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!

Advertisements

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!

NZICF 2013: Idiots of Ants – Model Citizens

Idiots Of Ants

If you’re looking to venture beyond the regular stand up routines and experience some alternative comedy at this year’s festival, I have three words for you: Idiots of Ants.  Their show is a riotous and action-packed hour of fast-paced sketch comedy and the best part is we get to be a part of the fun too!

Model Citizens is a mad barrage of hilarious short stories presented by Andrew Spiers, Elliott Tiney, Benjamin Wilson and James Wrighton, who are the talented foursome that make up Idiots of Ants.  As soon as the show kicks off the Fourth Wall is torn down with the first short story – a prospective flatmate who loves the place except for the fact that the flat comes with an audience.

The rest of the show carries on in this comedic vein.  Each skit is excellently written, masterfully crafted and superbly performed.  There are musical magazines, conversations at gunpoint and a casual game of toss-the-baby – and of course an expected encore of the comical “hens night gone wrong” skit which they performed at the Comedy Gala.  The boys are skilled performers and have great command of the stage, transitioning between each skit quickly and seamlessly.

There is no one stand-out sketch as they are all brilliant in their own right but a fully grown man dressed as a baby and swearing like a sailor truly is quite a sight to behold!  The very funny “the man who took the audience to dinner” pseudo-love song was another favorite of mine.  Yes, they can sing too!

It’s no surprise these boys won the NZICF Best International Show Award last year as they are, put simply, a class act.  Model Citizens is a definite must see – it’s extremely clever, wildly entertaining and just so much fun!  An outstanding hour of improv that is best experienced live.

The Whimsical Banana rates Model Citizens: 5/5 bananas!

Just 3 chances left to catch this fantastic sketch group in action at the fabulous Rangatira at Q so don’t miss out – get in quick!  Click here for tickets.

NZICF 2013: Stephen K Amos – The Spokesman

Stephen K Amos

If you are in to stand up comedy, Stephen K Amos needs no introduction.  He is a household name in the comedic circuit and there is a reason for it – he is bloody good at what he does!

Stephen is back with a new show this year – The Spokesman – which comes from not only a passing comment that he would make a good spokesperson but more interestingly it also happens to be an anagram of his name.   He doesn’t make too much reference to this however; instead he focuses more on heroes and role models and this is a recurring theme which gets interspersed throughout the show amidst his usual style of sharing his observations and personal experiences.

Throughout the hour, we learn about the time he met the Queen, his fear of water and why he believes Jesus is a comedian – to name a few.  Most of the stories were actually ones he had shared in his previous show and though they were just as funny to hear again, I do wish we got to hear more new material!

He also spends a fair bit of time poking fun at our neighbors across the ditch which naturally sat very well with a Kiwi audience.  Comedians are generally really good at mimicking accents but I’ve always marveled at how particularly adept Stephen is at them, particularly the Australian accent.

Stephen’s greatest strength is his innate ability to establish a wonderful rapport with his audience which he uses to his full advantage and incorporates seamlessly into his set.  The show soon becomes much like an open forum with Stephen asking questions, conducting experiments and welcoming feedback from the crowd.  You don’t often find an audience at a comedy gig so willing to be “picked on” but in this show it felt like people were competing to be heard – at one point even audience members started heckling other audience members!

Stephen K Amos truly is a well seasoned veteran and an absolute master at his craft.  The Spokesman has the same “feel good” quality that is very signature Stephen K Amos and is off-the-cuff comedy at it’s very best.

The Whimsical Banana rates The Spokesman: 4/5 bananas!

Stephen K Amos is performing at the Rangatira at Q until Saturday May 4th.  For tickets, click here.  He will then perform just the ONE show at The Opera House in Wellington on May 5th – click here for tickets.

Little Shop of Horrors: “Unusual Story, Fascinating Plant”

This is probably a strange choice for a family favorite but that was what the 1986 Little Shop of Horrors film was for me growing up.  Needless to say I was extremely excited when I found out that Auckland Theatre Company were bringing this comedy horror musical to the stage.  I have been looking forward to this production for months and I am thrilled to say that it did not disappoint!

Based on the original 1960 film by Roger Corman and inspired by the 1982 Off-Broadway production, this Auckland interpretation directed superbly by Simon Coleman, brings to life everything I remembered enjoying about this quirky musical and more.  The story is set in 1960s Skid Row and begins in the failing Mushnik’s Flower Shop.  Seymour is the clumsy, geeky florist assistant who becomes an “experimental botanist” overnight when he discovers a strange-looking plant after an unexpected eclipse of the sun.

