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: Tom Gleeson

Tom Gleeson

It”s hard to believe that this is Tom Gleeson’s debut at the festival as he has been a familiar face on our televisions from his regular appearances on TV3’s 7Days.  After the hour, he proves that he can completely hold his own and is an excellent comedian in his own right.

Being an Australian comic, it is not surprising at all when he starts poking fun at New Zealand.  Calling us a self-deprecating and simultaneously progressive yet backward nation, he subsequently justifies this by saying that unlike other comics, he doesn’t do New Zealand jokes back home but saves them up so he can do it to our faces.

It is in this audacious and brash fashion that Tom delivers his hour-long set to us and boy does he do it so very well!  His material ranges from both reminiscing and griping about technology (“iCloud backs up your shame” – genius) to hilarious examples of how fatherhood has caused him to see things, like strippers, in a different light.

Each gag and every joke is brilliantly set up and superbly told with some truly remarkable punchlines that will alter your perspective on the most ordinary things – like bread rolls and why you should never pick a mirror up from the floor.  He tells us he is a rule-breaker in real life and this rings true in his stand up routine as well.

Tom himself said it best – he is an acquired taste.  But his crass, in-your-face style of comedy is genuinely funny and wildly entertaining.  A top notch hour of stand up that I would definitely recommend.

The Whimsical Banana rates Tom Gleeson: 4/5 bananas!

Tom Gleeson is performing at The Classic for 3 more nights – for tickets, click here.

NZICF 2013: Tom Rhodes

Tom Rhodes

It’s Tom Rhodes’ first time in New Zealand and I do hope it won’t be the last.  His style of comedy is brash and irreverent but certainly a breath of fresh air especially if, like me, British comedy is more your go-to for stand up.

Tom’s delivery initially seems haphazard but don’t let his erratic train of thought fool you – his set does flow together seamlessly and every story told is well prepared and masterfully set up with punchlines that are nothing short of comedic genius.  Being one of the most well traveled comedians on the circuit, his show is made up of diverse tales that span the globe from Europe to South East Asia.

His material displays a unique, tongue-in-cheek point of view of many things like what he would do to mess up the war (“sometimes bombs, sometimes confetti”), the origins of racism (too much sun) and who he wanted the next Pope to be (“Pope-rah”).  When some stories don’t quite hit the mark, Tom is quick to recover by claiming some of his stuff is prepared as “individually wrapped jokes”, tailored to only appeal to one person at a time – which quickly bring back the laughs.

While his humor is undeniably a little boisterous and sometimes teeters on the inappropriate side, there is genuine and brilliant comedy in the stories he tells.  He easily keeps you entertained for the hour and by the end of it you honestly feel like you have gone around the world – albeit a twisted, slightly more crude version of the world – with him.

Tom Rhodes is not afraid to ride the controversial train so his brand of comedy may not be everyone’s cup of tea.  But if you do not offend easy, I highly recommend this accomplished seasoned pro for a guaranteed raucous night of comedy!

The Whimsical Banana rates Tom Rhodes: 4/5 bananas!

Tom Rhodes is performing for another week (May 6th – 11th) at The Classic – for tickets, click here.

NZICF 2013: Chris Martin – Spot The Difference

Chris Martin - Spot the Difference

If you’ve ever wondered how you win at yoga or if you think pugs are not real dogs, Chris Martin’s original brand of dry and witty observational comedy is sure to hit the spot.  Returning to New Zealand after his debut in 2012, Chris is back on our shores with a brand new show.

Throughout the hour, Chris shares with us a whirlwind of anecdotes which mostly center around his anxieties (like finding mangoes intimidating) and slightly morbid obsessions, like how he would react if he ever got attacked and also how he’d like to die.  He is an accomplished comedian whose material is intelligently written, captivating and dripping with cynicism yet you will leave feeling anything but jaded.

I was most impressed by his confidence and effortless command of both the stage and the crowd.  Even a confused whispering audience member whose phone subsequently rang didn’t faze him – he took it in his stride and handled it brilliantly, as if it was all part of the set.  He has a natural charm and friendly disposition which is evident through his regular interactions and banter with the audience.

His ability to inject humor into just about anything is what makes this such an excellent and enjoyable show.  He tends to dip in and out of stories and go off on tangents – I wondered if we would ever find out what the deal was with that teapot! – but he does so masterfully; all the time holding our attention with ease, keeping us hooked and wanting more.

Spot The Difference is loads of fun, endlessly entertaining and genuinely very funny.  Chris is definitely one to watch as he is undoubtedly one of the rising stars in the comedy circuit.  I already cannot wait for his next show!

The Whimsical Banana rates Spot The Difference: 5/5 bananas!                                                                                                                                            

Chris Martin is performing at The Classic until Saturday May 4th (click here for tickets) before heading to Wellington where he will be performing at The San Francisco Bathhouse from May 7th (click here for tickets).  He is also part of this year’s Comedy Convoy which kicks off May 13th.