MICF 2014: CJ Delling – Reality Bandit

CJ DellingReviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

Even though I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show, I was looking forward to seeing it nonetheless. Fresh from a season at the Adelaide Fringe, Reality Bandit is billed as a show about “truth, biases, and other problems you didn’t know you had”.

CJ Delling is a Sydney-based German comedian who has performed across the US, Canada, and Scotland. Though only performing to an expected smaller and quieter crowd due to the early evening time slot, Delling never eased back on the enthusiasm but delivered her material confidently as if she were performing to a few hundred people.

The show consists of some well-crafted one-liners that would sit well with anyone who grew up near a beach, or in Wales. Delling’s stories spanned over the last decade during her time in Australia, in particular the adventures and lifestyle changes that come with it. She also half focuses – and a little heavily in parts – on the rarity of the combination that she is a German comedian living in Australia.

I don’t know if I was taken on a “cheerful comical expedition into our relationship with reality” but I think overall Reality Bandit is a good show with a fair amount of potential. I definitely believe that it would have brought in a larger audience had this show been scheduled later.

3-stars

Reality Bandit is at The Bull and Bear Tavern Wednesdays to Saturdays throughout the festival at 6:30pm.  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

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MICF 2014: Justin Hamilton – Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994

Justin HamiltonReviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994. It’s a title that gives away little but is later revealed to be so very important to the narrative so much so that the show would very possibly collapse without it.

The show begins by letting the audience settle in to the kind of music one would expect from a Justin Hamilton show; seasoned Hamilton fans would have absolutely no doubt as to who they were about to see while first timers in the crowd are put in the right mood for what is to come.

As soon as the first line is spoken, the mood is set. It is clear what kind of show this is. You are there to hear a story, not be a part of it. Hamilton takes you to a place that you know is real, not some hastily assembled environment where he fits in as many jokes as possible. Through his expert delivery, you are immersed in to the narrator’s mind.

In this show, Hamilton helps you understand a significant part of his life – when he decided that it was time for something new. This decision subsequently led him to being offered something far bigger and better than he expected, and unquestionably far more rewarding.

Throughout the hour we delve in to the mindset of a man exploring a whole new world that has opened up to him. We are taken on a ride and relive many moments with Hamilton; from the hilariously confronting explanations of a very real situation one would not enjoy being put in to, to the heart-in-your-mouth moments that have the audience on the edge of their seats.

This isn’t a show to go to for a quick laugh or to heckle the guy on stage. This is an enjoyable opportunity to see the inside of someone’s life and laugh along with him. Have no doubt, you will laugh, and laugh hard, but be prepared to learn also.

Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994 is well prepared and expertly delivered by a well-rounded, seasoned professional. It garnered eruptive applause at its conclusion, and quite rightly so. Go in open minded and you’ll enjoy it.

4-stars

Justin Hamilton will be performing in the Accacia Room at the Victoria Hotel from March 27th until April 19th (not Mondays).  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

On Mondays throughout the festival, Hamilton can also be found co-hosting The Shelf, touted Australia’s best live comedy show, at the Toff in Town.  Click here for more details and tickets.

Preview: Gordon Southern

Gordon Southern 2014

Reviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

I was lucky enough to be able to catch Southern during his week-long season headlining at The Comic’s Lounge in Melbourne where he not only showcased some of his best work but also took the opportunity to fine tune some new material for his upcoming new show, Your New Favourite Comedian.

Southern effectively followed on from material that had already been laid down by the preceding comedians in the lineup while effortlessly interacting with the crowd.  His act contained both current and local references, rather than solely relying on proven generic material.

Clearly a shining star in his field, this seasoned pro is unquestionably underrated in the Australian comedy scene.  Based on the reaction from the crowd tonight though, this should rightfully change.  Southern is “down under” until the middle of May, performing his shows of the last two years – A Brief History of History (2012), and The Kerfuffle* (2013) – before premiering his 2014 show in Adelaide for the Adelaide Fringe.

*Editor note: I saw The Kerfuffle at last year’s New Zealand International Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – check out my 5-star review of the latter performance here.

Southern is a comedian who never fails to deliver and has a great record of winning over even the coldest of comedy rooms with tales from his home in London and of his travels.  This overwhelmingly knowledgeable comedian expertly controls his environment to ensure each of his punchlines have maximum impact, all with the appearance of never even being slightly challenged.

