SKY CITY Theatre, Auckland

12/05/2013 - 12/05/2013

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

Now in its third year, it’s time to celebrate the Queen and Country with a fresh import of Comedy from across the Commonwealth, at Le Comique – Sunday 12th May at Auckland’s SKYCITY Theatre. 

Co-hosted by highly acclaimed ex-pat icons Jarred Christmas (NZ/UK) and Urzila Carlson (SA/NZ), with a line-up that’s guaranteed to entertain and delight you, with a hilarious taster of comedy from around the world. 

Joining Christmas and Carlson on stage are the titillating talents of the miraculous comedium Ian D Montfort (UK), the charming Markus Birdman (UK), the saucy sisters of high-end filth Titty Bar Ha Ha (UK), our very own silent superstar The Boy With Tape On His Face, and many more… even a Welshman.  

Throwing something new into the mix, for the first time ever the on-stage shenanigans will be accompanied by the Le Comique house band; NZ’s premier lounge singer Vance Fontaine and His Peculiar Sensations. Having unleashed his sultry crooning ways to ‘Princes and Kings, the glitteringly rich and the down at heel, for the famous and the infamous, the powerful and the downtrodden’ it seems only fitting that we allow Vance and his world-class band to weave his on-the-spot stories and songs in this Commonwealth comedy celebration.

With all this said, it’s fair to say that the stage is set for a show which the likes of which have never been seen by the modern world. Keep calm and comedy on!

For the sweetest deals and hottest comedy news throughout the Festival head to www.comedyfestival.co.nz 

Sun 12 May, 7pm
SKYCITY Theatre, Level 3, Cnr Wellesley St West & Hobson St
Ticket range: $39.50 – $45
Bookings: 0800 TICKETEK (842 538) www.ticketek.co.nz
*Service fees will apply.

Eclectic showcase goes into bonus time

Review by Nik Smythe 13th May 2013

Eclectic showcase goes into bonus time 

Upon arriving 15 minutes early there’s a sizeable Mothers’ Day crowd amassed at the large but slow-moving lifts on the ground floor, just one below Sky City theatre.  For some reason I can’t quite fathom access to the theatre via the stairs is not permitted.  We resolve to quickly walk to the opposite end of the complex, up the main atrium lifts and back through the building to reach the theatre by the 7pm start time.

In hindsight we needn’t have busted a gut – the show starts a casual almost ten minutes late, and in contrast to the billed duration of two hours, finally wraps up in its own good time at a quarter to eleven.  That’s over three and a half, fortunately predominately laugh-filled, hours.

I’m either missing something, or trying to read too much into the French title, which confuses me given there are no French acts even in the festival, let alone this show.  It is none-the-less an eclectic International showcase, presented by those two foreign acts Urzila Carlson (expat South-African) and Jarred Christmas (from Christchurch).  As a double act they are equally commanding, casual and crass.  Quite funny too.

The opening act, not counting theirs, is Greg Ellis as none other than local lounge-throb Vance Fontaine and his Peculiar Sensations (who by the way are the extremely talented, magnificently versatile in-house four-piece band for the evening). 

Smarmily welcoming us in his shiny all-sequin silver shirt, Fontaine and the band belt out a couple of ingeniously improvised songs, the first a romantically cheeky ‘pre-mothers day’ serenade to a young expecting couple in the front.  Their combined skill in building up an off-the-cuff number to a gratifying musical crescendo is as impressive as Ellis’s quick-witted melodic rhyming wordplay.

Next, British lad Tom Binns as mercurial master of the spirit world Ian D. Montfort enters to beguile us with his uncanny psychic powers.  Essentially an amusing satirical dig at the charlatan-rich industry of spiritual mediums, Montfort plays well off the crowd with his spurious claim to other-world connections, before pulling the rug out with a properly bamboozling card trick (Tarot, naturally). 

Third up, Clayton Carrick-Leslie keeps it real with a solid set of straight standup, covering such timeless topics as dating, breaking up, auto-correct text fails, the tautology of dining menus and women’s Jeckyll-and-Hyde relationship with blood sugar.  Plus a spot-on passing impression of a John Key navman.

Closing the first half, Titty Bar Ha Ha are a couple of saucy burlesque-attired women in black regaling us with contrived elocutions that belie the bawdy raunch of their musical numbers that deal with the issues of ex-partner sex and self-administered pleasure, respectively.  They amuse adequately, although the extended kazoo-medley is an underwhelming climax. 

First after the interval is Markus Birdman, a slender English chap resembling a casually dressed magician all in black with a manicured goatee; in fact the look he says he was going for is “darts player with Aids”.  His generally entertaining comic insights loosely relate to the occasion of Mothers’ Day, discussing children (“the greatest joy you’ll ever have, since they ruin any chance for any other kind”), along with sex, marriage, break-ups and once again, self-love. 

Kiwi Barnie Duncan cunningly raises the percentage of offshore acts next, with his smolderingly quirky Venezuelan Calypso-nova Juan Vesuvius.  Certainly the strangest and most original act the evening’s eclectic line-up, Juan’s somewhat meandering, surreal sonic pseudo-lecture using old-school vinyl turntables give us a curious taste of his solo show Calypso Nights, coming to Auckland in this final week of the festival.

Penultimate act and final Brit of the night, James Acaster’s quietly likeable demeanour comes in sharp relief (in every sense of the word) to his high-concept introduction involving Mr Christmas interpretive dancing in a flame-printed unitard.  James’ witty offhand style of pithy commentary on his personal ambitions resembles a young Carl Pilkington with hair, as does his tendency to xenophobia. 

Local hero The Boy With Tape On His Face concludes the evening’s extensive entertainment, probably because of the amount of mess he leaves behind as much as for his well-documented silent comic genius.  He effortlessly knocks out his oven-mitts ‘Endless Love’ duet, the loudly-applauded ‘Lean On Me’ routine and the convoluted horse-race bit. I’d seen them all before but no charm is lost on a repeat viewing. 

Despite the record-breaking overtime run on a mid-festival Sunday night, the mood and energy of the departing crowd is high.  Bring on the final week!


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