Bodega, 101 Ghuznee Street, Wellington

08/05/2014 - 10/05/2014

Comedy Chamber, Town Hall, Auckland Live, Auckland

15/05/2014 - 17/05/2014

NZ International Comedy Festival 2014

Production Details


Come on a sexual odyssey with Australian award winning musical comedian Kai Smythe as he explores the human condition through the power of soul music at the 2014 NZ International Comedy Festival. Featuring an 8 piece band consisting of the best emerging soul musicians Australia and New Zealand has to offer, Hairy Soul Man will slowly undress your inhibitions and make sweet passionate love to your imagination. Join this comedy music extravaganza under the proscenium arch of the Auckland Town Hall from 15 – 17 May and Wellington’s own Bodega 8 – 10 of May.

Hairy Soul Man will transcend the comedy genre to blow the clothes right off the audience using infectious grooves in a sexually explosive (think confetti canons) stage show. Ranging from serial killer love songs to the lament of the first world blues, this show will extract soul and blues music from its roots and inject it into the modern context.

Hairy Soul Man (Kai Smythe) has been creating and performing his own independent theatre, music and film projects and a graduate of the Victorian College of Arts. Smythe co-created In Search of Atlantis which toured nationally in 2010 picking up the Melbourne Cabaret Festival Award at Melbourne Fringe and nominated for Best Cabaret at the Adelaide Fringe. In 2011, he co-wrote Sexytime! a physical comedy based on the history of attraction. The show enjoyed a sell-out season at the 2011 Melbourne International Comedy Festival and critically acclaimed performances at the Adelaide Fringe and Edinburgh Fringe.

Heading up the 10-piece soul band will be Musical Director James O’Brien. O’Brien is a Melbourne based composer and musician. Starting his career at the Conservatory of Music in Brisbane, he went on to co-create The Boat People, a four piece indie rock band. The Boat People toured nationally and internationally, receiving numerous awards and repeat airplay on Triple J.

Please follow the link to the official music video Loving Myself youtube.com/watch?v=HzE0aENcISM and/or watch a few clips of the live performance in Melbourne youtube.com/watch?v=Jx-I_2vXVvg  

Winner – Melbourne Cabaret Award, Melbourne Fringe “Pure Genius.” – Herald Sun, Melbourne

As part of the 2014 NZ International Comedy Festival in cahoots with Old Mout Cider, grab some mates and join us for a great night of laughs from 24 April – 18 May. For the full Comedy Fest show line-up head to comedyfestival.co.nz

Dates: 8 – 10 May, 8.30pm
Venue: Bodega, 101 Ghuznee St, City
Tickets: Adults $28, Conc. $25
Bookings: undertheradar.co.nz

Dates: 15 – 17 May, 7pm
Venue: Comedy Chamber, Auckland Town Hall, 303 Queens St
Tickets: Adults $28, Conc. $25
Bookings: 09 970 9700 or ticketmaster.co.nz

A wholly worthwhile international class act

Review by Nik Smythe 16th May 2014

The smartly dressed band enters first, launching directly into the opening bars of that classic intro refrain Gimme Some Lovin’ – the same one the Blues Brothers use – then straight into the especially appropriate Motown classic Soul Man (after which it’s all original). The titular hirsute spirited fellow shuffles in like a Sasquatch James Brown, shrouded in a tall furry hooded cloak. Then he flings it off to reveal the speckled brown suit, green shirt, tie and sneakers, brown-tinted aviators and close-cropped chops so wide, if they were any wider they’d be a beard.

There are fifty odd patrons at the Auckland opening in the Concert /Comedy Chamber: a third or so full which feels a tad on the empty side. This does not stop Melbournian comedian Kai Smythe (no relation), aka the Hairy Soul Man, baring his heart, lungs and tailored brown suit for our blues-rock funking pleasure, backed by his seven exceptional musicians. 

It takes a bit of effort at first to generate the appropriate party energy in the spacious room with their potent combination of solid grooves, slick moves, salacious come-hither looks and a powerfully eloquent vocal range. However, we’re totally on board by the time he’s finished demonstrating how anything you say, no matter how banal, can sound sexy when you have a 7 piece soul band behind you, even an IRD tax declaration. 

By the time he’s getting everyone up for a soul-cleansing dance it’s a generous invitation, not an imposition – although he warns us against ever trying it in a pub in his unspecified regional Australian home town. 

