Polson Higgs Comedy Club 2012

Ironic Café & Bar, 9 Anzac Ave, Dunedin

15/03/2012 - 24/03/2012

Dunedin Fringe 2012

Production Details

The 2012 Polson Higgs Comedy Club presents two seasons of outstanding comedy with a mix of emerging talent and internationally experienced performers. This year’s Comedy Club has been curated in collaboration with local group the Comedy Intelligence Agency and features a line-up show that ensures variety, new and provocative work and a lot of laughs. One door price gets you four comedians and one hell of a good night out!

Season One, 15-17 March 
Ironic Café & Bar, 7.30pm, $25/$20

MC: James Nokise (Wgtn)

James Nokise is the first Pacific Islander to work full time on the United Kingdom stand-up comedy circuit. After taking Pacific culture to the other side of the world, he returns to New Zealand with his trademark charm.

Finn Roy (Dun)

New talent Finn Roy brings his one-of-a-kind combination of science and comedy to his hometown audiences. Come to laugh, stay to learn!  

Sam Smith (Wgtn)

Sam cut his comedy teeth on the Otago University Capping Show and is now a writer for TV3’s 7 Days as well as upcoming shows Would I Lie To You? and The Wilde Bunch.

Simon McKinney (Akld)

Simon’s fun and generous style of comedy charms one and all (and he has numerous NZ and international awards to prove it). His impressions always make him a crowd favourite and his international accents give him global appeal.

Season Two, 22-24 March
Ironic Café & Bar, 7.30pm, $25/$20

MC: Nick Rado (Akld)

Recently returned from an extensive tour of the UK and Europe, Nick Rado brings his unique style of stand up comedy back to New Zealand. With interactive storytelling and hilarious self-examination, nothing in Nick’s life is off-limits.

Abby Howells (Dun)

Local girl Abby Howells takes her offbeat comedy to the Festival stage with her quirky stories about life in Dunedin, the Bible, sandwiches and racism.

Rhys Mathewson (Akld)

As one of New Zealand’s youngest professional comedians, Rhys is a favourite of student audiences. Appearances on 7 Days, C4’s Jono Project, and several upcoming TV shows in the pipeline make Rhys one to watch.

Jeremy Elwood (Akld)

If you want to leave the venue with sore ribs from laughing and a sore head from thinking, then Jeremy Elwood is your man. One of New Zealand’s best-known comedians, Jeremy finds humour in the best, worst and weirdest parts of the world around us. 

Flirting with calamity; immaculate timing; quirky; consummate

Review by Patrick Davies 24th Mar 2012

The Polson Higgs Comedy Club continues this Fringe produced event with Nick Rado as host and featuring Rhys Mathewson, Abby Howells and Jeremy Elwood, and what a great way to send off the last week of the Fringe.

Rado, recently returned from several years on the European circuit, is our host. Looking like Michael J. Fox’s younger brother he is full of enthusiasm and gets the audience on side immediately, easily getting us to ‘bring the fury’.

In such an intimate space punters near the front always shy away from the limelight but he uses their fear to great success and at the same time relaxes us into the evening. Moving from gags on his new relationship to those in the audience, he flirted with calamity by taking on a well known Dunner’s muso but brought it back from the brink in professional style.

Rhys Mathewson may not hold the title for youngest professional comedian but he is the youngest winner of the towelled Billy T. James award and it’s obvious why. His personable manner is only matched by his incredible talent. Covering first impressions, skipping,Edinburgh, the bible and a torn penis he somehow moves effortlessly from one to the next like a skipping stone across the audience.

He kept us chortling and laughing right through his set with a wonderful control. Even when riffing, responding to a good humoured heckle or laughing at himself, he keeps up the patter and keeps the punchlines coming. His timing is immaculate, knowing when to hold and when to go. I will forever think about him when ordering my eggs for brunch. Many will have seen him on TV, if you see a poster for this guy and you don’t go – you’re a moron.

