LOOSE: A Private History of Booze and Iggy Pop 1996-2015

Dunedin Fringe Festival Club, 20 Princes St, Dunedin

07/03/2016 - 10/03/2016

BATS Theatre, Studio, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

11/03/2015 - 14/03/2015

The Dark Room, Cnr Pitt and Church Street, Palmerston North

03/11/2016 - 05/11/2016

Dunedin Fringe 2016

NZ Fringe Festival 2015 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details


Over the past three NZ Fringe Festivals, Jonny Potts has presented three character-based shows, and each one has been nominated for the Best Comedy award. However, none of his characters has managed a win. This year, Jonny ditches character altogether, determined to lose the award all by himself. (With the aid of some Dutch courage, and a little help from Iggy Pop.) 

‘Loose: A Private History of Booze & Iggy Pop 1996-2015’ comprises twenty short stories from twenty long years of drinking and listening to Iggy. In just one hour, he’ll go for a walk, ride in a car, take acid, stay up late, sleep in, visit New York, move to Whanganui, do stand-up, throw up, and discover the challenges of drinking in Courtenay Place when you’re dressed for Cuba Street. 

You can’t make this stuff up.

Jonny’s previous NZ Fringe shows are the Kincaid Weekender, Signfeld & Freindz and The No Nonsense Parenting Show. His NZ Comedy Festival shows are The Delusionaries, Let Us Reappraise Famous Men and Good Times with Cool Dudes. He is the host of The Witching Hours pod cast, a member of the award-winning Bacchanals, and the co-director of Cinema in Decline. 


Jonny Potts in ‘Loose: A Private History of Booze & Iggy Pop 1996-2015’ 
BATS Theatre Studio 
11-14 March 2015 

Mon 7 – Thurs 10 March 2016,

LOOSE: A Private History of Booze & Iggy Pop 1996-2015
at The Dark Room, Palmerston North
Thursday 3-5 November 2016

Theatre , Solo , Comedy ,

1 hr

Hilarious, gloomy, nostalgic and surprisingly existential

Review by Alison Embleton 10th Mar 2016

Jonny Potts is the kind of guy you’d like to have a beer with. Fortunately for his audiences, that’s exactly what Loose: A History of Booze and Iggy Pop sets you up for. He’s affable and charming as the audience gradually rolls in, filling the small venue with the most varied group of spectators possible.

The show is part stand up, part solo theatre, part Mojo Top 100 and entirely autobiographical. Potts never shies away from opening the kimono, so to speak. He draws from all manner of life experiences, ranging from the sweet victory of burning doughnuts into his snooty high school’s First XV field to disappointing sexual encounters: “the erotic equivalent of work drinks.” 

There are also some more melancholic recollections surrounding Potts’ relationship with alcohol and a bittersweet re-enactment of a post-break up phone call. The latter marks the heaviest and most serious point in the show. It also sets up the remarkable rebound that Potts makes from hunched over and miserable to bounding about the stage again. While this could easily be cringe-worthy and undercut the poignancy of the earlier recollection, it is handled with such skill and honesty that the effect is simply outstanding.

Some of the jokes do, on occasion, feel a little too laboured, though Potts rather expertly handles any lack of response from the crowd by turning his assumed failure to hit the mark into a fresh quip. As the performance develops you begin to realise that this is a technique employed intentionally, deriving humour by belabouring the point. 

Potts states at the very beginning that the format of the show is comprised of twenty stories from twenty years of his life (though creative license is rather conveniently employed on a few occasions). The essential elements of each anecdote are Potts himself and the titular promises of booze and Iggy Pop.

Booze parades though the show, often in a supremely unglamorous manner (rhythmically purging gin to the beat of ‘Passenger’, anyone?). Iggy Pop fares much better. Music is so often linked with important memories for people, and it is evident from the audience that Potts’ musically-themed recollections are prompting private reminiscences throughout.

That being said, for those unfamiliar with Iggy and the other bands/musicians mentioned throughout (shame on you), the show doesn’t suffer for your musical ineptitude.

Much like Iggy and booze, Wellington features heavily in this show: it’s almost a character in itself. As a former Wellingtonian, I love the references to classic Wellington spots; the former view of Licks from the window of Midnight Espresso is especially nostalgic. While these places provide an extra element of joy for those familiar with them, Potts so richly describes the locations and their significance that even if you’ve never set foot in Wellington you’ll appreciate their inclusion.

