Maidment Theatre - Musgrove Studio, Auckland

07/05/2014 - 10/05/2014

NZ International Comedy Festival 2014

Production Details

NZ’s #1 improvised comedy act gives you double the fun! 

The Improv Bandits, New Zealand’s improv comedy sensation is performing two different shows in the2014 NZ International Comedy Festival: The Improv Bandits & The Eliminator.

The Improv Bandits are performing their traditional high-energy show that has seen them share the stage with comedy heavyweights such as Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Dan Castenella (Homer from The Simpsons) andGeorge Wendt (Norm from Cheers) and star in the 2004, 2008 and 2009 NZ Comedy Gala. 

They are also performing in The Eliminator, a hilarious romp where they will be directing each other in improvised scenes trying to win enough Oscars from the audience to achieve the coveted position of Best Director. The audience scores each directed time-limited scene either an Oscar (if they liked it) or Lemon (if they didn’t like it). The director with the most Oscars at the end of the night “eliminates” the other directors with a high-powered water gun.

The Improv Bandits are made up of eight of the best improv actors in the country headed by double world improv champion Wade Jackson. The Improv Bandits are Geoff Simmons, Greg Ward, Mark Scott, Matt Halliday, Michael Fletcher, Tony Gilbert, Tom Kane and Wade Jackson.

For some people the fear of death is more welcoming than performing in front of others – The Improv Bandits go out on stage having no idea what they’re going to do and say next! Constantly revolving the cast keeps the show fresh for the cast and audience alike.

The recipe for The Improv Bandits success is how they work together as a team. With a motto of “no scripts, no gimmicks, no safety net!” they can’t afford to let egos and imaginations battle on stage. The Improv Bandits have the reputation as one of most exciting comedy shows ever to come out of New Zealand. Be sure to catch their shows!

The Improv Bandits
Dates:  7 – 10 May (Wed to Sat) 
Venue:  Musgrove Studio, Maidment Theatre 
Time:  8.30pm 
Tickets:  $26
Bookings:  (09) 308 2383  

The Eliminator
Dates:  14 – 17 May (Wed to Sat) 
Venue:  Musgrove Studio, Maidment Theatre 
Time:  8.30pm 
Tickets:  $26 

Bookings:  (09) 308 2383

Opening night lineup:
Greg Ward, Mark Scott, Michael Fletcher, Paul Paice, Tom Kane, Wade Jackson 

Outrageously brilliant

Review by Regan Crummer 08th May 2014

I have always been fascinated by the art of improvisation. There is something magical about braving the boards with nothing more than sometimes a single word to guide you through the fog and mist of good old improv. The things you utter never fail to surprise and will more often than not send people into hysterical fits of laughter. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge but know for a fact that having to improvise would send some actors to an early grave. 

This short showcase, performed by six members of the Improv Bandits, is a true privilege to watch. They really have mastered the techniques behind improvisation, and this evening leaves me holding a great deal of respect for this closely knit group of thespians. It is truly a splendid performance.

The super six – Greg Ward, Mark Scott, Michael Fletcher, Paul Paice, Tom Kane, Wade Jackson – start the show off with a bang (literally) with three solid freeze frame pictures, breaking the last of them with a united firing of imaginary pistols. The message is clear: the bandits are here!

This grand entrance is followed by a very informal introduction, where each of the improvisers take turns at warming the audience up using various methods, including roaring out your favorite superhero, and also mimicking laughter. A connection between the performers and the audience is immediately established here, and everyone joins in with hearty gusto. The audience is included consistently throughout the evening, adding suggestions for every stretch, and I really am a fan of this, as it adds to the seasoning of this performance.

A number of scenarios are eagerly recommended by members of the audience, and the Bandits pull each one off with skills that any comedian would envy. There are two musical numbers, one about a mysterious cucumber the other about being engaged, and these (accompanied by guitar) are ridiculously funny. As a musician myself, I have to compliment Greg Ward in particular on his spiffing voice.

There are open scenes set in a Western Cowboy Town bar.  There is a skit in where half the troupe provides voices whilst the other half acts out the physical side of things. And let’s not forget the very entertaining scene set on a desert island (location determined by a keen spectator) where the actors have to ‘become’ the emotion that is thrown at them in single words (e.g. misery, amazed, disgust).  Everything here – and I cannot stress this enough – is fresh and not rehearsed at all. Incredible. I want to join in!

Some of the formulas and techniques employed are as old as the Great Wall of China, and they are extremely and effectively delivered by the Bandits. The audience is nearly always in stiches. 

The group is very chivalrous to one another, and they obviously have a strong relationship. Successful group improvisation is hugely dependent on working as a team and the Bandits show a commitment to their teamwork that deserves to be applauded. They are able to bounce off each other, and the energy current that they create surges through the audience as well. Everything flows smoothly, and there are no awkward moments.  

I cannot recommend this evening enough to you. It is outrageously brilliant, and out of all the improvisation I have seen, this would have to be number one.  I have nothing bad to state about this performance and I am normally extremely hard to impress. Go see the show!


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