Business begins to boom as this mysterious plant becomes a popular local attraction while Audrey, the co-worker he is secretly in love with, is starting to take interest in him. There’s only one problem – the plant, aptly named Audrey II, has an insatiable appetite for human flesh and blood.  As the story unfolds, we see Seymour battle with his conscience and faced with a moral dilemma.  He has his dream life and love but can he live with himself knowing it came at the price of catering to the plant’s carnivorous needs?

What I was most curious about was how the plant was going to transfer from what I have seen on screen to the stage.  Apart from looking slightly obscene, I felt the creative team did an excellent job at bringing the titular plant to the stage.  Kyle Chuen, the man behind the plant and Rima Te Wiata, the voice of the plant, worked together harmoniously to breathe life and personality to this demanding and menacing creature.

Audrey II aside, the other characters are realized by a talented ensemble of performers with impressive vocal chops.  Tim Carlsen was definitely the perfect choice to play Seymour; I thought he embodied everything about the character brilliantly and vocally he was flawless.  Similarly Colleen Davis was fantastic as the sweet but naive Audrey and Paul Barrett was excellent as the cranky, money-minded Mr. Mushnik.

I also really enjoyed Andrew Grainger’s portrayal of Orin Scrivello, Audrey’s sadistic dentist boyfriend and Seymour’s nemesis; he brought great comedy to an otherwise dark and unlikeable character.  Rounding up the cast is the fabulous trio behind Crystal, Ronnette and Chiffon, the resident street urchins who comment (mostly through song) on actions that take place throughout the story.  I thought they brought great sass and attitude to the stage, enhanced all the more by their many striking costume changes!

The set is stylistically quite simple and there is minimal use of props.  What really made the stage more dynamic and visually exciting was the perfect mix of creative lighting design (including a laser light show), well-timed theatrical smoke and fog, and clever use of visual projections.  The projections were used to not only indicate changes in location and time, but also to mirror street art and graffiti to give Skid Row an edgier, more dangerous feel to it.

Being a musical, naturally the music is an integral part of the story.  Led by musical director Jason Te Mete, the songs are performed impeccably by a four-piece band tucked away backstage.  These numbers are a fantastic collaboration of Howard Ashman’s wonderful lyrics and Alan Menken’s gift of music and are inspired by 60s doo-wop with a dash of Motown and rock and roll.  The melodies are distinct and catchy and you can expect to have any or all of the more well-loved tunes – Somewhere That’s Green, Downtown, Suddenly Seymour and Feed Me – resonate in your head for days after.

Little Shop of Horrors is a slick and colorful production that is visually and vocally stunning, delightfully hilarious and a whole lot of fun.  It succeeds in being both an utterly ridiculous farce and a deliciously hysterical and entertaining musical at the same time.  I don’t necessarily agree that it is best suited to children 12 years plus, but it can certainly be a fun experience for the whole family and it is a definite must-see for all musical lovers.

The Whimsical Banana rates Little Shop of Horrors: 5/5 bananas!

Little Shop of Horrors is playing at the fabulous Rangatira at Q until 2nd December.  For show details and to book tickets, click here.

Full synopsis and cast information can be found here.

This review is also featured on Keeping up with NZ.

This review also appears on the Q website.

Private Lives: The Original Rom-Com

We have all at some point known of couples who are stuck in the vicious cycle of break up – get back together – break up – get back together.  Rinse and repeat.  What is it that makes them keep going back for more even though they are clearly not right for each other?

Written in 1929 by the late Noël Coward, Private Lives explores this particular brand of temperamental, mismatched love.  Elyot and Amanda are happily divorced and five years on they are now honeymooning with their new spouses.  Little do they know that as rotten luck would have it, both couples happen to be doing so in the same hotel right next to each other.  Awkward.

I really enjoyed the first act.  It sets up not only the tone of the play perfectly but through Sibyl and Victor’s incessant questioning, we also learn of Elyot and Amanda’s volatile relationship filled with narcissistic egos and constant bickering which ultimately ended due to alleged infidelity.  A lit line in the middle of the stage marks the two balconies of their adjoining hotel suites and the scene goes back and forth between the couples seamlessly, with their conversation bouncing off each other in an uncanny mirrored symmetry.

Against the stark white backdrop, music forms the heartbeat of the play and the friendly banter between the two new lovers takes a turn when Lou Reed’s dreamy and melancholic Perfect Day starts playing.  When Elyot and Amanda finally set eyes on each other, all hell breaks loose and what unfolds is nothing short of chaotic comedic mayhem.  Although Elyot has an overwhelming “sensation of impending disaster”, this is ignored completely for the irresistible pull they have towards each other and subsequently they run off together, abandoning Sybil and Victor.

