NZICF 2014: My Top Picks!

NZICF 2014It’s that time of the year again for all us Kiwi comedy geeks – the New Zealand International Comedy Festival!  As I am on the other side of the world, sadly I will not be attending this year – my first in since forever! – but rest assured I will be supporting, reading reviews, tweeting, etc from afar.

Another top line up this year as to be expected with the usual suspects but also some new faces!  For those who are getting overwhelmed by all the shows that are on offer, here are my recommendations (in no particular order):

Chris Martin - NZICF 20141. Chris Martin

Chris’ warped perspective on many things in life and his great comedic sense is an excellent formula for a fantastic, laughs aplenty hour of comedy.

I went to his Edinburgh Fringe show last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself – check out my Broadway Baby review here.

Chris will be performing at the Loft at Q on 25 & 26 April and from 29 April to 3 May.  Click here for more details and to book tickets.

Markus Birdman - NZICF 20142. Markus Birdman

Markus is an extremely sharp and engaging comedian and a captivating raconteur.  His anecdotes are skillfully structured with pitch-perfect comedic timing and will have you in stitches.

Check out what I thought of this same show when I went to see it at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe here.

Markus is at The Classic on 25 & 26 April and from 28 April to 3 May.  He is then performing at the San Francisco Bath House in Wellington from 6 to 10 May before he’s off on a nationwide tour as part of the Comedy Convoy!  Click here for more details and to book tickets to his solo show.

Gordon Southern - NZICF 20143. Gordon Southern

Gordon is the best comedian to go see if you are after comedy that is witty, fast-paced, energetic and just so incredibly feel-good.

Last year’s show was such a joy to watch and one of my favorites from both last year’s festival and the Edinburgh Fringe – here’s my review of the latter show.

Gordon will be at The Vault at Q from 6 to 10 May and The Fringe Bar in Wellington from 13 to 17 May.  Click here for more details and to book tickets – also features my contributor The Laughing Kiwi’s review of this year’s show which is currently at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Jason Byrne - NZICF 20144. Jason Byrne

Jason is born to be on the stage and to do comedy – he is an absolute master at his craft.  His style of comedy is a little bit silly, very raucous and just bloody entertaining.

I was lucky enough to secure a review ticket to see his show – check out my Broadway Baby review here.

Jason is hosting the Comedy Gala on 24 April and then performing at the Rangatira at Q from 25 to 27 April – only three days so get in quick!  Click here for more details and to book tickets.

Marcel Lucont - NZICF 20145. Marcel Lucont

Everyone’s favorite Frenchman is back on NZ shores!  Sardonic, deliciously narcissistic and oh-so-dashing, Monsieur Lucont is a must-see.

The last solo show I attended was in 2012 when he was last in Auckland – read my review here.

Marcel will be gracing us with his presence at the Foxglove Ballroom in Wellington from 29 April to 3 May before his Auckland run in Rangatira at Q from 14 to 17 May.  Click here for more details and to book tickets.

James Acaster - NZICF 20146. James Acaster

James fast gained popularity during last year’s festival and all the buzz and rave reviews are true.  His material is sharp, witty and highly entertaining.

Here’s my review and if you need more convincing here is The Laughing Kiwi’s review who only just saw him at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

James will be at The Classic on 25 & 26 April and from 28 April to 5 May (not 4th).  His season sold out in a flash last year so get your tickets early!  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

Urzila Carlson - NZICF 20147. Urzila Carlson

Though she hails from South Africa, NZ has very much claimed her!  Urzila is extremely funny and a top notch comedian with a natural gift of the gab.

Check out what I thought of her show last year here.

Urzila is performing at the Rangatira at Q from 1-3 May and then at the San Francisco Bath House in Wellington from 6 to 10 May.  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

Dan Nightingale - NZICF 20148. Dan Nightingale

Dan’s affable nature and conversational style teamed with his hilarious stories and self-deprecating humor make for a genuinely enjoyable hour of comedy.

Here’s my review of the show he brought to last year’s festival.

Dan is performing at The Basement from 6 to 10 May and then at the Foxglove Ballroom in Wellington from 13 to 17 May.  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

Tom Binns - NZICF 20149. Tom Binns as Ian D. Montfort

For something a little different, Tom’s unique brand of “comedium” comedy is a good option.  He is a talented and adept performer and whether you are a believer or a skeptic, I daresay you will leave impressed.

I went to see him last year and was both thoroughly entertained and amazed – have a read here.

Tom as his alter ego Ian will be at the Foxglove Ballroom in Wellington from 6-10 May and then the Loft at Q from 13 to 17 May.  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

Stephen K Amos - NZICF 201410.  Stephen K Amos

Stephen is an accomplished veteran in the industry and if you haven’t already seen him, you should!  He is extremely good at what he does, garnering laughs effortlessly with his feel-good style of comedy.

