Buskers Club at Christ’s College, Christchurch

18/01/2018 - 27/01/2018


Production Details

What would our 25th Festival be without The Boy with Tape on His Face, now known simply as Tape Face. After taking the world by storm he is coming home for a VERY strictly limited season. 

Tape Face returns to the World Buskers Festival with a world premiere of new ideas and plans.  

A show that even at the time of typing this is still being worked out…  

That’s right. It’s NEW, it’s FRESH and it’s being done here first.

Will you be one of the people who get to say ‘I saw it before anyone else?’

Tape Face has been seen all around the world and continues to wave the flag for alternative comedy from New Zealand.

“Endlessly inventive, hysterically funny.” Time Out

“Simply joyous.” The Times

Buskers Club at Christ’s College
18 – 27 January 2018

Theatre , Solo , Comedy ,

55 mins

Incongruities and anomalies exceptionally funny

Review by Tony Ryan 20th Jan 2018

After making my way from another nearby Buskers Festival stand-up show to the food and drink stalls at the Buskers Club area (not that there’s anywhere to comfortably sit and eat) we join the long queue (which eventually stretches all the way around the large Christ’s College quad) for Tape Face.

Given the size of the queue, many standing for over forty-five minutes, I discover only later that a live cross to TV is the reason for the delay in opening the doors until just eight minutes before the scheduled starting time. Some quick communication would be welcome as we wait, but the large contingent of “Crew” seem more interested in their own social interaction than in enhancing the audience experience. So it’s just as well we’re currently experiencing a real Christchurch summer and that the waiting crowd is determined to maintain a positive festival atmosphere.

I last saw The Boy with Tape on his Face at the 2012 World Buskers Festival (unfortunately I missed him while at the Edinburgh Fringe last August), since when he has established a considerable international reputation. Tonight’s show is called Tape Face – Under Construction and, compared to what I remember from six years ago, there’s definitely something of a feel of work-in-progress in this new material.

But make no mistake, what there is is the work of a genuine comic talent with a consummate sense of theatre and a stage manner that has the large, sold-out venue laughing out loud from the outset. From my seat, half way back in the stalls, there is a notable Chaplinesque impression to Sam Wills’ presentation, helped by the moustache effect of the black tape as well as the faintly silent movie nature of his movements. That, in itself, elicits laughter before anything actually ‘happens’.

The show comprises a series of unconnected gags, tenuously linked by a loudly ringing phone and failed attempts to fly a kite. The idea of the phone, for an act that includes no speech at all, has the potential for some great comedy; perhaps Under Construction could develop that somewhat.

The other constant is the interactive nature of the act, with audience members hauled, with varying degrees of willingness, onto the stage for almost every gag. This works to great effect as Wills uses both men and women as foils to enhance his own brilliance in a series of inexhaustibly inventive ideas. 

I try to analyse what makes this very individual and original style of comedy work so well. The natural comic talent of the performer is an obvious ingredient, but perhaps also it’s the simplicity of the ideas, their incongruities and anomalies; it’s hard to explain. If the show has any more serious underlying commentary, it’s about the absurdity of life and the existential nature of our experience.

There’s nothing that’s obviously political or social or cultural – there’s nothing of Trump, almost a comedy show constant these days. It’s more about taking every-day ideas and images and making them ludicrous, e.g. a high wire act, the elements of which are deconstructed and solved with hilarious absurdity.

Whatever the reason, the show is deservedly one of the festival’s headline acts, perhaps even THE headline act, and is certainly an hour of exceptionally funny entertainment, whatever its state of construction. The spacious venue also contributes significantly, allowing an often overwhelming response from the large audience whose cheers, laughter and generally ebullient mood are exhilarating to be a part of. 


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