Get in quick to get tickets to this star performer at every chance you can, he’s not one to be missed.

5-stars

Gordon Southern will be premiering his new show Your New Favourite Comedian at the Adelaide Fringe from February 13th – March 1st.  For tickets, click here.

Southern will then be performing at the Canberra Comedy Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival and New Zealand International Comedy Festival respectively.

NZICF 2013: Markus Birdman – Love, Life and Death

Markus BirdmanI had only seen Markus do brief spots throughout the festival and what I saw I loved so I was eager to see this man strut his stuff for a full hour.  And am I glad I did as it was an absolute comedic treat!

Markus Birdman is 42 years old, a stroke survivor, a self-proclaimed obsessed hypochondriac, an atheist and an ex-goth.  This is only the tip of the iceberg; Love, Life and Death is a candid recounting, a memoir of sorts, of the things he has encountered and experienced in life plus a generous helping of jokes and funny anecdotes along the way.

Throughout the hour, laughter fills the room as we learn a myriad of things like his idea of the perfect death, the time he slapped a disabled child and how a first date got ruined by carrots.  Markus is the consummate raconteur – he holds our attention with ease and each and every story is perfectly structured with excellent comedic timing.

His material does have a controversial side so be prepared to be shocked and there will be some cringe-worthy moments too.  No topic is considered too taboo and nothing is too inappropriate for Markus to talk about in a room full of strangers but it is this brazen attitude that is part of his charm.

Love, Life and Death is an hour of constant hilarity with an uplifting ending that leaves you unexpectedly inspired.  Markus Birdman’s witty and sometimes crass style of comedy will thoroughly entertain and leave you gasping for breath.

The Whimsical Banana rates Love, Life & Death: 5/5 bananas!

Your last chance to catch Markus Birdman is TONIGHT at 7:15pm at The Classic Studio (click here for tickets) and/or at the final The Big Show at 8:45pm at The Comedy Chamber (click here for tickets).

NZICF 2013: Dan Nightingale – On Love, On Life and on the North Island

Dan NightingaleSome people have a natural gift of the gab and just know how to tell a good story and Dan Nightingale certainly is one of them.  His storytelling style is casual and conversational and his set feels more like you’re out at a bar having drinks with a good friend.

On Love, On Life and on the North Island is a collection of hilarious anecdotes and random musings from Dan’s life. He covers a range of topics from sharing about his Saturday mornings with Nigella to ranting about his maddening flatmate who has the nerve to eat the “bread defender” (the crust) to an amusing story involving his nephew’s unwavering commitment to singing carols.

It takes great skill to be able to deliver a string of ramblings in a way that it doesn’t appear too prepared but still forms a cohesive and compelling hour of stand up.  Dan nails this perfectly; his material is well structured and cleverly written with some genius one liners, some of which are easily missed as they come up as mere fleeting remarks.

The thing I particularly enjoyed about this show was Dan’s boundless energy and jovial nature which I found to be extremely captivating.  He comes across as genuinely personable which made the Vault at Q the ideal venue as it helped him to easily engage and form a great rapport with the audience.

Dan Nightingale’s observational humor is incredibly fast paced, deliciously self-deprecating and highly entertaining.  On Love, On Life and on the North Island gives you plenty to laugh about and is the perfect mid-week comedy fix.

The Whimsical Banana rates On Love, On Life & on the North Island: 5/5 bananas!

Dan Nightingale has 2 more shows at 8:45pm tonight and tomorrow night at the Vault at Q plus one extra earlier show at 5:30pm tomorrow.  Click here for tickets.

NZICF 2013: Tom Binns as Ian D Montfort

Ian D Montfort A medium who is also a comedian – now there’s an unlikely pairing.  Tom Binns proves this is perfectly possible with his excellent and convincing portrayal of alter ego Ian D Montfort, the spirit “comedium”.

You are immediately drawn to Ian from the get-go as he is just such a warm and affable character.  He kicks off the show by ironically poking fun at other mediums and telling us he is not like them, that you do not have to be bereaved to be at his show as he only delivers messages from people you don’t know.  This humorous perspective of his ability coupled with his camp disposition is part of his charm and what makes the show so enjoyable to watch.