Here is my review of last year’s show.

Stephen is at the Rangatira at Q on 25 & 26 April and from 29 April to 3 May before doing one show at The Opera House in Wellington on 4 May.  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

Other Recommendations!

While I have not had the pleasure of seeing him do a solo show I would also totally recommend Stuart Goldsmith.  I saw him at last year’s Comedy All Stars where he was compère and in the brief times he came on stage, he delivered some really good material.  I also got to see him host his critically acclaimed comedy podcast at the Edinburgh Fringe which was excellent – here’s my review.

If you want more bang for your buck, you can’t go wrong with ensemble shows as they are like the ideal comedic tasting platter!  I would definitely recommend the Comedy Gala; it is quite pricey but well worth it and will get you pumped for the coming weeks of laughs.  There is also the 5 Star Comedy Preview, the Comedy All Stars (this year there are two – #1 and #2) and The Big Show (in the CBD and at the BMC).

For something a little different, Le Comique is a fun variety comedy show that is a great option if you have more eclectic taste.  And finally, for that last comedy festival fix, Last Laughs is a fantastic way to end the festival on a high.

So there you go, my fellow Kiwis – my humble recommendations based on what I have gone to see and enjoyed.  Now get booking and get excited for (in my opinion) one of the best few weeks in New Zealand’s live entertainment calendar!

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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 2012 Review: Marcel Lucont in Gallic Symbol

From the moment he so skillfully, without missing a beat and cool as a cucumber, put a heckler in his place at last year’s Comedy Gala, I was converted a Marcel Lucont fan.

Brought to life by the brilliant British comedian Alexis Dubus, Marcel Lucont is a self-proclaimed flâneur, raconteur and bon-viveur.  He brings a rare stand up comedy masterpiece that is uncommonly low-energy but full of sharp wit and dry humor centered around his cynical observations as a proud French misanthropist and expert international lover.  He is an excellent wordsmith and is flawless when it comes to telling a story – impeccably timed and perfectly paced, his egotistical and deadpan but yet alluring delivery will have you hanging on his every word and laughing in all the right (and sometimes wrong!) places.

In his new show, Gallic Symbol, you can expect more exquisite sex poetry (this time of a “breasty” nature), his usual haughty grievances about most things (especially anything British) and so much more.  His opening piece, “50 actual ways to leave your lover” sets the tone of the show perfectly.  Why wouldn’t you choose to catapult yourself in to a sea of naked women as a way to leave your significant other?  Perfectly normal and not over the top at all.  Apart from reading from his “manual of a sex addict”, he also shares hilarious excerpts from the diary of his teenage self.  If there’s anything funnier than Marcel Lucont, it is quite possibly a teenage Marcel Lucont.

My personal favorite bit was his hilarious parody of British humor; his impersonation of a stuffy British man is scarily accurate albeit incredibly stereotypical!  I also really enjoyed the amusing “sex positions 101”-esque class he delivers near the end, complete with corresponding visuals on cue cards.  And of course, the grand finale!  Marcel’s debut rap performance.  Yes, rap.  Prepare to be impressed.  All I can say is – merde oui!

I had the pleasure of meeting Monsieur Lucont after the show and he is an absolute delight!  I also got to see him in action again on the weekend co-hosting Le Comique, a cabaret-style event showcasing alternative comedy.  Suffice it to say, he was in top form then too and this time with a whole bottle of wine in tow!  Unfortunately his solo shows have finished its run in both Auckland and Wellington but you still have a chance to catch him as part of the Comedy Convoy, touring nationwide between 14-26 May (details HERE).

He really is one of those acts that words just cannot do him justice – you really need to be there to experience it yourself.  The show is highly sexual (but never vulgar, though sometimes teetering very near it!) and full of the sardonic musings of a self-righteous, narcissistic Frenchman, but if you can get past that, you will not be disappointed!  His performance is just effortless and will keep you captivated from beginning to end.  He is not overtly funny to the point you find yourself laughing yourself to tears (or maybe you might!) but his instinctive use of combining dry humor, sharp wit and a lot of clever wordplay, all delivered at the opportune time, will no doubt have you laughing and thoroughly entertained.

The Whimsical Banana rates Gallic Symbol: 5/5 bananas (FANTASTIQUE show!)

 

See you next year, Marcel – merci beaucoup for the outstanding show and for the lovely message in your book (and you’re right – it is superb! 😉 )

If you would like to get to know more about Monsieur Lucont, check out his website: www.marcellucont.com.