Abby Howells is the local comic and more than held her own. Like her improv, she is committed to her material, never shying away but handling the audience with the confidence of a pro.

It is quirky and often her punchlines will leave you laughing as you (metaphorically) scratch your head: she is queen of the punchline non-sequitur. In giving you an idea I might mention Phoebe from Friends but I hesitate as the real deal is far better. Howells’ charm and confidence sells you some of the most off the road and fun material.

Jeremy Elwood is getting to be one of the Godfathers of New Zealand comedy. He is a consummate performer who doesn’t really seem to perform so much as get up and tell you what’s on his mind. From the World Cup to Port Levy; from what men think on dates to what prejudices to have, he meanders around subjects and then harpoons them.

A lot of the material was a mix of the old with the new, but it was kept light, relevant and hilarious by his style. When toyboy Nick realised he fluffed it with the timing, Elwood turns the next seven minutes into ‘the worst encore ever’ in a brilliant way. In many of his earlier shows he would elicit the night’s subjects from his audience and this is what he does now.

Though his ‘Chocolate Song’ may not linger in memory, (thank dog! (he’s an atheist so it’s appropriate)), he uses an actual tampon machine from the ladies for his final gag. Anyone who can do that in front of a wide ranging general public crowd to great result has got some big ones.


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Hardly Fringe but well worth seeing

Review by Patrick Davies 21st Mar 2012

The Polson Higgs Comedy Club has moved and changed at this year’s Fringe. Now at Ironic Bar and no longer a collection of three separate shows, we have one 2 hour evening of three stand up sets, MC’d by a national comic.

This is a new direction for this show and not a good one for the Fringe. Don’t get me wrong – the comedy show is well worth seeing. I question what part of the Fringe world a mainstream comedy show sits in. There is no experimentation, innovation or diversity in this show that could sit in any part of the year outside of the Fringe.

Anyhoo, this first week sees James Nokise introducing Wellington’s Sam Smith, Dunedin’s Finn Roy and International man of accents, Simon McKinney.

Nokise, looking resplendent in a very natty brown suit, starts the ball rolling. He’s wearing it because his partner’s family is in and he wants to make a good impression, not that he’s just come from court! A lot of Nokise’s humour comes from his multi ethnic background but he always avoids the ‘us and them’ trap and lets us into his family while keeping us guffawing along with him.

Audience nicely warmed, our first comic de noir is Sam Smith. Smith was part of the University Capping Show down here an now is a writer for the fantastic 7 Days and the execrable Would I Lie To You. Quickly stepping from laugh to laugh, he is at his best when smacking the audience with quickie one liners accompanying himself with the guitar.

Some of his comedy you can see coming and at times the audience were one step ahead of him, but he kept us going with a bright eyed and bushy tailed approach.

Next up is Finn Roy from Dunedin. Not a great night for Finn I’m afraid, his mixture of science and comedy quite often stalled and the punters weren’t his style of punters. He had the good grace to bring his set to a close early once he felt things going south, which was the right thing to do.

Two things shine through here – one: Nokise’s ability to acknowledge the truth while bringing the audience back to the boil; pure professionalism and a great talent to handle the audience like it’s a kitten wanting it’s tummy rubbed; two: how much Finn reminded us how far comedy has come in Dunedin. When Simon McKinney bombed in the old days he would keep going until he won them back, not always successfully. Finn’s short set was a mark of the professionalism of the local lads.

Simon McKinney is one of my favourite comics on the circuit today. His slick and easy style wins the audience to him within seconds and he continues to keep the laughs coming with his trademark accents and stories.

Very little old material, and even that material has been transformed and shined since I last saw him. His schtick on Sean Connery and the little old ladies has the audience in stitches, and his new material just gets better and better.

I look forward to next week’s line up of the wonderful Abby Howells, TV favourite Rhys Mathewson and the hugely popular Jeremy Elwood. 


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