Throughout the hour, Ian engages with the crowd and makes predictions with staggering accuracy through the usual divinatory means – astrology, tarot cards, numerology.  While I don’t doubt some of his mind-reading methods must involve some form of skilled trickery, there were some things he managed to guess correctly which he couldn’t possibly have known.  I still don’t know how he does it and I don’t want to know as it’s all part of the magic and brilliance of this show!

There are also times when he does get it wrong but he quickly recovers, simply amending the reading to suit so it turns out he is still right.  For example he would guess that someone’s car is black and when they say no he would say matter-of-factly without a skipping a beat that it is indeed black…at night.  His quick wit and sharp responses remind us that Ian is also quite the adept comedian.

Skeptic or not, there’s no denying that Ian D Montfort is an accomplished and gifted performer and what he pulls off in the show will truly astound you.  This is a show you will have to see to believe, and what you will see will baffle and amaze.

The Whimsical Banana rates Ian D Montfort: 5/5 bananas!

Ian D Montfort will be making predictions for 2 more nights at the Loft at Q.  Click here for tickets.

NZICF 2013: Le Comique – Keep Calm and Comedy On

Le Comique

Le Comique is a riotous night of comedy with a bit of a twist.  Featuring an eclectic line up of mostly “oddball” acts, this is a great option for those who enjoy their comedy a bit on the quirky side.

This delectable variety show is co-hosted this year by boisterous ex-pat icons Jarred Christmas and Urzila Carlson and there couldn’t have been a more suitable pair to host the festivities.  From Urzila enlightening us on what “white people curry” is to Jarred’s amusing “true anecdote time”, this energetic duo easily kept the audience well and truly entertained throughout.  I particularly enjoyed the series of “joke offs” where they tried to best each other which in the end culminated with someone prancing around in a flashy red onesie!

With eight acts on the bill, your laughing muscles do get a bit of a workout!  In the first half, Vance Fontaine impressed with improvised songs about love and refrigerators and select audience members received scarily accurate tarot readings by gifted spirit “comedium” Ian D Montfort.  Then Clayton Carrick-Leslie entertained us with his John Key impersonation and a rant about the fine dining menus of today before things turn a little raunchy with some cheeky cabaret by the saucy ladies of Titty Bar Ha Ha.

Markus Birdman kicks off the second half with his brilliant style of witty sometimes controversial commentary followed by “Juan Vesuvius from Venezuela” whose bizarre interpretation of calypso music with maracas and audio tracks didn’t quite resonate with the audience.  James Acaster picked the energy back up with a hilarious set which included a crash course on the three types of mariachi  music and his aspirations to be a sky writer.  The evening ends on a high with crowd favorite The Boy With Tape On His Face who effortlessly enthralled us with his unique brand of silent comedy.

Le Comique is the perfect way to end the weekend and a nice halfway point in the comedy festival.  If you didn’t make it this year, I strongly recommend that you add this to your to-see list next year!

The Whimsical Banana rates Le Comique: 5/5 bananas!

Most of these acts are performing their solo shows this week.  Check out comedyfestival.co.nz for dates and tickets.

NZICF 2013: James Acaster

James AcasterJames Acaster really snuck up on us, didn’t he?  Ever since his excellent set at the comedy gala, New Zealand has fallen in love with him.  He certainly has taken the festival by storm and I feel extremely privileged to have gotten to see this talented young comic in his solo show.

They say never judge a book by its cover and this could not ring truer with James.  Do not be fooled by his meek demeanor – he may be more on the introverted side and the show is quite low energy but it is this more restrained style of storytelling that makes his material so captivating and utter comedic gold.

James delivers an hour of amusing anecdotes and wry observations from his foolproof business plan on handing out free refills as an ice cream man (should the comedy not work out) to his annoyance at songs that don’t rhyme.  His stories have pretty elaborate narratives but they never ever drag – his set is wonderfully witty and intelligently written, perfectly paced with impeccable comedic timing.

By the end of the show we will learn many things about James – how much he loves mariachi music, his skills at Twister and how he plans on clearing Yoko Ono’s name.  Each story transitions smoothly to the next and we even get some “DVD extras” at the end too which I thought was a brilliant touch!

