The first half of the show is reasonably free-flowing, jumping between a series of themes, including Facebook Community Groups, unemployment, and Ansett’s childhood deputy principal. Ansett’s dissonant, “oh he’s getting away with this” energy comes through strongly here, as he mines humour from (ostensibly) real online exchanges, putting people's profile pictures and comments up for display on a large TV Screen. The scenarios are always funny, and whether or not Ansett is the victim, or the perpetrator, he tends to end up acting in a way that steps well outside of social acceptability. A standout section follows him attempting to sell a couch on Facebook Marketplace to a woman named Debby, which is beautifully constructed, and a thrill to watch.
In the second half however, we move into the main event. Publicised online, in 2022 Ansett took part in the Weetbix Kids Try-atholon, going undercover as a fifteen year old. Featuring plenty of video footage (available on Youtube), this section really throws me for a spin. Finding the whole act supremely uncomfortable, I was initially unsure if Ansett wanted me to think that this was charming in its absurdity, and it forces me to interrogate my relationship with him as a performer. Ultimately, he finds plenty of jokes at his own expense, addresses the paedophile shaped elephant in the room, and I find myself relaxing into not being onboard with this. At the end of the section, he describes a phone call with the CEO of Sanitarium, who tells Ansett that he didn’t think the bit was in good taste or very funny. I am beyond shocked to find myself siding with the CEO of a massive company that has maintained tax exemption by being owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Quick aside, in 2019 it was reported that businesses owned by the Church made more than $10 Million in profit. Do with that information what you will.
Wrapping things up, I want to make clear that I don’t think Jack Ansett (the person) is an asshole, even if the character he presents comes across as one. I don’t know Ansett, so he very well could be, but I certainly don’t get that impression. He gives a wonderful plug for other Comedy Fest shows at the end of the hour, and I found a post he made on Reddit offering to help out those who can’t afford tickets to his show. While Are You Taking the Piss? is certainly unfinished, it’s refreshing to watch stand-up with sharp edges that is willing to challenge me as an audience.
The show is still on for the rest of the week, you can find tickets here. https://www.comedyfestival.co.nz/find-a-show/jack-ansett-triathloser/