I was excited, but admittedly a bit apprehensive to go and see Matafeo on stage. As a Funny Girls fan girl from way back, all I was hoping was that the show itself would live up to the reputation of her glossy and familiar face on the poster. Unsurprisingly, and to my utter relief, Matafeo, live, unedited and in the flesh, is still just as bright and downright hilarious as she is onscreen.
One of the many things that makes Sassy Best Friend shine is its variety. The subjects Matafeo riffs on span everything from hip-hop misogyny to wellness culture, from race to contraception. The wide range of social commentary means there’s something for everyone - an excellent choice considering the diversity in the audience. I took great comfort in laughing along with two elderly ladies seated in front of me, who were in fits of giggles throughout.
Matafeo structures the show in a way that makes it almost impossible to lose interest or focus. Just as the audience starts to tire of a story or train of thought, Matafeo launches into something different - an impression or a musical sketch or a call-back to one of the many romantic-comedy related gags that serve as the thematic backbone of the whole show. The energy peaks higher and higher throughout, and finishes at its highest - not an easy feat in the slightest for an hour-long solo show.
However, the show is not without a few minor technical issues. Sassy Best Friend is hosted at the Wellington Rowing Club, and despite being custom created into a comedy venue specifically for the NZ International Comedy Festival, the space is underwhelming. The foyer gives the impression of pomp and promise with bright signage, superfluous greeting staffand free beer and pizza for VIPs, the performance space itself is another matter. Even though our seats are less than half-way back, we’ll only ever be able to see the performer from the waist down on the tiny stage. Matafeo’s high energy and physicality easily overwhelm the little space, and I wonder if she might have thrived even more so in another venue.
Similarly, as the show started, I initially struggled to enjoy it due to the combination of Matafeo’s frantic, excited intonation paired with a tinny and excessively loud microphone made the aural experience initially very grating. But soon, either through acclimatisation or remedy, this issue subsided for me and I quickly lost myself in the content.
Nevertheless, I left Sassy Best Friend as the rest of the audience did: giggling and elated. Matafeo strikes balance throughout the show - her material is unmistakably feminist but never preachy. Her style is affably awkward, but still polished. Her stories are outrageous but still relatable. Matafeo certainly lives up to the hype and I can’t wait to see what she does next.