Two of Christie’s strengths are charisma and energy. She makes you smile as soon as she walks onstage, and she banters effortlessly with the audience. The show I saw featured the cutest audience interaction I’ve seen all Comedy Fest, with Christie’s mum making sure she noticed her cousins were sitting in the back.
From the show’s marketing, I was expecting a more coherent storyline throughout her set. The tagline is, ‘In her life as a gifted student, Tui Lou Christie has been to approximately 436 history lessons and exactly 0 self-help seminars.’ I was excited for this theme, ready for jokes about the expectations or pressures of growing up gifted, or our failing education system. Most of all, as a fan of Christie’s work, I was keen to see her challenge herself to work within a narrative.
Instead, Christie jokes that another name for her show could have been ‘Every Joke I Have’, and acknowledged there was going to be some repeated material. There are still enough fresh jokes to keep the loyal fans entertained, but I was disappointed to hear quite a few jokes I had heard from her performances in ensemble shows.
However, Christie does play a lot with comic form in Gifted. She performs comedic monologues in character, reads to us from an adult colouring book, and invites an audience member up onstage to perform a skit. The colouring book is a particular highlight. Christie has created her own illustrations based on the struggles of adult life, such as shower mould, repressed homosexuality, overpriced coffee that we drink to get through our soul crushing jobs. This was such a unique twist on Christie’s ‘adult life sucks’ shtick and very entertaining.Christie has the charisma and creativity to pull off any type of set and I’d love to see her do more new material and mix up her style.
Opener, Sowmya Hiremath warms up the audience with jokes about her experiences dating and looking for housing in Wellington. Hiremath has great energy and sets the tone for the rest of the show. She could enunciate and emphasise her punchlines with more vigour to make sure the audience hears every word, as she is very funny.
Tui Christie’s Gifted is such a fun show, and a truly fantastic debut. Christie has the audience in hysterics throughout. My boyfriend, who traditionally is unimpressed by the shows I take him to, described Christie as ‘funny as fuck’: an unprecedented endorsement. If you’ve never seen Christie perform, and you want to check out the up-and-coming talent in Wellington, get yourself to her show.
Gifted is playing at Bats Theatre until Saturday 25th of May. You can find tickets here.