There is a solid amount of audience interaction, before the show even starts actually. This is something that (for the most part) Potts manages well, he pulls everyone into his performance without the alarming element of fear that often comes with stand-up shows. One especially great moment occurs when he hands a beer to a front-row occupant and draws him into the story in the role of a friend. This plays out exceptionally well, and adds to the genial quality of the show. Unfortunately this is not picked up on again, which is a loss as it was so well handled that it would help down the track to keep the audience involved. 

All in all, Loose is great entertainment. It is deftly delivered, hilarious, gloomy, nostalgic and surprisingly existential. Jonny Potts knows how to tell a story, he can work a crowd and, while autobiographical shows can often seem self-indulgent, he’s had the kind of life you want to hear about.

Full disclosure: I played ‘Lust for Life’ on loop while writing up this review – the vinyl copy, of course. 


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Funny, clever and engaging

Review by Jonathan Kingston-Smith 12th Mar 2015

Jonny Potts’ show occupies a strange twilit world between stand-up comedy and one-man drama. It stumbles backwards from present day across a couple of decades: a series of sprawling anecdotes, vignettes, observations and musings. 

Sometimes it is belly-laugh funny, at other times it is oddly melancholy, and elsewhere it veers into boozy philosophising. There is little perceptible structure underlying the fragments and certainly nothing in the way of linear ordering. Instead it feels like a scattered shrapnel of memories, linked predominantly by the twin themes of the title.

LOOSE: A Private History of Booze and Iggy Pop 1996-2015 is a tour that takes us from the bright forecourt lights of W(h)anganui, across the ocean to a leopard-print nightmare in New York, and ultimately to a Wellington of record shops and bars such as Mighty Mighty (which is to say, a Wellington that is all-too quickly disappearing).

Along the way we are witness to doughnuts scorched into a playing field, a handful of near-passed-out kids on the hills overlooking the city lights and dreaming of ‘The Passenger’, soulless sexual scenarios just off Courtenay place, and a particularly brilliant moment where Potts (spoiler averted).

Potts also exposes the titillating truth behind Tui billboards, teaches us the thing of genius that is the National Radio Test, and flashbacks to when Hell Pizza was a reckless independent outlet rather than a bloated chain. 

All-in-all, given the free-wheeling nature of this performance, it’s bloody appropriate that alcohol plays such a strong thematic role in this performance. Although, ultimately it’s about neither booze nor Iggy Pop. It’s about Jonny Potts.

It is maybe too serious, or at least too sweeping and occasionally uneven in its emotional tone – briefly touching on depression and loneliness (including an acted-out scene of post-break-up desperation that is cringingly honest) – to be treated purely as stand-up comedy. However it never falls into the realm of theatre, not really – ‘cos it’s totally about this dude who calls himself Jonny (without an ‘h’). So, as a theatrical piece, well… it would be a little self-indulgent. But, screw it – it is funny, clever and engaging. And ultimately it builds towards a final revelation that is startling in its perfectly ordinary wonderfulness. 

Potts is a compelling performer: kinetic and given to hand gestures. He moderates his voice well and has a relaxed and affable vibe that makes him immensely likeable. He briefly steps outside of the standard ‘talking to the audience’ narration of stand-up comedy by pretending that one audience member is a friend engaging him in conversation. But he never really expands upon this, returning to the more typical format once again. 

He makes good use of the few props that grace the stage (primarily glasses of alcohol and records from Mojo Magazine’s 100 Greatest Albums of All Time list). Using a hairbrush as a simulated mic for the stand-up bits is inspired. The lighting is subtle and, coupled with the small theatre at Bats, gives the performance a nicely intimate living-room vibe. 

On the subject of Iggy Pop, I’ve never really been much of a fan (more of a Patti Smith follower, myself), but you don’t have to be, although a functional knowledge of rock music across the last few decades will help you out a little. 

I am also glad that someone finally pointed out just how much Iggy looks like an iconic (to some) New Zealander, on the cover of Lust for Life. That always bothered me. 


Jonathan Kingston-Smith March 12th, 2015

I should add a caveat, however. There is an extended joke in the performance - concerning a 'bubbly' young woman and a joyless sexual encounter - that crosses too far into actual cruelty. There is a certain brutal comedy there and Potts paints a vivid scenario using clever language, however the joke itself rapidly becomes demeaning and judgmental. It's not enough to extensively diminish the overall charm of the performance (or even the likeability of Potts as a performer), but it does tarnish it slightly.

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