Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

16/02/2024 - 17/02/2024

Auckland Pride 2024

Production Details

Created and performed by Jess Karamjeet

Jess Karamjeet had plans – ambitious ones and downright evil ones – but her dad died and she’s in the queer dating-pool again after four years. There’s also the tiny issue of being a writer and performer, with men like Mayor Brown skulking around…

But Jess is fighting! ‘Redundant’ is a rally cry for creatives, misfits and contradictory humans:

an hour of stand-up and songs navigating grief, queer and bi-racial identity, and the taboo power of hidden disabilities.

Jess was selected by the NZ Comedy Trust for their filmed ‘Ones To Watch’ showcase, and her duo comedy music show GRIEF-SEX-RACE ran at the curated Q Theatre for Auckland Fringe Festival 2022 to rave reviews.

‘Jess has a gentle charisma which fuels her comedy in a unique way, making her a joy to watch,’ – Theatrescenes

‘Jess is a comedy triple threat: great joke writer, phenomenal story-teller, and excellent performer!’ – Tim Batt

‘Authentic! I think it’s high time we see people of colour telling specific stories,’ – audience member.

‘I loved how (GRIEF-SEX-RACE) showed that grief isn’t always sad, and that it can be wacky and funny and it’s okay to laugh about it,’ – audience member.


Show Info
Age Restrictions: R18
Please arrive 15 minutes before show start time.
Please note that this show may be subject to lockout. If so, you will not be able to enter the venue after the start time.

Jess Karamjeet

Comedy , Theatre , [R18] , Solo , LGBTQIA+ ,

1 hour

A fabulously queer evening, deliciously sexy, and outrageously hilarious

Review by Lexie Matheson ONZM 19th Feb 2024

There’s a saying in comedy circles that if you invoke the name of another comedian in your set, you’re playing with fire. Jess Karamjeet, in her Pride Festival show Redundant, did just that. She named one of my favourite comedians, Hannah Gadsby, but she did it in a good way. It shouldn’t really have been a surprise that Karamjeet would ignore such a trendy convention though, when her entire evening, from the very first nanosecond, was spent shagging the strait-laced walls of social convention until they shuddered with McCroskie-like rage and collapsed in a deeply satisfied heap. Rules? What rules? Conventions? Bugger that!

I’ve seen Hannah Gadsby live and follow all of her online shows but after just an hour with Karamjeet I think I would prefer to spend my superannuation on one of her delightfully naughty shows than on Gadsby’s. Nothing personal, no disrespect, it’s just that Karamjeet is simply fantastic and hilarious in very special ways that really tickle my fancy. She’s funny (which is quite important), she’s outrageous (botox in the nether regions), and her experiences as she travels the world are rich, fearless, and courageous.

Redundant is ‘tangential’, a bit random, and wonderfully nonlinear, but I have no doubt, at any single point on the journey, Karamjeet is in complete control of what she’s doing (audience, and me, included) such is her comic craft. For an hour I don’t care about anything except what comes next, and I laugh and laugh so many different kinds of laughter – shock, surprise, gut, satisfied expectation, disbelief, recognition – it’s incredibly clever stuff managed by a performer in absolute control of her material, her timing, and her audience.

It’s a Pride show so you’ll expect plenty of pride-like content (whatever that means) and I was certainly not disappointed. In fact, I heard my own inner voice, which is seldom spoken audibly, articulated right back at me in a deft rainbow voice that I will cherish for a very long time.

As usual, though, I’m ahead of myself.

The empty stage that is the cavernous Q Loft has a lone guitar on a stand, a microphone, also on a stand, and a plush, buttoned armchair, all downstage and well within the spit zone.

Karamjeet meets us at the door as we arrive. She’s charming and looks gorgeous in a beautiful sparkly multicoloured top – but that’s enough sexist twaddle. The preshow music is great and there’s a three-quarter house – and that’s enough demographic trivia.

This was the second night of a two-night season and what a journey it’s been to get to this point. I wasn’t scheduled to review this show, then I was, then I had no vehicle, so hence a second night review. Karamjeet was gracious when I told her and explained why. Disability is a bitch, and Jess knows all about that if anyone does. Wouldn’t it be great if a shot of botox up the bum could solve the surgical wait lists, but it can’t, not yet anyway.

Jess – do you mind if I call her Jess since I know more about her after a few minutes than I will know about most people ever – introduces herself and the show, and it’s evident right from the start that this ride is going to be fun. Her confidence is infectious.

She talks about the show being ‘tangential’ – a reviewer said that once – nonlinear and personal, it’s about her training, her travels, and her family. We learn she’s not her mother’s favourite, she talks about her names, and it’s all very funny in an OMG sort of way. She talks about having a moustache and being called Hagrid at school, she talks about being an Indian woman called Macdonald, and about the pull of Ramsey Street. Some of us know what that means. My wife whispers ‘Neighbours’ but I shush her because I’m not that stupid. I was grateful though, because sometimes I am that stupid – and more.

