The Secret Diary of the Donkey Kong Kid

The Basement, Auckland

21/05/2009 - 23/05/2009

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details


"Today on Donkey Kong Suzie got 344 but after that game I came along and got 357!  I went to ballet." Penny Ashton’s Diary 18.08.83, age 9 yrs. 

"THE HISTORIC DAY CAME TO PASS…..I had sex. Whoopee huh. It’s really nothing at all amazing the first time.  Kate said it’s a lot better after the first time is over and done with, I hope she’s right." Penny Ashton’s Diary 07.11.92, age 18 yrs. 

Top NZ and Comedy Fest personalities mainline their tortured childhoods through diaries, baby pics, crap poetry and teen angst.  It’s puberty all over again…but thankfully this time there’s booze.

International Comedienne Penny Ashton hosts a revolving line-up of some of NZ’s best known celebrities and international guests including Te Radar, Janey Godley, Alison Mau, Lucy Schmidt (The Pretender), Ben Cragg (Lead Singer of the Benka Borodovsky Bordello Band) and Hip Hop Poet Tourettes, as they excavate their hope chests and spill in public those moments that made them the wonderful human beings they are today.

Come share in their experiences, which will no doubt mirror ours, as we all confront together the horrifying clothes, curfews, kisses, crises and quiffs that make up our charmed adolescence.  

Penny Ashton is one of NZ’s most prolific comediennes having performed 200 solo shows in the last 2 years alone in NZ, Australia, Canada and the UK.  She is the creator of Poetry Idol, the smash hit of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, is a social commentator on Radio New Zealand National and Breakfast TV and has represented NZ in both Improv and Performance Poetry in Germany and the UK.  In 2009 Penny is touring her sell-out show Hot Pink Bits from Hamilton to Gore and sifting through years of angst written journals and the odd Garfield Sticker Collection.

"Ashton is irresistibly charismatic, her humour is infectious and her razor sharp wit incisive and exceedingly saucy." Adelaide Independent Weekly  

Dates:  May 21st – 23rd, 10pm
Venue:  The Basement
Tickets:  $18/$16 Groups 6+ $16
Bookings:  0800 TICKETEK, or at the Door. 

1hr 10 mins

Yarns spun from childhood

Review by Nik Smythe 22nd May 2009

When I was in primary school, my best friend Malcolm and I had serious plans to build a spaceship and fly into outer space in it.  Inspired by a children’s adventure novel called The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, we were in fact intending to find the real Mushroom Planet and to this end wrote exercise-book journals outlining the plan, with numerous prospective spaceship designs included.  For some time, days or weeks I can’t recall, I was genuinely excited about the project, somehow confident we were going to succeed. 

But when Malcolm showed me the work he’d been doing on the ‘dashboard’ – a plank of actual board, with bottle caps and clothing buttons nailed to it and labelled with a marker pen – the hard reality of the total unfeasible science of it all crashed down upon me.  I don’t know why I chose to lose faith then and not earlier when he’d proposed the ingenious method of propulsion: to schedule the launch for Nov 5, and attach enough fireworks to the rocket’s base to get us off the ground and through the stratosphere.

This is one of my favourite childhood memories, a soft kind of loss of innocence that still makes me chuckle.  It has nothing as such to do with The Secret Diary of the Donkey Kong Kid, besides being a conceptual sample of the sort of yarn you might hear spun by any of the eclectic range of guests on any of the three given nights. 

Any such tale may just as likely be contrasted with something less quaint, more visceral;  Janey Godley for instance, reading from her autobiography, struggling to find a passage that doesn’t contain any murder, abuse, rape, armed police raids or other such horrors that are apparently the bread and butter of this lovably hilarious woman’s life.  Meanwhile, in her tattered archival snap as a fresh-faced child of fourteen in Glasgow you can instantly recognize her wry smile and the skeptical sparkle in her eyes.

Emcee Penny Ashton has brought all her eighteen diaries, which she began in the early 80s.  She volunteers a number of juicy tidbits selected from these volumes, typically marked with entertainingly vicious threats toward any unauthorized nosey parkers.  Plus, the unmitigated treat of archival footage from the old early-80s Steve Parr What Now, as a background jazzercisor, yes really!

Ben Cragg, the red-bearded vocalist for local gypsy sensation the Benka Borodovsky Bordello Band, begins by explaining his childhood was more cool than funny.  He offers an epic memoir about running home from school when he was five to escape punishment for swearing, before taking us upon a musical journey with rare cassette recordings of his early nineties heavy metal chops and obligatory tormented lyrics.

Opening night guest #3 Andrew Lumsden aka Te Radar, virtually skips right over his childhood, subtly implying he didn’t really have one? … Instead he plunders the journals of his formative years in comedy, excavating such amusingly telling adages as ‘I am too lazy to become successful, so instead I am going to have to become famous’. 

Inevitably with an anthological experiment of this kind, there are too many moments of magic to give a comprehensive overview.  Lumsden’s bitter Ode to Theatre makes a fine incidental finale: a vitriolic tirade against the worst examples of theatre’s empty pretensions, which he spontaneously rededicated to every play he’d seen in this venue with American accents.   

The remainder of the season features more ComedyFest talent local and abroad, plus various celebrities from other corners of our great media and surprise guests.  You can find out who (but not when) on the production page but really, when dealing with such uniquely personal material from each player’s past, there’s no way of knowing what kind of stories you’ll be treated to by any of them.  You’d really need to see them all. 
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. 


Editor May 22nd, 2009

Here is the lineup for the next 2 nights:

Friday 22 May: 
Andrew Clay
Nick Ward (writer: Stickmen/2nd Hand Wedding)
Lucy Schmidt
Stayci Taylor
Tourettes (tho he is sick, not sure)

Saturday 23 May: 
Ali Ikram
Ali Mau
Danielle Cormack
Mark Scott

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