James Acaster is the quintessential stand up comedian and someone who will be in this industry for years to come.  His show is extremely entertaining and a barrel of laughs that will leave you wanting more.  If you don’t get to see him this year, make sure you do on his next visit!

The Whimsical Banana rates James Acaster: 5/5 bananas!

James Acaster’s Auckland season is all but sold out!  Due to this overwhelming demand,  he has added an extra show at The Basement on Saturday May 18th at 5pm.  Tickets for these are flying out the door so get in quick – click here for tickets.  If you miss out, your only chance to catch him live this year is at The Big Show – for tickets to this event, click here.

NZICF 2013: Titty Bar Ha Ha

Titty Bar Ha HaTitty Bar Ha Ha – the name alone should grab your attention and get you curious enough to buy a ticket to find out more.  Sexy, bawdy and just a little wrong, this is the perfect late night rendezvous for those who like their cabaret a little blue.

Set in 1943 England during World War II, we meet Hope and Gloria, the “providers of pleasure” of Titty Bar Ha Ha, a burlesque bar they run.  We learn that they are hiding a very human, very dead secret in their basement which is causing some anxiety but this does not stop them from doing what they do best – entertain and deliver a rollicking good time!

Throughout the hour you can expect many a raunchy song and suggestive dance that will make you both giggle and blush.  The lyrics are incredibly audacious and unabashedly risqué with witty double entendres and are performed superbly with great conviction by this talented duo.  They have some serious vocal chops and they also do an impressive kazoo duet which was a clear crowd favorite.

Although Hope and Gloria love the attention and the spotlight, they also enjoy interacting with the crowd.  They mingle and flirt with the audience and be prepared to be picked to get involved in the shenanigans too, be it in a game of “spit or swallow” or an impromptu dance audition.  This is definitely not a show for the shy and reserved!

If songs about sex and masturbation make you uncomfortable then Titty Bar Ha Ha is probably not for you.  But if you don’t offend easy and are up for some high-end smut, this show has it in spades.  Be warned though: the songs are extremely catchy and you will find yourself humming the melodies the morning after.

The Whimsical Banana rates Titty Bar Ha Ha: 4/5 bananas!

Titty Bar Ha Ha is at The Basement for 4 more nights – May 15th to 18th at 10pm.  For tickets, click here.

NZICF 2013: The Boy With Tape On His Face – More Tape

The Boy With Tape On His Face Both a national treasure and household name in the UK comedy scene, The Boy With Tape On His Face needs no introduction.  After a successful Edinburgh Fringe season where he garnered a staggering eleven five star reviews and won the esteemed Fosters Panel Prize, followed by a twenty-two show run at London’s West End, The Boy is back home with an encore season of More Tape.

The Boy proves that you do not need words to put on a stomping good show.  More Tape is an hour of silent fun backed by a killer soundtrack and is a fabulous mix of magic, vaudeville, puppetry and loads of props!  We are taken in to the world of The Boy where oven mitts sing (my personal favorite!), a game of golf is only a hairdryer away and a measuring tape can provide endless fun possibilities.

Audience interaction is an integral part of the show – you are forewarned this at the very start and advised that you should just play along.  Many people get nervous at comedy gigs (especially if you are seated in the front) for fear of being picked on but this show is one of very few where you hope to be chosen as you want to be a part of the adventure.

Sam Wills, the talented man behind this endearing silent character is an absolute master at his craft.  The show is clever, innovative and well structured – every gag is imaginative and perfectly placed with great comedic value.  Sam sets each one up brilliantly and demonstrates effortlessly that actions speak louder than words, using animated gestures and that signature wide-eyed expression to tell his story.

More Tape is exceedingly fun, wonderfully whimsical and absolutely hysterical – a truly magical experience.  If you haven’t yet seen this extremely entertaining show, put simply you need to.  Your inner child will thank you for it.

The Whimsical Banana rates More Tape: 5/5 bananas!

The Boy With Tape On His Face is performing at Rangatira at Q until Saturday May 18th.  This is your last chance to catch this multi-award winning show so don’ t miss out and get in quick as the season will sell out!  Click here for tickets.

UPDATE: Due to popular demand, The Boy has added an extra show at 5pm on May 18th!