Then there’s a song. There are a number of songs throughout the show, and I like them a lot. The lyrics are outstanding.

Then there’s the ‘Neighbours’ thread which is smartly woven throughout. We meet the dream and the disappointment. Redundancy is rough. Been there, got the tee shirt.

We discover she’s bisexual and that guys are easier to find than women. Who’d have guessed? Then there’s the decision to travel the world and how she found Bali, Sophie, and the Aussie Bali Bogans. This sparks wild recognition and mention of Thailand brought the house down. In Thailand she had lots of sex (I think it was Thailand) which seemed to make us all inordinately happy.

We also find she suffers from Fibromyalgia, a chronic, long-lasting disorder that causes pain and tenderness throughout the body, as well as fatigue and trouble sleeping. In the grab bag of disabilities, Fibromyalgia is well up there. I check myself for symptoms (I always do, it’s how I know I don’t have Bubonic Plague) but I think I’m OK. Jess even makes her health journey hilarious though it’s certainly anything but. Not even a wee hint of ‘poor me’, a lesson I could well learn as I occasionally wallow in my misery.

Who knew Botox was so funny, and who knew of its many therapeutic uses. Eyebrows be damned, Jess has had it jabbed in far more interesting places!

Some gags are so wild that they’re only met with silent laughter and the odd unimpeded snort – which is, in itself, funny, and often engenders rolling waves of glee. Who had any idea that barbecue tongs could be so funny – after that gag there is a silence which lasts an eon, followed by a riot of jocular disbelief.

There’s a lot of talk about being mixed race, unmanageable hair, and the need to have a personal ‘Weedwhacker’. Think about it.

Did I say some of her content is outrageous? Well, it is, and I should’ve flashed it in lights. Wonderfully, delightfully outrageous. I find myself thinking of ground breakers like Lenny Bruce, and censorship, and the ghastly comedians who love to punch down – Dave Chapelle and that Gervais fellow – and I thank the Goddess for comedians like Jess who can be hilarious without resorting to all that ugly stuff.

She shares that she scored her dream job working as a writer on ‘Neighbours’ and we all applaud. She talks about Spielberg‘s ‘male gaze’ – yes, it is thing – about writing the revolutionary ‘Neighbours’ gay marriage episode, and about introducing the first transgender character. More cheers. Then there’s a song, the name of which I can’t recall. I wrote it down but I was laughing so much my writing is illegible. It has the most fabulous lyrics and some impressive scat singing which brings most of the audience to its metaphorical knees. It’s good to know that coprophilia is alive and well – and that I may never hear of it in another show ever again, anywhere. Q Theatre Loft, February, 2024, you heard it here first!

Tall poppy syndrome, ‘Shortland Street’, her first serious queer relationship, and crying in Pak’n’Save, sum up arriving in Godzone. She’s proud of the writing she’s done and justifiably so, and just when we think we’re in the happy home straight, she gets the news that her Dad is seriously unwell at home in the UK. She travels back to England, and we suddenly see that there is little likelihood of a happy ending.

But this is Jess Karamjeet, and, of course, she avoids the downer ending. She doesn’t just avoid it, she turns it on its butt to our shared comic benefit. She tells us how the joy of her life was finding out, when she got home, that she was, after all, her Dad’s favourite. This comes as a surprise to us – and it seems to come as a surprise to her too – since her brother is a Judge and has always been her mother’s favourite. From a theatrical perspective this is a comic lifeline and so it transpires: her Dad, tired of life, trusts her to be the person who ‘cares for him’ at the very end. Of course he does, because he has a very special place in Jess’s occasionally dark narrative but, mercifully, he passes away before any intervention is required or can occur. The love Jessica Karamjeet Macdonald has for her Dad, and, in fact, for her whole family, permeates the entire evening and joins many of the dots, but this does not make the death experience sacrosanct. Far from it. If anything, there are more laughs around her Dad’s demise than there are anywhere else in the show – which is exactly as it should be.

‘Neighbours’ brings an interesting dimension to the work because it’s not the iconic television treasure in Aotearoa that it is in Australia, or perhaps in the UK, so the comedy that is enshrined in this distinctive experience is potentially built on sand. It works here because of Karamjeet’s innate sense of timing and placement, and her ability to make the provincial seem universal. It’s incredibly clever and her confidence totally wins the day. She runs the full gamut of emotions when speaking of ‘Neighbours’ and reminds us, at the conclusion, that we should keep chasing our dreams.

It was a fabulous evening very queer, very womanist, very openly sexual, and incredibly, deliciously sexy. Did I say it was outrageous? Yes, I did, and for those of us with open minds, there was no actual outrage, just surprise and hilarity, and I’ll drink to that any old day.

On our way home, my lovely (lesbian) wife asked casually, ‘what would you like for dinner?’ ‘Indian’, was the innocent reply, but for an age the air hung heavy with spicy innuendo.


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