Act two sees the couple “living in sin” in Sydney.  Unsurprisingly the reasons as to why they eventually divorced in the first place begin to rear its ugly head again.  Their use of the code word “sollocks” to impose a time out seems to put them at bay for a while but they soon realize that the undeniable chemistry they share which brings them together is also the thing that makes them completely unsuitable for each other.

As the story unfolds, their love-hate relationship unravels; their quarrels increasingly intensify and eventually it all culminates to an explosive crescendo.  This could be seen as repetitive but the ever-present comedy which is sharp, witty and dripping with linguistic irony keeps things fresh and entertaining.

It’s hard to believe Private Lives was penned over eighty years ago as, tweaks aside, it still manages to feel modern and as relevant as though it were written yesterday.  It has been revived many times over the years but with this production in particular, what really brings this play to life are the actors.

Matt Whelan was the star of the show for me.  He plays the superficial and caddish Elyot to perfection, providing a great comedic physicality to the character and delivering a plethora of excellently written and brilliantly timed one-liners with great ease.  Mia Blake’s stage presence is electric and perfectly complements Whelan’s performance as the sexy and sophisticated Amanda.

Fresh off The Pride*, Silo’s previous production, Sam Snedden is a natural fit for Victor, the sensible moral compass of the group and antithesis to Elyot.  He once again showcases his remarkable ability to fully embody any character that he is given.  Finally there’s Sophie Henderson who portrays the young and naïve Sibyl wonderfully, giving Whelan a run for his money delivering some great comedic moments too.

Shane Bosher, who previously directed TRIBES**, triumphs again as director in this production.  He is clearly an actor’s director for he has succeeded in bringing out the best performances in these actors making it an absolute delight to watch.

Private Lives is an exceptionally written story that transcends time and is romantic comedy at its best.  It will have you hooked from start to finish and leave you wanting more.

The Whimsical Banana rates Private Lives: 4/5 bananas!

Sexy, risqué, ridiculously fun and absolutely hysterical – Silo Theatre have done it again!

Private Lives is playing at the fabulous Rangatira at Q until 29 September.  To book tickets, click here.

*Read my review of The Pride here.

**Read my review of TRIBES here.

Review: Krishnan’s Dairy

I left Guru of Chai completely blown away and utterly amazed at how one man effortlessly brought seventeen different characters to life while another creatively used sound to evoke our imagination and transport us to a different place.  This week I was thrilled to be back in the Rangatira at Q to experience another dose of Indian Ink theatrical magic.

Krishnan’s Dairy may be fifteen years old but it sure doesn’t feel like it.  The narrative is still as refreshing and contemporary as if it was written yesterday.  Weaving together copious amounts of comedy, two love stories and a touch of folklore, Krishnan’s Dairy is a heartwarming and endearing slice-of-life tale that is both entertaining and moving.

Gobi and Zina Krishnan are immigrants from India who have moved to New Zealand with their newborn child in the hopes for a better life and future.  They own a little corner store dairy and like a fly on the wall, we watch this couple as they go about their everyday business.

I thought Gobi and Zina were quite the comical pair; you can’t help but laugh at the charming shopkeeper and be amused at his wife’s antics.  I especially enjoyed Gobi’s interactions with the customers and Zina’s hilarious reenactment of a story involving Ganesh, the elephant deity.

Jacob Rajan’s masterful storytelling and superb showmanship along with David Ward’s exceptional guitar playing and accompanying sound effects draw you in to this immigrant family’s world immediately.  Once again Jacob plays many faces and this time he does so quite literally, seamlessly switching between characters through the swift changing of masks.  He does this so skilfully that the transition is smooth and not at all distracting.

What I found most impressive was how he convincingly pulled off conversations between Gobi and Zina.  The rapid back and forth mask-swapping, different voices and changes in body language were all executed so perfectly that it’s truly mind-boggling that there is actually only one actor on stage.

Unlike Guru of Chai, the set is minimal and sound genius David works his magic mostly hidden from sight.  A standout for me was the clever incorporation of mime into the story.  Jacob mimes perfectly in sync with David’s impeccably timed sound effects – it’s really quite impressive to see.

I also really liked the way in which the backstage was used as part of the set too – I thought it was a nice little nod to those old school stores that are run by families who usually lived either behind or above the store.  Using both light and shadow or even just simply moving from one end of the stage to the other, it created another theatrical element to the story.

Krishnan’s Dairy is a beautiful and brilliant masterpiece by the Indian Ink Theatre Company and considering it’s longevity, is already proving to be a timeless classic.  If you haven’t already seen it, put simply: you need to.

