Little Howard and the Magic Pencil of Life and Death

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

22/04/2008 - 27/04/2008

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details


Perrier-nominated comedian Big Howard and his animated six-year-old sidekick Little Howard are taking their new family comedy show to the New Zealand International Comedy Festival. 

Little Howard has discovered the pencil that drew him. But, on the other end of this magical pencil of life is the eraser of death, and a dark force is at large determined to rub the cheeky chap out for good. And, as if that wasn’t enough, Big Howard has had a real-life baby who is getting a little too much attention! Can Little Howard escape his supernatural nemesis? How will he get rid of this pesky new arrival? Who knows… but there will be danger, drama and a lot of laughs on the way.

With interactive stand-up, 3D animation and lots of songs this really is a show that all the family can enjoy.

Howard Read is a highly acclaimed stand-up comedian for adults. He decided to write comedy for children while his partner was pregnant with their first child, Samson (born 19th October 2006). He wanted to create a children’s show that would make their parents laugh too.

Big and Little Howard have toured their hilarious hi-tech shows nationally and internationally to Melbourne, New York, Stockholm and Aspen.  Their TV appearances include The Slammer (CBBC), Beat The Boss (CBBC), Comedy Cuts (ITV2), The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (NBC) and The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala (ABC Australia).

Howard’s solo TV appearances include ‘The World Stands Up’ (Paramount Comedy Channel) and 28 Acts in 28 Minutes (BBC Three). He recently wrote and animated ‘Stairlift to Heaven’ for Gina’s Laughing Gear (CBBC) and is currently writing and recording a six-part series, ‘Peacefully in Their Sleeps‘, for BBC Radio 4.

"I defy you not to be helplessly charmed" – THE TELEGRAPH, UK

Dates: April 22nd – 27th, 11am
Venue: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE®
Tickets: Adults $20, Children $15 (under 15) (service fees may apply)
Bookings: TICKETEK – 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)

Big Howard Presents Little Howard: The Worlds First Fully Interactive Six Year Old Cartoon Comedian

Review by Nik Smythe 22nd Apr 2008

As the audience convenes, Big Howard, half the main duo of the piece, passes time in the wings by scribbling caricatures of audience members on a sensor pad which is projected onto the big screen.  The effect is such that as the lights go down for the show to begin, the audience is already rather cheerful.

In due course Big Howard introduces Little Howard: allegedly the worlds first fully interactive cartoon six year old comedian (and I challenge anyone to name another).  Little Howard presents an accurate satirical portrait of the more ingratiatingly mercenary aspects of your typical six year old kid.  He’s scared of flies.  He constantly interrupts and generally deflates any attempt by Big Howard to have any part of the show run smoothly.  Not to mention he’s petty, jealous, mean, vindictive and hilarious.

The Howards take us through a few well segued sketches before addressing the show’s main premise: the audience is both treated to and invited to participate in Little Howard’s bedtime story when he goes for a nap "due to local child labour regulations".  Big Howard plays a disturbing nursery rhyme*, and leads a couple of rounds of ‘Human Guess Who’ with the crowd, drawing a randomly selected patrons and then using standard ‘Guess Who’ rules to figure out which one it is.

These routines serve well as both lubrication and character establishment. Things really start to happen when the title character meets the title prop, the magic pencil that created Little Howard and also has the power to destroy him.  Further to that, it has the potential to give Little Howard ears and a nose and turn him from a cartoon into a real boy… sound familiar?  No matter.

Little Howard’s motivation to be real is largely driven by the discovery of Big Howard’s little secret: he has a real son, Samson, who he not only loves with all his heart but with whom he also plays all Little H’s favourite games.  Just how they deal with the impasse is exactly what you ought to go along to the Herald this week to discover.

Replete with multilayered interactive humour for young and old, ingenious effects (including the kind that require cardboard glasses), a formidable arch villain (‘The Grim Rubber’) and clever 20 second doodles in the reverent tradition of Rolf Harris, Little Howard and the Magic Pencil of Life and Death is unique family entertainment into which one might even read deeper existential conundrums and dilemmas, were one so inclined.
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*Aptly named ‘Little Howard’s Unpleasant Lullaby’ – recommended YouTube viewing and also available on as a children’s book.


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