by Laura Ferguson
Zimmerman’s show has the feel of catching up with a friend after they’ve been on a trip. He has this one big story to tell from his travels, but there are also side-tracks, tangents, ribbing each other, and bouts of laughter. Zimmerman excels at creating this genial air, even using a visual prop for his first anecdote. As a result, the laughs come easily and the jokes flowing from one to the other, just like a real conversation.
The titular All I Wanted Was Some Chicken tale weaves in and out of the other stories, snippets of it popping up here and there. This is done very cleverly with call-backs to previous jokes that grow doubled, and sometimes even trebled meanings. This builds the jokes even more that become not only merely funny, but gain a concise wit, a rarer art form in the comedy scene. Such layering creates a depth to Zimmerman’s performance that goes beyond easy laughs.
Social commentary runs through his jokes, inspiring a self-reflection of shared experience. Zimmerman’s jokes focus on making himself the punchline which come with interesting observations on the societal mores he explores. It would be easy for a show this personal to feel self-pitying, as Zimmerman touches on the struggles of dating, parenting, performing and unfortunate newspaper picture placements. Instead, he relishes that we are laughing at him, and that we are in on the joke together.
Zimmerman’s facial expressions and improvised verbal embellishments to the audience enhance this. He picks up on our reactions to his stories and comments on them, tailoring his performance to this audience. When an audience member clapped at one line, he tells them, “Aw, don’t clap that!” Later, after a very clever stroke of punny gestures, Zimmerman turns to the same gentleman and bashfully declares, “Now, you can clap that one.”
Coming up to the final reveal of All I Wanted Was Some Chicken, Zimmerman makes a side-note that he needs to use an offensive word in his story. I really appreciated the time he took to say that this word is not being used as the joke, but is needed, often and repeatedly, because of what happened. Diving, then, into the titular anecdote, he combines everything that the show has offered us so far into one big amalgamation of them: his self-deprecating style, puns, social commentary, and call-backs have the audience gasping with laughter. Zimmerman not only executes successfully a combination of everything he has given us so far, but he one-ups himself! His final flourish and repeated line “and all I wanted was some chicken,” is met with enthusiastic deserved applause.
Brad Zimmerman’s All I Wanted Was Some Chicken is a show just as the title describes, it’s meaty, full of flavour and comforting. It runs from Thursday 16th – Saturday 18th February at 8:30pm at S&M’s Cocktail & Lounge Bar. Tickets are available at www.fringe.co.nz