MC Neil Thornton starts the show to roaring applause. Having just wrapped up a show that night, he is feeling mischievous. Thornton is an incredibly strong MC. With energy that can’t be contained, he warms up the audience in the most successful way I have seen in long time. He practically sneaks in a set (or two) of his own with the number of bits he performs, and it doesn’t feel for a moment like it is dragging the transitions. In fact, Thornton’s content is so good that I would be genuinely sad to lose it. My only criticism for Thornton is that before introducing the final act, he makes it sound as though he is closing off the show, which is a little confusing.
My personal favourite acts of the night are Li’i Alaimoana and Melanie Bracewell. Both with opening roles, Alaimoana gets the show off to an honest but strong start when he says, “I don’t have much time, so there’s gonna be no continuity in this,” then picks up his guitar (which somehow still threads his bits together). The stand-out thing with Alaimoana is his incredible recall, where he brings back a piece of audience interaction from the beginning of his set right at the end, working it into his final punchline. Bracewell opens the second half of the show, talking about how she finds the fun in bad dating situations, by filing a missing person’s report when she gets ghosted, and gradually building up her own city-wide wifi network by asking for the password each time she has a hook up.
It was awesome to see such a large amount of LGBTQ+ content in this show, because representation never goes amiss. However, with only Melanie Bracewell and Jadwiga Green, the female representation in this show felt a little low, which was disappointing, but that might just be a reflection on the male majority in NZICF this year.
All of these acts have their own shows on this week, so make sure to go and see. Best of the Fest is on weekly at San Fran, until Thursday 23 May. To book tickets, or for more information on other shows in NZ International Comedy Fest, visit the NZICF website.