The Whimsical Banana rates Krishnan’s Dairy: 4/5 bananas!

Tickets are going like hot cakes so make sure you get in quick!  The season at Q concludes on August 4th.  For more information and to book tickets, click HERE.

Review: Guru of Chai

My week was made that bit more extraordinary when I was treated to a trip to India.  The amazing thing about this statement is I never actually physically went but such is the magic that I experienced at the opening night of Guru of Chai.

After getting over the fact that the Rangatira at Q had magically transformed itself AGAIN, I got settled into my seat and was fully expecting to immerse myself in a very good play.  What I experienced was so much more than that. From the minute Jacob Rajan and his right hand man, David Ward took the stage I was completely enthralled and entertained.

Guru of Chai is an engaging and compelling tale about a humble chaiwallah and how seven abandoned sisters appearing at his chai stand proceeded to change his life forever. Delivered in the first person, the charming and jovial tea seller welcomes us into his world, inviting us to embark on the journey with him.

The play involves a rich tapestry of creative storytelling, colorful sound, a little bit of magic, clever shadow play and even a spot of puppetry.  Whether intentional or not, it certainly challenges the boundaries and any preconceived notions you may have had on what defines a stage production.

The most impressive thing about this play is Jacob’s outstanding performance.  What I didn’t know going in was that this play was essentially a cast of one.  Apart from playing the titular character, Jacob also effortlessly embodies every single other character that appears in the story.

The way in which he skillfully transitions between the different personas just blew my mind.  Every character is fully realized with their own individual personality, distinct voice, set of mannerisms, and even differing postures.  This “skillful schizophrenia” is truly a work of art – Jacob is undeniably an extremely talented and gifted character actor with great stage presence.

Between Jacob’s charismatic showmanship, array of props at his disposal and the colorful set, the play is definitely visually mesmerizing.  However I must stress that the production is just as impressive to hear as it is to see.

Employing an eclectic blend of banjo-playing (tuned to sound like a sitar), haunting songs and innovative sound effects (from an electronic drum machine to a simple plastic bag), David is the ultimate human prop.  His musical accompaniment complements the narrative perfectly – be it helping to affect tone or to increase tension – elevating and giving the production another texture to the story.

Superb theatrics and spectacle aside, the hero of this play is the story itself.  The script is incredibly dynamic and the multi-layered narrative is superbly written, weaving together a good dose of  humor, elements of culture and just the right amount of drama and action.  To me, a good story is one that entertains, speaks to the heart and resonates and this could not ring truer with Guru of Chai.  The story is unpretentious and honest and just keeps you wanting more.

I cannot recommend Guru of Chai enough.  It is a theatrical masterpiece that is heartwarming, captivating and surprisingly insightful. It is a story about a single man, but it is also a story about life, love and loss.  This is truly a unique experience that everyone should not miss out on!

Thank you, Indian Ink, for this absolutely phenomenal piece of theatre that I will not soon forget – I can’t wait to see Krishnan’s Dairy next!

The Whimsical Banana rates Guru of Chai: 5/5 bananas!

Guru of Chai is playing at my favorite performing arts space, the stunning Q Theatre, until July 21st.  For more information and to book tickets, click HERE.

This review is also featured on the Q Theatre website.

Comedy Fest 2012 Review: The Boy with Tape on his Face in More Tape

 

I first saw The Boy with Tape on his Face as part of a ten-act show at The Classic seven years ago and ever since then he has been a favorite of mine.  I even got picked by The Boy to help out on stage which was slightly terrifying at first but then turned out to be a really cool experience and something I will always look fondly back on!

I must mention that I only recently found out that that was actually his first stage show which meant I was his first ever volunteer – how special am I?!  But I digress…

These days The Boy is more than capable of holding his own and is perfectly happy having the stage all to himself along with his trusty satchel of tricks, box of props and of course, the all important tape.  I was privileged enough to be invited by The Boy to attend his opening night of the Auckland season and WOW, what an incredible show!  So much fun, so many laughs and an epic soundtrack to go with it all!

His new show, More Tape, is full of toys, props and is a mad and whimsical mix of vaudeville, mime and even puppetry.  What I especially enjoyed was the incorporation of the music to the set and how it provided an additional element of comedy to the performance.  Another integral part of the show is The Boy enlisting help from various handpicked members of the audience – you are even forewarned from the get go that participation is compulsory…unless you want to look like a cock!

