Toitoi - Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre 101 Hastings Street South, Hastings

21/10/2023 - 21/10/2023

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2023

Production Details

Created and performed by Wilson Dixon

Loved by audiences the world over and with a host of comedy awards under his good ol’ western belt, Wilson Dixon, lover of love, singer of music, and rider of horses returns to NZ with his latest tour.

Dixon is known to many as the greatest country singer Cripple Creek, Colorado has ever produced, as well as the only country singer Cripple Creek has ever produced. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a pretty good achievement. Life of late has been fun* for Wilson, navigating his way through the virus-denying, QAnon-believing, alt-right leaning members of his own family.

Join Wilson as he performs his brand-new show with brand new-songs and stories about his unfortunately not brand-new extended family.

(*Use of the word ‘fun’ in the above context is heavily nuanced.)

Fred Award – Best Show NZ International Comedy Fest
Golden Chicken Award – Best Show Christchurch International Buskers Festival
Spank Award – Best Musical Comedy Edinburgh Fringe Festival
NZ Comedy Guild Award for Comic Originality
Nominee Best Show Melbourne International Comedy Festival

“Simply sensational and utterly unmissable” (tvnz.co.nz) with a “deadpan delivery of some of the funniest songs you’ll ever hear…” (Time Out, UK)

Toitoi – Functions on Hastings
101 Hastings Street South, Hastings
Saturday 21 October 2023

Theatre , Comedy , Solo ,

1 hr

A celebration of absurdity, finding humour in the mundane and unexpected details of life

Review by Jo Morris 22nd Oct 2023

The laconic, leisurely style of this show is in evidence from the outset, when Wilson Dixon strolls onto the stage, sits on the stool centre front and drawls, “Awright.” Very quickly, the deadpan delivery of a southern States cowpoke/ country musician is established and maintained in a professional, polished performance by Jesse Griffin.

The format is chat-and-song, from the “greatest country singer Cripple Creek has ever produced.” He talks about his life and family, and sings songs from his amusingly titled albums. Most of the chat is underpinned by simple guitar strumming, which heightens the folksy feel.

He leans heavily into the country music tropes of love, heartbreak and small town/rural life, fleshing out the southern hillbilly comic persona of Wilson Dixon with tales of his numerous family members – most successfully when he talks about his brother Jethro, and the trials of living with him. Hence the show’s full title: Put The Gun Down, Jethro! (and other happy memories from recent family gatherings).

The show is slow paced, which suits his laconic presentation. I find there is sometimes too long between laughs or songs – but my companion doesn’t agree; she is happy to go along for the ride.

The patter is comfortable rather than confronting, and it is easy to relax into the format and enjoy. Although he does compare our recent election results to the States, and one song alludes to the issue of gun control, in both cases, the material stays light-hearted rather than heading into satire. The tone is warm, and we’re invited to share the jokes rather than be challenged by them.

The one exception is some of the material about Maureen, the ex-wife, which is darker and more adult in places. In fact, some lyrics in the accompanying song feel incongruous, and don’t get the audience response of the rest of the show.

Highlights for me are all to do with wordplay: a close look, for example, at catch phrases and sayings like ‘I wouldn’t touch that with a bargepole’. He draws attention to the absurdities of English through this close examination, often by looking literally at a colloquial phrase, or carrying it to its logical conclusion.

The songs follow this pattern of deep diving into the foibles of the English language, but he also gives us a master class in how humour is derived from specific and unexpected detail and observation. Often, the laugh comes with a turn at the end of a sentence into something out of left field, accompanied with a deliberate abandonment of both metre and rhyme: “It’s better to have loved and lost than to …” [spoiler averted]. In this regard, there are echoes of both Front Lawn and Flight of the Conchords.

Put the Gun Down Jethro is, at its best, a celebration of absurdity, which showcases how humour can be found in the mundane and unexpected details of life.


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