IVY BAR, 49 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington

16/02/2017 - 18/02/2017

NZ Fringe Festival 2017 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

The Political and The Correct showcases the work of two comedians—Corey Humm (winner of the 2016 South Island Raw Comedy Competition and Best Newcomer at the 2015 Christchurch Comedy awards), and Brittany Cardwell (so far credited only as being “big-headed-but-no-brain-stemmed” in Vanity Fair).

Corey “The Political” Humm has had an interesting year being banned for life from the Christchurch city council three times, making headlines for coming out to his family on stage, and for his ongoing feuds with John Key. Corey is one of the most energetic, brash, up-and-comers from the New Zealand comedy scene.

Brittany “The Correct” Cardwell is one confident American, so if she told you she was also a big time up-and-comer you’d believe her. Brittany has recently reduced the time she spends thinking about blackholes to focus on her book of quotes, featuring “Never look at a gift horse’s mouth and think it’s a present.” Brittany’s confidence in the poorest of her thoughts makes you wonder if there’s something to them.

Come see The Political and The Correct. We might hand out miniature flags and a copy of Brittany’s book.

Ivy Bar, 49 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011
16 & 18 Feb 2917

Theatre , Stand-up comedy ,

1 hr (not Fri)

Talented, original, funny …

Review by Aaron Alexander 18th Feb 2017

This feels like a stepping stone gig for a pair of breakout comics from the South Island. Both Brittany Cardwell (Dunedin, by way of Wellington and originally the US) and Corey Humm (Christchurch) have genuine, distinctive talent. Both look to be making the transition from notable newcomer to seasoned stand up. 

With a full house of about 50 in the charmingly dingy Ivy Bar, a mic in front of a bare brick wall, this is authentic stand up territory. The kind of gig you really want to get a bunch of under your belt as you hone your craft. A ‘whites of their eyes’ gig, where the audience are still individuals, not quite a crowd, and you have to work for your laughs. 

MC Oliver Scripps kicks the night off with gusto, warming and teasing the audience with mischievous crassness, inviting us to hate him and by extension love the main acts he introduced. Scripps finds the most connection with material drawn from his own life – something which carries through both Brittany and Corey’s sets, in an atmosphere that is unmistakeably ‘up close and personal’.

Brittany Cardwell’s stage persona is confidently dumb – and deceptively smart. She deals in absurdity, doing her utmost to navigate the modern socio-cultural landscape before losing herself in its logical extremes – such as the media’s constant negative portrayal of black holes. She illustrates (with the help of a handy chart and a willing punter) how to be sure you’re entitled to comment on an issue, and therefore which tragedies you should probably ignore completely.

She also mixes in stories of her life and family – in particular her mother’s simple pharmaceutical solution to all of life’s problems. They’re engaging, funny, and serve to both give background to the oddness of her stage persona, while also nodding to the fact it is a persona, layered on top of an authentic quirkiness.

Her delivery is a sort of deadpan millenial mumblecore, which cunningly disguises the sharpness of her satire. Occasionally, this causes pacing issues: slightly overlong setups that aren’t quite justified by the pay off; deliberate energy drop-offs between bits that – while a legitimate style choice – risk losing the audience’s flow. But these are minor issues that will stand out much less sharply with larger audiences and more hours on the mic.

What works beautifully for Brittany is the choice to not simply point and laugh at the absurdities she sees in the world, but rather to embody them, expand them, and let us enjoy their ridiculousness. It makes her a distinctive voice, and definitely a comedian to watch as she experiments and develops on the road.

Corey Humm is an electric performer and launches into the second half of the night with an acerbic ferocity – all of a sudden, this is his room, we’re just sitting in it. He declares early on that he’s been diagnosed with ADHD and – whether by choice, nature or a combination – his stage presence is all high-frequency energy and verbal attack. 

His show is full of angry, mocking observations, heavy on politics and pop culture, infused with rage. At times it verges on a tirade, risking audience fatigue – how much do we need high-volume political vitriol from someone who’s voted in two or three elections at best? But Corey shows a tremendous instinct for his audience, and a skilful control of material despite the freneticism of his delivery. It’s a balancing act, and he plays it very well, hitting his laugh lines with assurance and keeping the audience rolling with him.

There’s enough insight and intelligence in the material to keep it from falling into a pattern of #politics #wtf #amirite. He complains that John Key’s resignation has ruined half his act, but all the signs are he’ll find plenty of material in our new PM – “even whiter than John Key!” – and the coming election campaign. 

He gets even better when the material is more personal. “You guys,” he calls us, casting everyone in the room as his circle of friends, and confiding in us. We get more eye contact, more complex passion as he rants on his own sexuality, exploits and hardships. It feels more generous, more authentic, and outrageously funny. When he combines the two themes in a bit about immigrants having to sign up to fuck him as a condition of entry to New Zealand, it crystallises the transgressive, the political and the personal into a vein of comedy that Corey can distinctively ‘own’. 

Both young comics seized their Fringe opportunity and deliver an entertaining show. They’re talented, original and funny and most exciting of all – they’re going to get even better. Catch them Saturday night again at Ivy Bar – or coming soon to a club near you. 


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