Morgan and Justin Get Ambitious

Globe 2, Globe Theatre, 312 Main St, Palmerston North

09/02/2024 - 09/02/2024

Palmy Comedy Festival 2024

Production Details

Created by Morgan Hunter-Bell, Justin Ngai

The Comedy Hub - We've been providing shows and workshops on stand-up comedy in the Manawatū since 2017.

It’s about to get weird. Crazy characters? Wild stories? Musical comedy? Human eye contact? That’s just the f***ing start. Get ready for an explosion of creativity, and the ride of your lives. With great ambition comes great comedy from Hunter-Bell and Ngai.
After succeeding in obscurity all over the country, Justin Ngai and Morgan Hunter-Bell are merging their brands of bizarre on the festival scene. Get ready for road stories, dating woes, racial/societal expectations, and ambitions great and small.

One night only. Friday 9 February 6:45 – 7:45 pm. Globe Theatre.

Morgan Hunter-Bell - Winner Best Joke, Comedy Hub Awards (2018, 2019, 2021, 2022)
Justin Ngai - Winner Best MC, Comedy Hub Awards 2023

Tech - Tracey Adams

Theatre , Stand-up comedy , Comedy ,

1 hour

Gettin’ ambitty wit’ it – a meander through millennial angst 

Review by Richard Mays 11th Feb 2024

There can come a time when the organisers of any performance festival embrace the opportunity it provides to strut their own stuff.

And who can blame them. Manawatū comedians Morgan Hunter-Bell and Justin Ngai – stalwarts of the local Comedy Hub – have demonstrated plenty of initiative, been ‘ambitious’ with the concept, done the mahi and carried the weight of Palmy’s 2024 Comedy Festival.

Also, if you have a mini Central Districts tour beckoning that includes the Wellington Fringe Festival, it’s a given that any and every prior stage engagement going simply has to be exploited.  

So, this was it for Hunter-Bell and Ngai – the pair kicking off a Friday night featuring three other separate live shows as part of the seven-day, 22-gig Palmerston North Comedy Festival, which culminated on Saturday 10 with headliner Brendhan Lovegrove.

The duo run a loose, self-deprecatory, ‘me’-focused, confessional style comedy tag-team format, held together by the odd ‘experimental segue’, that explores aspects of millennial angst.

Ngai riffs on break-ups, cougars, meeting an unorthodox marriage counsellor, adult-onset ADHD, being Chinese, and dating disasters.

Hunter-Bell chimes in on sex and relationships, tattoos, World Pizza Day and fast-food ordering debacles. He then takes a huge risk with his ‘je suis un rock star’ singing set – reworking lyrics to songs by Elton John and Robbie Williams – tho’ he ain’t no Bill Bailey.

While certainly not lacking ambition or potential, overall their set of uneven material lacks focus. The pair’s dual presentation could also have been tighter, but this should improve once the distraction of running a festival is over.

One area where they need to step up is in their response to some clever audience heckles. Mining these – especially when a crowd is friendly and well-disposed – can not only produce seams of comedy gold but also build engagement. However, the guys don’t seem fully attuned to all the impromptu possibilities presented by this wealth of banter ‘from the cheap seats’.

It’ll be interesting to see how audience awareness, along with their material and its execution, is honed on tour in the coming weeks.


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