When was the last time you had an adventure with your best friend? I’m not talking a quick run to the liquor store before it shuts, I’m talking pre-adulthood adventures. I’m talking quests, afternoons spent searching for treasure, or fairies, or supplies for backyard potions. If you want a reason to reminisce on these adventures, you need to run, not walk, to Dakota of the White Flats. Red Leap is back in Pōneke with their award winning, high energy, and very grungy adaptation of Philip Ridley’s best-selling coming of age novel of the same name. Having seen (and reviewed) Owls Do Cry last year, it’s no secret that I adore Red Leap’s work, and this project may be their best yet.
Eli Matthewson has a reputation for slick, tight good quality stand-up. He’s known to work his gear relentlessly when putting together a festival show and Gutterball shows the value in that hard work. It’s a slick, tight very funny show well deserving of its mid-week sellout crowd at San Fran.
Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
SquareSums&Co’s show Just Jolks - Barnie Duncan is part of the Best Foods 2023 International Comedy Festival. Entering BATS’ Stage, the usher gives each of us a chopstick. On stage there is only what has been promised in the marketing: a microphone and a spotlight in the middle of the stage.
“No. 3 Stars”. That’s the review Tim Batt jokes about getting on the opening night of Is Climate Change Funny Yet?. Unfortunately, due to some highly distracting audience chaos and a show which hasn’t quite got its balance right, it’s not far from my experience on opening night.
Hidden away in the basement-esque Cavern Club underneath Allen St, Clarissa Chandrahasen’s debut hour Flawless is the best kept secret of the International Comedy Festival. Entering the venue for opening night, I’m shocked to see an audience of less than a dozen people. It is a Tuesday night of course, but after hearing sensational word of mouth from her set at Loud and Queer on Saturday, and seeing Chandrahasen handing out flyers after other shows earlier in the festival, I expected a better turnout. The small audience has me worried, knowing how hard comedy, or really any performance art, can be without people to feed off. Ten minutes into the show, I’ve laughed any of that worry away. Looking at Chandrahasen’s wry smile, you can tell that she’s shed any nerves as well - if she ever had any to begin with.
It’s Saturday night in week one of the comedy fest and there’s some serious excitement in the air. In the foyer of the St James Theatre, over a thousand punters are here to see one of our own- Melanie Bracewell playing the biggest venue of her solo career (so far) for Forget Me Not. She enters the stage and reveals that she’s pretty excited about it as well. Over the next 60 minutes Bracewell proves to us exactly why she’s here.
For NZICF 2023, two-time winner of NZICF Newcomer of the Year (yes, you read that right) Maria Williams brings us a new iteration of her show Anxiety…the Musical!? where anxiety is amended to ADHD following a decades-late diagnosis. For those not in the know, neurodivergence is often misdiagnosed (and mis-self-diagnosed) as anxiety due to stressors like overstimulation and masking pressure, so this is not a surprising pipeline.
What’s that hovering above the waterfront? Is it a bird, is it a plane, no! It’s Sam Wang and Aileen Huynh’s thrillingly creative comedy SkyDuck, returning home to Te Whanganui-a-Tara after nearly a decade abroad. Initially conceived as a 20 minute Toi Whakaari graduation piece in 2012, the show has since seen seasons in Australia and Tāmaki Makaurau, and now it’s come home to roost at Circa Theatre.
This is the Last Goldfish I am Going to eat for You is a hilarious title and also has nothing to do with show Grace Jarvis presents us. It is however a very entertaining title, and in that respect it fits the show perfectly!
Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
San Fran is dimly lit and abuzz with others as we settle in for Right About Now by renowned NZ comedian James Nokise. Nokise opens his set by addressing the Newtown fire that occurred in the early hours of the morning that same day. Before I came I was curious to see if he would mention it. He comes from Newtown. His Grandfather founded the Pacific Islanders Presbyterian Church in Newtown and Nokise’s father presides there as the minister today. Nokise articulated that he knew some people wouldn’t have the energy to come in for a show after such a tragedy, but he also knew that it's at times like these when some people need jokes the most.
Brynley Stent’s Frigid is a lot of things. Part out-there-sketch-comedy, part stand up, and part emotionally-sincere-storytelling-show, it crams a huge range of disparate ideas and styles into its short hour, including multiple musical numbers. Results vary, as I find myself ping-ponging all over the emotional spectrum in my reactions. Some sections I find hilarious, some completely befuddling, others earnestly moving. I can’t say that the show sings for me as a whole, but it’s never anything but idiosyncratic.
I’m not sure I like Jack Ansett, or rather the stand-up comedy version of himself that he presents. He comes across as abrasive, annoying, and unempathetic. But the thing I love about his special Are You Taking the Piss? is that he’s aware of this, and understands that he doesn’t have to be our best friend for us to find him funny. It takes real confidence to get up on stage, ostensibly as yourself, and show screenshots of you harassing middle-aged-women who’ve lost their pets online. It also takes a level of skill and craft to make that funny, and thankfully Ansett has both.
Former little boy and current 34-year-old step-dad Guy Montgomery is back from his Australian tour to tell us about this crazy world in his hour long special My Brain is Blowing Me Crazy. Having been on Taskmaster, 7 Days, and Have You Been Paying Attention, it’s no surprise that it’s a sold out crowd and Te Auaha’s Tapere Nui space is filling up fast. My friend I’ve brought with me is a huge fan, so naturally their excitement starts to rub off on me as the lights dim.
It’s not often I leave a venue dehydrated from cry-laughing, but oh boy, Lesa MacLeod-Whitings’ ON-BRAND is an exceptionally crafted knee-slapper. It seems inconceivable that this is MacLeod-Whiting’s debut at the New Zealand Comedy Festival, her comedic timing is on point - earning her non-stop laughter for 50 minutes.
by Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
Presented by the 2023 NZ International Comedy Festival with Best Foods Mayo Jo Ghastly - The Cool Mum returns to Pōneke and takes the Te Auaha stage with Ghastly’s famous hour of faux-inspirational speaking. I, personally, am invested in the show as I walk in because I saw it in the Whangārei Fringe Festival 2020 and am excited to see how it’s changed, if at all, over the years that have been.
Local Honest Reviews
At Art Murmurs, our aim is to provide honest and constructive art reviews to the Wellington community.