Visa Comedy Gala

ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

29/04/2011 - 29/04/2011

NZ International Comedy Festival 2011

Production Details

20 of the best launch the ultimate Comedy Caper! 

Visa Comedy Gala will blow the lid off opening night to launch the 2011 NZ International Comedy Festival! 

Arj Barker(US, Flight of The Conchords) plays host to an all-star cast of comedy’s finest, including (but certainly not limited to): Danny Bhoy (SCOT), Mark Watson (UK),Wilson Dixon (US), Heath Franklin’s Chopper (AUS), Wil Anderson (AUS), Greg Proops (US), Peter Helliar(AUS), Glenn Wool (CAN), The Boy With Tape On His Face (NZ), Jarred Christmas (NZ), Rhys Mathewson (2010 Billy T Award winner), stars of 7 DaysDai Henwood& Ben Hurley and many more. 

Revel in the night of rollicking, raucous laughter that is the Visa Comedy Gala.

Fri 29 April, 8pm
ASB Theatre, Auckland
Tickets: Adults $89.50
* service fees may apply
Bookings: 0800 BUY TICKETS (289 842) 

2hrs +

Opening showcase of mirth bides well for weeks ahead

Review by Russell Baillie 05th May 2011

Just as this year’s comedy festival seems a more modest affair than past years, so was its traditional opening night extravaganza.

Which had its own upside. The epic buffet of mirth – two hours on TV, even longer in the flesh – whipped through 22 acts without turning into the usual endurathon. [More]
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.  


Make a comment

More hits than misses

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 01st May 2011

On a revolving set, resembling a lurid retro TV chat show studio, with a cluster of mirror balls, a hyper-colourful – and at times hyper-active – lighting design, 23 comedy acts take to the stage for the 2011 Visa Comedy Gala. While the cheerful set is slightly distracting a times, this is a good thing to lift the occasional act which falls a bit flat. 

Host Arj Barker, of Flight of the Concords fame, sums up the mood of the capacity crowd when he announces “the world needs a laugh, we’ve got so many problems right now”. Arj has a great night, obviously enjoying the opportunity. His sociable groove and easy going momentum, are a perfect fit with the Gala format. He even gives new sponsor Visa a mention with comedy-cred (a welcome change from a straight commercial plug).

His material includes life in California; his twist on Doctors Without Boarders; a solution to Auckland’s traffic woes; the stoning of Michael Phelps; Lance Armstrong and his habits; his insight into global warming; gay rights; text font etiquette; a new shirt and his orange sleeveless puffer jacket. Apart from his strange mic-technique, which at times made his vocal levels sound too distant, Arj is the ideal host.

Stand out jokes – causing me to throw my head back and laugh from my guts – come from Britain’s Mark Watson; Australia’s Peter Hellier and Will Anderson; Danny Bhoy from Scotland; and America’s Greg Proops. 

Mark Watson is a crowd favourite who shares humorous observations about accents; time spent in Australia and nightmares. NZ is very fond of Mark and after hearing he’s become a dad, he’s hit with friendly heckles like “What’s the baby called?” prompting him to summarize his Gala routine as “a mix of comedy and facts about my life”. Both are guaranteed to make you laugh.

Australian Will Anderson’s routine on high speed broadband and ‘wants vs. needs’ is brilliant, while fellow Oz Peter Hellier delivers blisteringly funny stuff, including a tribute to Buck Shelford; and Australia being undone by Qatar. I had tears in my eyes by the time he reminded us that the RWC would not even make NZ any money.

Elvis Costello look-a-like Greg Proops has a bountiful repertoire of dapper political comedy to match his fabulous attire. His sharp comments about Donald Trump and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi give an all too short indication of his genius.

Deafening screams greet Danny Bhoy as he strolls on stage to chat about the Irish cricket team; a gig in Texas and inappropriate moments to over-enunciate. The man can turn any irreverent topic into comedy gold. He even makes the word kerfuffle sound sexy, hilarious and exciting.

All the Internationals hit the comedy spot, without exception.

French comedian Marcel Lucont, whose irresistible arrogance and superiority make his condescending comments about our lack of vowels, a pleasure to receive. Marcel’s one word comeback when a heckler suggests he “F*** off”, is sublime. Thank god he stays to enlighten us about all manner of chair-gripping, jaw-dropping topics, such as pubic hair stylings and the world’s hippest President. 

Blurry-eyed Canadian Glenn Wool calls it like he sees it, and has the audience in stitches with his lost phone yarn and advice for single folk. The chilli joke is too crude for some, including me, but others around me loved its shock value.

UK Psycho-inspired comedian Terry Alderton still has voices in his head and his unique, impressive rewind of multiple personalities is still a multi-talented phenomenon. 

Heath Franklin’s Chopper gives the audience a short sharp comedy jolt with a brilliant routine on safety tips when flying, which of course leaves the audience wanting more. 

If ‘conceptual’, slightly left-field or visual comedy is your thing, the 3 most outstanding acts providing a contrast to conventional stand-up comedians, come from Australia’s Umbilical Brothers; New Zealander Sam Wills’ brilliant The Boy With Tape On His Face; and the consistently brilliant Wilson Dixon (from America via NZ).

The Umbilical Brothers never cease to amaze me. Highly skilled and in a league of their own, they are like The Wiggles for intelligent adults who enjoy world-class comic craft and physical dexterity.

Still the king of understated quirky observations, Wilson Dixon adds a new dimension to his brilliance – he gets excited as he sings about the difference between what you say and what you mean.

Sam Wills has fine-tuned and perfected his intriguing premise. Armed with his bag of tricks, which this year reveals the world’s funniest use of oven mitts and measuring tape, The Boy With Tape On His Face is wildly unique, unexpected, full of surprises and fun. 

Many New Zealand stand up comedians provide solid laughter throughout the Gala.

Ben Hurley continues to master the combination of puppy-dog-meets-dead-pan delivery, with hilarious fluffy yarns about calling cats and ordering pretentious drinks for minors.

Steve Wrigley shares his hilarious encounter at Westport’s busy airport, before confessing his love of Taylor Swift, by way of a segue to promoting his new direction: He’s taking his comedy to a new level for this years’ festival and written a musical. Strewth mate, can’t wait!

Fellow 7-Days star Paul Ego shares his clever mash-up of REM with Stephen Hawking; and does a brilliant impersonation of whinging poms.

Pocket rocket Dai Henwood takes us back to the 80s and his years as a wedding DJ in Lower Hutt, with high energy and visual hilarity.

In your face and very direct, London based Kiwi bloke Jarred Christmas masters lewd and crude. 

Other Kiwi acts are not yet in the same league, but still perform with confidence. Matt Mulholland rips into an at times predictable yet well-sung, well-received glam-rock ballad called “Accidental Incest”. Although Vaughan King tells a good story at the expense of Dannevirke, it lacks a bit of comedy punch at the end. While 2010 Billy T winner Rhys Mathewson has already made a big impact on the comedy scene at the tender age of 20, his Gala material is a little flat and essentially slight variations on his familiar theme.

Finally, Irene Pink & Justine Smith’s Gala performance appears to be a concept that is still somewhere in the development stage. A two-hander, it slips below the punch line, somewhere between sketch-comedy and show-promo. No doubt the content will fly when they have their own show environment to bring it home. 
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.   


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council