The following contains some spoilers, and If you’re unlike me and only find jokes funny once, you’ve been warned. Matthewson enters to a pre-recorded comedy fest announcement providing my only real critique of the night. The occasional sound bite is too loud, and not a ‘not-worth mentioning-loud’; it was so loud I felt the bass in my organs. Even so, we steam ahead with Matthewson driving the ship like your favourite Uncle at a family reunion.
We are granted three wishes, my friend gives the first two, “no work and a house”. Matthewson is clever with his quips, he bounces between each audience member and bands us together as unlikely friends. The jabs with the audience walk cleverly on the line of insulting and affirming, and no matter the callout/heckle, Matthewson works it in so everyone seems funny. This is my main prop to Matthewson, he really knows how to read a room. Sometimes a comedian acknowledging a failed joke just drives the loss home, but Matthewson turns a failed punchline into a punchline. And that’s because we feel safe with him, I don’t see his face falter once, I’m confident he’ll swing it back around if things go south.
There are some killer jokes and well-crafted observational comedy about the difference between mid-life crises in women vs. men. My favorite pre-written joke of the night tears apart white christian music, and I am tempted to quote it directly but it needs to be experienced live. My top gags, however, happen in the room. Matthewson acknowledges how uniquely reactive the audience is, he jests about the possibility of us all lobbying together prior to the show to mess with him. He goes on to comment about the disconcerting effect of the regular yet ill-timed solo ‘whoop’ the audience seems to be relaying between one another. Aha! A game! And a clever one. Yes, it's an ‘us vs. them’ gag, but Matthewson is still the driver. He adds to the stakes by mentioning a comedy term (I am ashamed to admit I’ve forgotten it), that describes a joke losing its efficacy through repetition - but this audience is the exception, we can’t get enough of this ‘whoop’ gag and it’s just getting funnier. I know in my heart we probably aren’t a unique audience and Matthewson just knows how to play the game, but it does succeed in making us feel special. And that to me is the mark of a good comedian, the one who makes us feel like the “it” crowd.
There is also an improvised chair gag - now I say improvised because I am befuddled as to whether it was planned or not. Someone please go see the show and put my questions to rest. Matthewson sits down on a chair after a skipping gag and it collapses. It’s so realistic, I am utterly convinced it isn’t a gag. If it was planned, props to Matthewson for unadulterated commitment.
I can see why Matthewson has risen through the ranks of the NZ comedy sphere, Summer Gorgeous is a fun, somewhat unhinged night of comedy, and I’m sounding like a broken record here, but go see it! Summer Gorgeous is on for three more nights at San Fran, get tickets from the Comedy Festival website.