Sam Wills, the man behind The Boy is truly a world class act with numerous awards under his belt (more likely in his satchel!).  He is also the first New Zealand comedian to be a part of the Royal Variety Performance in the UK.  He will soon be preparing to perform a month-long season at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the biggest arts festival in the world.  Accolades and achievements aside, he also happens to be a very lovely person!

I think the thing that makes The Boy so special is that he has truly defied the conventions of stand up comedy.  He is a stand up comedian that doesn’t speak and yet his antics will have you laughing from start to finish.  His entire performance is well thought out with a good story arc of mostly standalone little tricks and bits but that all flow together seamlessly.  The show is perfectly paced and well-timed which is impressive considering a lot of it is improvised and dependent in part on the volunteer’s cooperation (or lack of).  He has outstanding showmanship and great comedic intuition that will have you enthralled and amazed.

I don’t want to give too much away as the magic of his show is in the anticipation of the unknown and watching it all slowly unravel.  All I will say is his show is brilliant, hysterical, incredibly entertaining and the best silent comedy you will ever see.  This is a show like no other and one you do not want to miss!

The Whimsical Banana rates More Tape: 6/5 Tape-tastic bananas (an extra banana for good measure!)

The Boy is performing at the beautiful Rangatira at Q all of this week with an extra show before his final one on Saturday night – tickets are selling fast so get your tickets NOW (HERE) or regret forever!

The Boy and I in 2005

The Boy and I seven years later 🙂

Sam, thanks so much for the hook up and it was so awesome meeting you after the show too – it’s crazy that it has been seven years!  See you again on closing night!

To find out more about The Boy, visit his website.

Comedy Fest 2012 Review: Chris Cox in Fatal Distraction

As I made my way to my front row seat in the beautiful Rangatira at Q (my second home this past week!), I was feeling both nervous and excited.  Nervous because sitting in the front row at a comedy show is never a good thing and excited because I genuinely could not wait to experience what all the great reviews have been going on and on about.  I had missed out on Chris Cox’s first visit to our shores back in 2010 and so did not really know what to expect.

First week of the Comedy Festival was a busy one for me; I was attending shows pretty much every night of the week!  All I can say is I am so relieved and chuffed that I managed to catch Chris Cox on his last show here in Auckland because, even though I still have a few more shows to see, I am already quite certain he is (going to be) my favorite of the festival this year!  Don’t get me wrong, everyone else I’ve seen so far have all been really excellent but I really enjoyed Chris’ show simply because it was just something completely different and not at all what you’d expect during a comedy festival.  He is not your typical stand up comedian but his show is just as entertaining (if not more) and will leave you not only bloody impressed but gagging for more.

So who is Chris Cox then and what is his show all about?  I guess you can call him a magician although he’s not the kind who pulls rabbits out of hats.  That being said there are rabbits on stage!  He insists he is a mind reader who cannot read minds, that everything is about coincidence, using psychology and observing body language.  My opinion?  He has to be a wizard (I vote former Hogwarts student!) because there was some pretty skillful mind reading going on on that stage!  The first and most obvious conclusion many will come up with to explain how he managed to do what he did is to say the show is rigged, but the ferret-in-the-sweater blows that theory well out of the water.  It’s been a few days now and my mind is STILL whirring.  It’s…like…magic!

Miraculously replicating drawings and magical laser lipsticks aside, I think the magic is really Chris himself.  His natural charm, “devilish good looks” and ability to just tell a good story will have you hanging on to his every word and move from the word go.  His show involves a lot of audience participation but the way he interacts with the crowd makes you feel just so comfortable – I can honestly say this was the first time I felt totally at ease being sat in the front row of a comedy gig.

It’s really one of those shows that you have to “see to believe” so all I will say is this: if Chris Cox is in your town, do yourself a favor and get a ticket – you will not regret it!  Wellington – he has 3 more shows at the Whitireia Performance Centre, so make sure you don’t miss out – get your tickets now (HERE) and prepare to have your mind fully blown…and read 😉  Your jaw WILL drop and by the end of the show you will leave absolutely flabbergasted.

The Whimsical Banana rates Fatal Distraction: 5/5 magical bananas!

Chris, thank you for the incredible experience – what an AMAZING and entertaining show, one I will not soon forget!  My only complaint is it should have been two hours long!  It was such an absolute pleasure meeting you after too 🙂  I hope you return next year, and this time I’ll happily sit in the front row wearing my I ❤ Cox badge with pride!  Hope you had a fantastic time back in New Zealand, even though you were ill!

 

To get more Cox ( 😛 ) check out his website www.magiccox.com

P.S. – Shout out and big thank you to the teams at the Comedy Festival and Q Theatre – you all rock!