Downstage Theatre, Wellington

15/05/2006 - 15/05/2006

ODDFELLOWS Comedy Festival

Production Details

A taste. Warning – it could become addictive. 

Theatre , Comedy ,

Pick & choose or be gluttons

Review by John Smythe 16th May 2006

Why do we have comedy festivals? Isn’t it like having pudding only for every meal?

The Ancient Greeks whipped out their satirical stings after days of tragedy and soul-searching. Athenians need a good laugh by then. It’s all relative, eh. It’s the tough life we live between the gigs that builds our appetite for gags.

I blame the marketing bods. They like to package things. It’s easier to get sponsorship and publicity opportunities that way. And they can count on the lemming syndrome. What’s everyone going to – hey, we’d better follow …

Kicking off with a First Laughs taste of some of what’s in store over the next three weeks is like going to a food fair before deciding where to dine out, properly. And from the dozen acts we got to glimpse, with Ben Hurley as MC, it’s unlikely anyone would feel they’ve wasted their time or money whatever they choose to see ‘for real’.

The relatively straight stand-up merchants of observational comedy mined cultural differences and war in Iraq for laughs, among other things. Ben Hurley kept coming back to a racism theme. Australian Charlie Pickering captured the BBC war correspondent a treat. A droll Jerome Chandrahasen used candid camera to draw telling comparisons. James Nokise chose his Samoan over his Welsh side in the context of rugby and Janey Godley delighted in being a Glaswegian shocker.

Dai Henwood added visual humour with his toddler’s trike and ear muffs, and satirised road workers in a way that should win him a gig at the next National Party conference. The Mullet Brothers from Taita (Greg Ellis and Steve Wrigley) used their theatresports roots to riff off audience offers – on this occasion, doing ballet.

Cori Gonzalez-Maceur, master of the low-key delivery, topped his routine with an original Greenpeace protest song in Japanese. The Four Noels – Kiwis resident in Melbourne – wove minimalist magic with a ukulele, coconut shells, a seed rattle, mime, sound-effects and interperonal dysfunction to spice up their interactive song-making.

Irishman David O’Doherty threw in incidental-seeming humour while he got his little organ going, to which he sang a song about wooing then another answering FAQs about DO’D, in a style he called vlemwy: very low energy musical whimsy.

Jeremy Elwood brought great strength to his observations about Australia and his love song laden with terminal disease metaphors. And the male duo Mrs Peacock (real names not known) gave use a banal-turned-black musical insight into why love is blind before singing to their dead friend Tony, whose name attracts a wondrous number of rhymes.

The extraordinary Rhys Darby topped the night with a deceptively casual trot through his love for robots and sound-effects, his memory of childhood war games and a recent trip to London Zoo when the PA system went wonky. The man’s a genius who get’s better every year.

The talent is certainly out there, the humour cuts deep in places, there something to suit most tastes and those of a mind to be gluttons should get gorging now.


John Fleming May 16th, 2006

Good review, though the shocking Glaswegian is Janey Godley not Janey Goldley.

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