WAS THERE AN INITIAL HYPOTHESIS?
TERRY FRISBY IN THE GREAT FRISBY COMEDY EXPERIMENT
at The Basement, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland
From 28 Apr 2012 to 5 May 2012
Reviewed by Nik Smythe, 29 Apr 2012
Another late-night assortment of standup protagonists, with an original twist: rather than offering a taste of their material and plugging whatever shows they have on during the festival, head comedy-lab technician Terry Frisby has appointed each performer with ‘inappropriate material'. i.e. cast-against-type scripts from other local comics.
First, with his thick glasses, big nose, white lab coat, clipboard and leering grin that makes one thankful he's not a gynecologist, Professor Frisby warms us up with the above brief/disclaimer and some obligatory get-to-know the audience banter, plus a few pithy insights and personal assessments names and relationships, e.g. "I'm married too; don't worry, it's not serious."
Bravely breaking the ice is the "hardest working woman in NZ comedy," Jan Maree, sporting a bogan cut-off sweater, Daisy Dukes and hot pink tights. Her blokeish routine primarily discussing the curious phenomenon and inherent risks of euphemism, is by no means a total departure from her usual base, unfeminine character and I correctly identified the author as her own one-time collaborator Mike Boon.
Subject # 2, pasty white upper-middle aged John Carr, offers a straight-faced, ironic monologue provided by someone clearly younger and less Caucasian: "There's a reason I'm so ethnic-looking. My father was South American and my mother was Cliff Curtis." Again I recognised the vernacular of original artist Cori Gonzales-Macauer, and Carr's professional delivery takes the least self-referential liberties of anyone in the line-up and thus is the most technically successful in doing his prescribed material justice.
I regret that due to a flurry of audience commotion both times his name was announced, I didn't catch the name of the third performer – I think it was Dan-something. He's not a comic, just an acquaintance that Frisby implies made the mistake of getting drunk with him late one night and seconded into making his stand-up debut at this dubiously momentous event. The result is, for want of a better word, admirable, and although we aren't told the name of the chap behind his soundbyte-length snappy quips erring on the side of shamelessly offensive – tame example: "Chlamydia's not that bad ladies, take it from me" – I'll take a stab at Ed Caruthers (given half a chance).
Fourth up, international guest Reuben Lee gives an apologetic rendition of a quirky, contemplative series of pun-based flippancies such as, "Is a seasoned comedian one who's been basted in wine and oregano?" A long-suffering good sport, Lee's counterpart is again not named but the purposeful idiosyncrasy coupled with his fluffy fur jacket has me thinking Te Radar. All he's willing to divulge as he exits is, "Thank you very much, I've been somebody else."
Rounding out the selection of supplemental test-subjects is Tevita Manukia with a diatribe on television, in particular the chasm between real life as we know it, and that which is portrayed in TV commercials. I have no idea who he's emulating and, antithetic to John Carr, Manukia derives most mirth from the crowd by losing his place, laughing at himself and generally making a hash of it.
All in the name of good fun and scientific exploration. On reflection, it occurs to me most academic experiments are based on a preliminary hypothesis to be either confirmed or disproved. I wonder whether Dr. Frisby's included this step, and if so what the premise was and whether or not it has thus far proven successful or otherwise?
Either way the exercise is reasonably engaging and sufficiently amusing, so far as its inaugural line-up is concerned anyhow. Different players perform different routines each night, so really it's anybody's game.
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