The Al Pitcher Experience

BATS Theatre, Wellington

24/05/2006 - 27/05/2006

ODDFELLOWS Comedy Festival

Production Details

Raised in Rotorua, with 6 years away, Al returns home after just completing his first UK tour. Now you can experience his unsystematic, unpredictable and upbeat live performances. He performed his highly praised second solo show Wolfcatcher at the Edinburgh Festival. Pitcher is a must-see.

Theatre , Comedy , Solo ,


Risk-taking riffer

Review by John Smythe 25th May 2006

Rotorua born, back from the UK, Al Pitcher’s great strength is his ability to work off the audience. He works with the houselights half up and constantly prods people for something that kick-starts or diverts the next sequence.

To some extent this also tends to make the show random and reduce any sense of structure, of accumulation building to a good finish. Indeed his opening night finish at Bats was almost apologetic, although he was clever enough to nail the possibility he’d died on stage in a way that produced the biggest laughs of his hour.

A bit more referring back to what he’s gleaned from his audience would go a long way towards resolving the structural issues. Structure and timing, they are the keys. We were a small audience and not hugely vocal, prompting him to mutter "Normally gets more" more than once.

If he has a central theme to give the night a spine it’s something to do with London still being under attack and not giving up looking for Osama Bin Laden. While this gives him a chance – also taken by Benjamin Crellin – to castigate us for our apathy, it doesn’t deliver progression and pay-off.

Pitcher’s other strong points are topicality and an easy-going physicality. Along with the war, bird flu, U2 and Trade Me, and the Australian miners, he worked in a mention of amputee climbers – riffing off an audience feed. Indeed his riffs can get quite surreal at times, provoking wide-eyed smiles rather than outright laughter.

His major set pieces are to do with sport. Cultural differences are entertainingly exposed by comparing audience-involving entertainments at a New York basketball match and a Twickenham rugby match. An account of school sports in Rotorua, the 1500 meters in particular, is his set piece.

One strong tip: loose the dwarf jokes. They’re the refuge of a desperate performer devoid of ideas and that’s not you, mate. They might work at a bar gig where the audience is pissed and mean-spirited but no-one laughed at Bats, eh.

Assuming Pitcher will have the capacity to tune in to his homeland more productively and generate his main material from there, he could well prove a winner. He lives dangerously on stage, taking risks and setting challenges many would fear to face. For that he deserves the applause he got.


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