Comedy Underground, 305 Queen St, Auckland

20/05/2009 - 23/05/2009

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

A knockout comedy

(nearly*) Award winning comedians Ben Kettell and Calum Beck return to the Comedy Festival to find the next boxing superstar.

After two successful shows in the 2008 Festival, East Auckland favorites ‘The Coats of the Apocalypse’ return in a new show that mocks the sporting world and parodies the greatest boxing movies of all time.

Fusing improv, audience interaction and standup this year ‘COTA’  will show the ten easy steps to becoming a professional boxer, including vital sporting techniques like ‘steroids’, ‘the biggest fight of your life’ and ‘going to prison for a crime you didn’t commit.

But how will they do all this you ask? Oh, through amazing stage techniques such as cleverly making it up on the spot, the boys will bring the audience into the show and show them personally how any nobody can rise up the sporting ranks and become the world champion.

Look out David Tua, Shane Cameron and Tony Veitch; ‘COTA’ is going to let ROCKET loose on the sporting world.

Ben and Calum have been working as a comedy duo since there school years, meeting through a mutual love of comedy, theatre and Wayne’s World. Now years older they have evolved into professional stage comics, pod-casters and sketch comics showing off there art on the internet.

With big plans for there futures expect to hear more from this alternative comedy duo, and why not come see them before there funny.

"The future of New Zealand comedy is in safe hands." Debate Magazine.

Best Newcomers New Zealand Comedy Festival 2008.

Dates:  20 – 23rd May 2009, 10pm
Venue:  The Comedy Underground, Wallace Trust Gallery, 305 Queen Street
Tickets:  $14.50 Adults, $11.50 Students/Groups over 8.
Bookings:  Ticketek or through Comedy Underground.

1hr, no interval

Disorganised, disagreeing … and overly apologetic

Review by Sian Robertson 23rd May 2009

Disorganised, disagreeing … and overly apologetic

Rocket! takes you through the twelve steps to becoming a boxing world champion, so you too can make your dream come true. After all, who doesn’t harbour a secret desire to be a pro at punching people’s lights out?

The steps are fairly practical fame-seeking advice, such as ‘the name’, ‘the look’, ‘meeting the current world champ (different personality types to look out for)’, etc. None of the steps have anything to do with actual boxing technique, instead focusing on satirising boxing movie classics like Rocky, Raging Bull, Rocky, Million Dollar Baby, and Rocky, to name a few.

While I realise the style is deliberately ‘amateur’, with constant arguments breaking out between the actors as to how the show isn’t working, and whose fault it is, this is sometimes laboured to the point where it seems they’re stalling for time.

Ben Kettell is the ‘presenter’, Callum Beck is his energetic assistant whose asides often steal the limelight. Andrew Killip is their ‘comedy bitch’ – resentful ring card ‘girl’ and gofer – and he gets to do a funny stereotyped impression of a Korean boxer, with voice-over translation from Kettell. All three exert manic costume changes and a multitude of over the top characters, such as the coach, the promoter, the disapproving father, the concerned girlfriend, and various boxing contenders, some of which the audience gets to vote on.

At the risk of spoiling a surprise (skip this paragraph if want to remain innocent), I’m not sure it’s a good idea to keep an audience ‘volunteer’ on stage for nearly the entire show, and make him wear a mouthguard the whole time. The unsuspecting Mario was an outstandingly good sport (unless of course he was a plant, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t). Lucky they picked someone whose job it is to work with disabled people… In his position I would have been much less compliant. After 10 minutes of being used as a prop I probably would have started testing out how far I could spit the mouthguard or trying out the boxing gloves on the other characters. Perhaps this is what they were hoping for…
***spoiler ends***

I see what they were going for, but they don’t stay in character, which makes it hard for the audience to relax into it and hard for them to establish the necessary theatrical relationships. Callum Beck is most competent in this respect, and it’s his flamboyance and quick thinking that ease some of the awkward moments, but he’s not that much of a team player. ‘Comedy bitch’ Andrew Killip is only extremely put out and disgruntled half the time, the rest he seems perfectly amiable, if bored. Ben Kettell, the brains behind the show, is overly apologetic.

I think all that’s really lacking in this show is confidence. They have a sound, fun idea. As they admit (repeatedly) during the show, they could have worked on their accents more, watched a few more boxing movies and/or mafia movies to accurately inform the jokes and the Italian accents they keep defaulting to. They use ‘we haven’t done our homework’ as an excuse for some weak characterisations.  

The shtick of disorganised amateurs, disagreeing and insulting each other in front of the audience, is all good, but the one-up-man-ship is too convincing at times; that, and the constant apologising, is off-putting.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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