Pulp Comedy – The 15th Anniversary Special

The Powerstation, 33 – 35 Mt Eden Rd, Auckland

28/04/2010 - 01/05/2010

NZ International Comedy Festival 2010

Production Details

In May 1995 a bunch of ambitious local comedians, believing their own publicity that comedy was the new rock’n’roll, hired Auckland’s iconic live rock venue, The Powerstation, and staged the very first ‘Pulp Comedy Live’ showcase as part of the, then, quite small NZ Comedy Festival.
Fifteen years later they return to The Powerstation, along with the new generation of Kiwi stand-up comedians, to celebrate ‘Pulp Comedy – The 15th Anniversary Special’ , a 4 night season from Wednesday April 28 to Saturday May 1st.
Some of the original cast of the 1995 show including Mike King, Jeremy Corbett and Andrew Clay will be joined by up to 20 other performers including Paul Ego, Ben Hurley, Jan Maree, Jesse Mulligan and more over the four nights with a different line-up of 8 to 10 performers on stage each night.
The success of the original ‘Pulp Comedy Live’ show was a turning point for the local comedy industry for 2 reasons. Not only did it spawn 8 series of the ‘Pulp Comedy’ TV show but it also gave the same bunch of comedians the courage to open their own venue, The Classic at 321 Queen St. Both the TV show and the comedy club have played a major role in establishing a stable base upon which the industry has grown.
The Powerstation continued to play a role in the annual comedy festival until it closed under a cloud in 2003. After a 7 year absence, during which time the venue has been refurbished and upgraded The Powerstation will once again generate world class laughs in the annual comedy festival with 22 shows programmed over the 3 week festival kicking off with the ‘FIRST NIGHT’ showcase on Saturday 24 April.

Dates: Weds 28 April – Sat 1 May, 8pm
Venue: Powerstation, 33 – 35 Mt Eden Rd, City
Tickets: Adults $45 / Table of 6 $240
Bookings: Ticketmaster 09 970 9700   www.ticketmaster.co.nz
Show duration: 2 hours  


A largely mainstream comedy cocktail

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 29th Apr 2010

Having floor managed* the inaugural 1995 Pulp Comedy TV series, I watch the evening’s 15 year Pulp resurrection-reunion, feeling at times like a proud Auntie.
The 1995 series boasted the first all-Kiwi stand up comedy line up, consolidating the profile of established sketch-comedy performers as well as launching “rookies” onto the fledgling NZ stand up comedy scene. While it was a ground breaking exciting satisfying ride, the inexperience of those learning their craft made it occasionally uneven and bumpy.
Now, while the formula is the same, there is hardly a kink in the new Pulp armour, as 10 confident, professional, slick comedians lap up the rollicking laughter of a raucous and appreciative opening night audience. Just as veteran comedy producer Scott Blanks recently said to me, “Practice anything for 10,000 hours and, provided you’ve got the innate talent, you’ll master it.” (He’s referring to Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point”).
Of course content reflects age and maturity: rookies who were building their routines on moving to the big bad city and socially awkward situations, now talk about their wives; and the old hands talk about… well, being old. Plus there’s now a flood of material about kids and parenting. That being said, any good comedian grabs what’s topical, so the night is full of side-splittingly funny references to that slight Canadian boy, Justin Bieber.
Impressive host Paul Ego is completely at home and guides us through the night brilliantly. He knows this audience well, and like the majority of the acts, he secures easy laughs – in his case with jokes about private parts, ‘the wife’ and getting drunk. A sensible voice inside my right brain insists the latter is perpetuating the social drinking problems of the nation, but the material is great… and I laugh regardless.
However, it is Ego’s parenting tips (including a demonstration of his “lipless monster”); plus his merciless interaction with the audience, in particular a fresh-faced 18 year old up the front, (who is cleverly reincorporated into the night by subsequent comedians), that I personally enjoy the most.
The opening act is the dashing Jesse Mulligan, who chats about his hometown Hamilton; doomed European OE; recent trip to Oz and hugging a Koala Bear. His self-assured delivery and accessible material is well met – my date is particularly taken with Jesse’s smooth expressive comedy (jazz?) hands!
Mark Scott talks about his recent break up from a long-term relationship and while some of his early material is a wee bit dated and predictable, he finishes with a hilarious song, getting fantastic mileage from awkwardly serenading men and women in the audience. He’s no smooth crooner but that only makes this lovable geek all the more funny.
Michele A’Court offers a reliably dry, well rounded (and at times low down and dirty) routine about approaching middle age, teenagers, the evolution of men vs women, plus an excellent political stir about the Pope.
Paul Yates bravely takes to the stage after a ten year hiatus, during which time he’s become a Dad. Consequentially, his material about and impersonation of his teenage son is hilarious (unlike his attempt at imitating Mike King, which goes nowhere). While the opening is a bit too academic and long-winded to entertain, with a little edit, Yates has a great routine on his hands.
Gish swaggers on stage in a poncho and an over-sized jester’s hat – without which he could easily be mistaken for Taika Waititi’s character from his hit movie Boy. This late-30s dude takes iconic classic hits and switches the lyrics to create his own brand of cocky musical comedy. A talented guitarist, content-wise he’s not one to shy away from lewd topics, and his songs dish up sheep jokes, blow up dolls and perverts.
Ben Hurley opens the second half with a killer routine which contains possibly the best gag of the night, courtesy of his perceptive take on Hong Kong’s lease and at the expense of Christchurch. His trademark smirk breaks up his entertaining thoughts on everything from the Kiwi-knocking machine, inappropriate swearing and Iceland’s explosive revenge, to legalizing prostitution and why he loves confident women.
Dean Butler exposes the typical comedian’s checklist plus the technical aspects of comedy, to great comic effect. After fab gags about TVNZ’s Master Chef and some strong material for the men in the audience, this uptown boy morphs into the Chris Knox of comedy, strums his one-string guitar and delivers an amusing song about naming baby girls. Not only a fabulous comedian, he’s a born lyricist too. 
Evergreen favourite Jeremy Corbett reveals the secret of his success, then a few random comic observations, before diving into a fantastic bizarre and hugely entertaining account of the “F-U Balance” which includes the normally static Corbett dancing like a Leprechaun.
However, it’s comedy heavyweight Brendhan Lovegrove who holds court at the end. Dissing Hamilton and Polytechs is almost compulsory in his routine now, yet I didn’t tire of it! Choosing easy to appreciate material, such as much-loved Kiwi heroes and a fallen celebrity, Lovegrove’s hedonistic delivery gets this crowd in hysterics and eating out of the palm of his hand.
Pulp is a great night out for those who enjoy a largely mainstream comedy cocktail, plus it is excellent bang for your buck, if the length of the opening night is anything to go by.
Hats off to all those in the NZ comedy scene, who have continued to provide opportunities and encouragement to comedians striving for those 10,000 hours and beyond.  

* The TV floor manager works behind the cameras & gets to say those much-anticipated words… “Coming to you in 5, 4, 3, 2…”

[Note: The image provided by the NZICF (identical to that in their print programme) clearly does note represet the line-up reviewed. – ED]


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