TOM WRIGGLESWORTH Utterly at Odds with the Universe

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

06/05/2014 - 10/05/2014

San Francisco Bathhouse, 171 Cuba St, Wellington

12/05/2014 - 17/05/2014

NZ International Comedy Festival 2014

Production Details

Former ‘Best International Performer’ Winner, Sony Award Winner and Edinburgh Comedy Award Nominee Tom Wrigglesworth makes a highly-anticipated return to the 2014 NZ International Comedy Festival with his exquisite new show Utterly At Odds With The Universe in Auckland (6–10 May) and Wellington (13-17 May).

In turns poignant and hilarious, expect elegant flourishes of language, twisted logic and whimsical storytelling courtesy of one of the UK’s finest and most original comics. This show tracks the relationship he had with his Grandfather, centering on audiocassette interviews made in the mid 1980s, when Wrigglesworth was a small child.

With a disarmingly charming delivery and unforgettable appearance, this Yorkshire funny man became a national have-a-go-hero when he rescued a little old lady from the jaws of a Virgin train ticket inspector only to be arrested for begging. His subsequent stand-up version of the event secured Tom several awards including the Chortle Best Show Award, and a nomination for the Edinburgh Comedy Award. This led on to a sell out national tour of the UK, the New Zealand Comedy Festival and prestigious Montreal Comedy Festival.

His next project, Tom Wrigglesworth’s Open Letters for BBC Radio 4, tackling common consumer issues in his own hilarious way, won a highly acclaimed Sony Award for best Radio Comedy. Another BBC series, focusing on telephone conversations with his parents, aired last year.

He studied Electrical Engineering and Acoustics and worked in the telecommunications and satellite industry before caving in to friends’ repeated requests to perform stand up comedy.

“Magical storytelling…hysterical” Time Out “pick of the festival…get a ticket. This is the best there is” Steve Elgers, TV3 UK

As part of the 2014 NZ International Comedy Festival in cahoots with Old Mout Cider, grab some mates and join us for a great night of laughs from 24 April – 18 May.

For the full Comedy Fest show line-up head to

Dates: Tue 6 – Sat 10 May, 9pm
Venue: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, 50 Mayoral Drive
Tickets: $20 – $26 Bookings: 09 970 9700 //  

Dates: Mon 12 – Sat 17 May, 7pm
Venue: San Fran, 171 Cuba St
Tickets: $20 – $26
Bookings: 0800 TICKETEK (842 538) //

See Tom Wrigglesworth in action: 

Moving, poignant and full of intelligent jokes

Review by Simon Howard 13th May 2014

Utterly at Odds with the Universe brings Tom Wrigglesworth back to the Wellington stage four years after being named ‘Best International Act’ at the 2010 New Zealand International Comedy Festival.  

Upon entering the San Francisco Bathhouse, we notice that this isn’t your normal set for a stand-up gig, at least not by the standards of practically every other show in this year’s festival. Decorating the stage with an old-fashioned armchair, a rug and a cassette recorder provides a homely and welcoming feel to proceedings, as Wrigglesworth makes his entrance following the playing of a pre-recorded segment of him interviewing his granddad as a young child. Whilst this seems a bizarre opening, it all becomes clear by the end of the show. 

The first part of the hour sees Wrigglesworth talk about the relationship he has with his granddad, someone for whom it is clear he has a deep affection and someone he always turned to for advice when he was younger. The stories of the two achieving ‘personal bests ‘strike a lovely mix, being both heart-warming and funny. It is a feature which appears to great effect throughout the hour. 

The set is mainly centred on this relationship but also focusses on a recent holiday the comedian took to Dubai and a posh dinner party he was invited to speak at. His description of the party and the characters he encountered is particularly hilarious, with the experience providing a huge amount of material for Wrigglesworth to draw upon.

We are vividly sucked in to the stories he tells, although it is interrupted and slowed down at times by the fact that much of what he references is quintessentially British, therefore requiring Wrigglesworth to deliver a New Zealand equivalent to make it funny to his predominantly local audience. So the names of Judith Collins, Paula Bennett and Winston Peters are dropped in to give the requisite relatable element to some of the stories he brings to life.

He delivers an amusing aside about Gillette Soccer Saturday, a popular sports program back in the UK which I am familiar with from my time there, but which sadly goes over the heads of the rest of the audience on this opening night.

Wrigglesworth nonetheless tells stories with such grace and skill that no matter the subject, it is a delight to listen to and frequently brings a smile to the face. There are more than enough laughs throughout the hour, with the sharp delivery and affable nature of the performer getting the audience onside very early on and keeping them engaged for the majority of the hour.

The emotional ending strikes a nerve, and for the first time ever in a comedy show, leaves me weeping with sadness. After a hearty hour of laughter, it certainly catches me by surprise but goes to show the effect of the performance. For anyone who has or has had a close relationship with a grandparent, this is a show which will resonate and delight in equal measure.

Moving, poignant and full of intelligent jokes, this goes down as a highly recommended pick for the final week of the festival. 


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Full of heart and genuine laughs

Review by Johnny Givins 07th May 2014

Stand-up is the most heroic of solo performances.  On stage with only a microphone, your talent, an audience – it lays bare the soul of performer when it does not go according to plan. Opening night for Tom Wrigglesworth has a couple of those moments.  His radio microphone has a couple of splutters and silent spots, going mute just as he delivers a great punch line!  Bugger!!  It is opening night in a new town with a week of shows to fulfil.  He is sweating! 

However the comedy soul of Tom Wigglesworth is strong, glowing, and honest with a great story to tell.  The audience bonds with the performer and in our good Kiwi manner we don’t stress.  Born in Sheffield, Tom, I am sure, thinks it is a disaster.  The Audience doesn’t! 

Winner of NZ International Festival Best International Act in 2010, Tom Wrigglesworth returns with an astonishing, well written and bitter sweet script that breaks new boundaries in the stand-up format. 

Utterly at Odds with the Universe is the honest recollection of his relationship with his beloved grandfather. It starts with a cassette recording of Tom’s interview with his grandfather at age 6. The stories are events from Tom’s growing up with his grandfather: a man who could fix anything with the right tool and had a shed full of them.  He introduces Tom to a life time of recording Personal Bests; “Anyone can get a world record, only you can get a personal best.”  Tom’s personal bests are unusual and, overall, funny.  His relationship with his granddad is filled with affection and Yorkshire understatements. 

The great script’s images, gags and events keep reappearing later in the act to reinforce other stories.  They weave a bitter sweet comedy touching on youth, growing up, travel, married life, and of course sex.  He also enters that dangerous territory for comedy – death – but survives with some “aughs” and laughs.  He involves us in the relationship so when it changes we are with him.  His emotional truth resonates with the full house audience.

This is not a stand-up full of gags although there are some very funny moments and hilarious situations.  It is sophisticated humour and quite different from other shows in the Festival. 

Wrigglesworth is a very tall, gangly, long haired, goateed, straight man – more “drug user” than “drug dealer” – and he tells affectionate and personal stories.  He is also interactive with the audience and on opening night he works that well.  His new script is straight from a season on the UK circuit of Leeds and similar towns.  He tries to make changes so some names are more familiar to the NZ audience. Given the disruption to the rhythm of his set due to technical problems, and the ‘translation’ to Kiwi, the opening performance does lose some power it had the potential to deliver.  

Tom Wrigglesworth is playing at the Herald theatre all week.  It’s a 9pm show and duration is about 75 minutes.  Utterly at Odds with the Universe is polished, different, sophisticated, and professional: a show full of heart and genuine laughs. 


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