six Pompes (Switzerland).

Joel Salom’s Gadgets 
Dates: 11-15 MAY 
Times: 7pm Tue-Sat (all ages) and 9pm Thu-Fri (Adults Only).  
Prices: $35 to $25.    

Goofy gadgets mighty impressive

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 13th May 2010

Joel Salom’s Gadgets (from Oz) is loud, brash, and brilliantly executed.

Gadgets is a frenetic show full of ingenious if wacky gadgets, spectacular laser lighting effects, and an appealing if loopy robotic dog called Erik, who has God-like fantasies but luckily all he really wants to do is his daring trick of jumping over a small member of the audience.

Joel Salom, who looks vaguely like an elongated, rubber-limbed, baby-faced Mel Gibson, can hold up to four ping-pong balls in his mouth at one time. He also happens to be an absolute wizard of a juggler.

His big finish is to juggle with fire which is far more impressive and less painful on the eyes than the rhythmical laser lighting effects which are controlled electronically from his forearms while he’s juggling.

It’s all slightly goofy and yet mighty impressive and so are the two musicians, Marko Simec and Jim Dunlop, who not only provide some exciting musical accompaniment to the juggling and the sequence with Erik but also some of the comedy too.

The audience participation is non-threatening though I’m glad I didn’t have to throw burning torches to Joel Salom to catch as he juggled with five of them.
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Vibrant, inventive and hugely entertaining

Review by John Smythe 12th May 2010

Part of me wants to take Downstage to task for favouring Australian shows over Kiwi ones at this year’s NZ International Comedy Festival but the fact is no-one on our comedy circuit seems to be offering anything like the creative ingenuity, performance skills and production values brought to us by Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane (last week, now playing in Auckland) and, this week, Joel Salom’s Gadgets.

If the result is to challenge our performers to up their game, or to encourage more non-standup performers to bring their skills to the festival, it’ll be worth it – and that, of course, is a major objective in hosting any international festival.  

Joel Salom comes to comedy from a Circus Oz juggler and ‘funny man’ background, to which he adds an ingenious talent for creating electronic gadgets – hence the title of his show.

A shambling but eager intro from musicians Jim Dunlop (drums and mini guitar) and Marko Simec (keys and harmonium) sets up the entrance of burnt-red-suited Salom, all gangly limbs and bug-eyes as he pops ping-pong balls from his mouth and juggles them.

The bulging-cheeked, knuckle-dragging creature he becomes could be straight out of a Far Side cartoon by Gary Larson. With the musos’ collusion it also becomes a totally batty routine. Indeed Simec and Dunlop prove to be adept at juggling the odd item too at time, almost by accident, it seems. A bonus.

Eric the Dog with the God complex makes his first appearance projected on screen so his threat of Judgement Day and selection of 6 audience members to represent the human race – ingeniously achieved – is not to be trifled with. His entrance (yes, he has the silver balls to prove his gender; balls are a recurring theme in this show) is all the funnier, then, when he proves to be diminutive.

On opening night a delightful young girl called Bella was eager to help Eric perform a mini Evel Kinevel-style stunt. Most effective in the end, however, is the little tin dog’s capacity to express a range of emotions. He is a truly poignant clown characters.

Joel – who strangely is never on stage with Eric – returns to play the juggling fool, and the hugely dextrous performer, with a clutch of flash batons. Juggling them while removing his jacket, dropping his trousers and hoisting them against (how does he do that?) has to be seen to be believed. The spin he puts on them at the climax is truly spectacular.

The next gadget is a hat with mic attached, allowing for much fun to be had with morphing an audience-member’s voice. But that’s not all: the voice is sampled then Joel dons electronic arm bands with sonic touch-pads and proceeds to work more magic with the aid of three juggling balls, escalating it into a wondrous techno-funk music and laser light show finale.

Make sure you demand the encore. Joel’s balancing act with an electric didgeridoo is a treat. As for the fire-juggling … Wow!

As a vibrant, inventive and hugely entertaining example of the lively Aussie comedy scene Joel Salom’s Gadgets could be the knee in the balls / the balls in the air / the challenge to match that the Kiwi comedy scene requires. Not to be missed.


John Smythe May 12th, 2010

Having generalised about Kiwi comedy I have to say Jarred Fell appears to be an exception. Anyone else?

In raising this question I do not mean to belittle the value of stand-up comedy. Those addressing topical political themes can function as today’s equivalent of the court jester /monarch’s fool. Those delving into their personal experience of the human condition can speak for the fallible, vulnerable, gullible ‘clown’ in all of us.

And there can be more to comedy shows than that …

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