Blues-based soul music is arguably one of the most humanist forms of music, evidenced by Smythe’s song topics that stretch the gamut of classic rock-topics: love, self-love, self-loathing, heartbreak, loneliness, depression et al. 

The accomplishment of the entire band cannot be understated, as led by musical director and scruffy-haired bass player James O’Brien, not to mention the sultry lass in the peek-a-bang hairdo whose back-up vocals add necessary sweetness to Mr Man’s primal soul.  Add some lightning-fingered lead and rhythm guitar, steamy keys, solidly syncopated drums and thriving horns (trumpet and trombone), and you can’t go wrong.  Not with these cats, anyway. (Sorry I didn’t catch all their names; no programme and they’re not named in the media release either.)

Resembling a skinny Ron Perlman in a Nick Cave suit, ‘Hairy’ swaggers with a self-importance that at first seems typical of your wannabe rock star attitude, as indeed it is as he belts out his soulful anthems in his gravelly wailing Dr-John-meets-I don’t-even-know-who blues-rock voice.  But rather than alienate us by basing his comedy entirely on hubris, as others might, about two thirds in he gives us more of the real Kai Smythe, both physically as he reveals his mild case of gynecomastia, and emotionally as he explains the impact it had on him growing up: both the initial trauma and the subsequent life-affirming philosophy that no-one is perfect but everyone is awesome, especially him.

This being an independent touring production in a busy festival, Smythe implores us if we’ve enjoyed the show to “make sweet sweet love to that internet” to get the word out on this wholly worthwhile international class act.  Thereby, consider this my cyber-erogenous contribution to the cause.

You can also like them on Facebook and catch their cool vid on YouTube.


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A frenetic yet well-crafted and solid-as soul explosion of comedic entertainment

Review by Maraea Rakuraku 09th May 2014

You know how some people’s talking voices are toned in such a way, it makes you think immediately of a smoking jacket clad, cigar smoking, Alan Rickman lookalike sitting on a leather Chesterfield swirling Jägermeister? And how they could pretty much read the telephone book and all you’re doing is closing your eyes and enjoying the experience? Well this Australian act Hairy Soul Man is a little like that.

Add in A-grade musicianship, suited-up musicians, some pretty hi-lair-rious well-crafted compositions and a frontman with a hella swag and you have what I can only describe as a frenetic yet well-crafted and solid-as soul explosion of comedic entertainment.

Vying for audience in a jam-packed Comedy Festival programme, it’s such a waste that fewer than 20 people turn up to see Hairy Soul Man on their opening night. To their credit they give it their all. Professional as.

As for Kai Smythe. Ar..ar…ow (that’s meant to howling). He is one helluva showman: hella sexy with killa sideburns. He oozes soul and for a whiteman, oodles of swag. He channels James Brown and Elvis Presley in his white jump suit martial arts heyday. He’s fantastic.

There’s the songs and then there’s the banter between songs. It’s all practiced true and hilarious and surprisingly not irritating considering how he talks his persona up. It’s proof (I guess) that, with the right level of showmanship, professionalism and musicianship you can pretty much sing anything and the audience will follow and believe you.   

Even when Smythe steps down from the stage and moves around the audience I don’t have the usual opossum in headlights panic. This is like a relaxed music gig. We’re all there to have a good time and we do. He encourages us to a dance off and when one punter jumps up enthusiastically, it’d be stink not to join in and, in the darkness of Bodega, we do.

There is some nakedness. Yes, that does happen. No it’s not R18 but ups to him for sharing. I actually learn something that had he not pointed out I wouldn’t have even noticed. That too ends up being a segue to something else. Nice one. Brave too.

We learn half the musicians are New Zealand ring-ins (keyboards, baby-faced horn section and the back-up vocalist which, to an extent explains her hesitation and lack of chemistry with Kai Smythe and the core crew; a pity because her lack-lustre presence is a little distracting). Zac Rush, the lead guitarist: that is some impressive guitaring and as we know it ain’t nothing without the rhythm section.  Sorry, I didn’t get their names.

I randomly selected Hairy Soul Man and I can only encourage you to do the same for whoever and whatever remains in the Comedy Festival Programme. C’mon Wellington fewer than 20 people at a gig is a little pathetic. 

Hairy Soul Man has similarities to one of our more well-known musical acts and if you go you’ll know who I mean. But they have their own mana too.  Am I recommending this? Hell yeah. They’re in Wellington for the next two nights. Take a crew, trek it to Bodega, dance off. Enjoy.


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