'LOST AND FOUND' ODYSSEY OF SELF-DISCOVERY AMUSES AND MOVES
NZ International Comedy Festival 2012|
JAN MAREE: HAIRY TODAY, GONE TOMORROW!
directed by Katrina Chandra
presented by Lee Martin for Gag Reflex
at Fringe Bar, Cnr Cuba & Vivian, Wellington
From 1 May 2012 to 5 May 2012
Reviewed by John Smythe, 2 May 2012
I do like stand-up that pursues a purpose beyond just being funny because the comedy invariably works better when it bounces off some other objective.
In Jan Maree's case – and she is a 'case' – it's a search for her roots that drives the narrative. The classic who am I? / where do I belong? / identity crisis syndrome is no less compelling for being as old as humanity itself when a consummate storyteller makes it personal, true and entertaining, which she certainly does.
Her Bobcat-print onesie as a bonus, and there's a story to be told about that too.
"Born the daughter of a hairy misogynist Croatian and a Kiwi girl from Central Otago, Jan always felt a cultural failure," the media release reveals. The pitch in the Comedy Festival programme, however, suggests her trip to Croatia – the old Yugoslavia – last October came about "to avoid re-living the embarrassment of the last Rugby World Cup, being ejected from the pub and doing the sinister with a handful of Beroccas."
But it is the 'Hairy today, gone tomorrow' aspect, as per the title, that kicks off her hugely entertaining and surprisingly moving hour at the Fringe Bar. Hairiness is in her genes and on her face by nature, and a horror of ending up like her paternal grandmother has frightened her into the care of a waxologist, the results of which we may happily observe, on her face anyway, even as we relive the defollication process with her.
And it's her best friend's decamping to Indonesia for a teaching job that provokes her departure overseas, then the need for further treatment that gets her to Paris. So it's just a short – if scungy – hop to Split and the opportunity to connect with her aforementioned roots, in the form of her Didda's (grandfather's) birth place; a three-hour bus trip away.
There is poignancy and self-confrontation here, as well as a riveting 'Lost in Split' sequence that teeter's on the brink of illegality (you have to be there).
She's back in Melbourne, to meet with their Comedy Festival people, when the 2012 Rugby World Cup final is on, which provokes her retelling of the disgrace she brought upon herself in Hataitai, back on 2007: one of two anecdotes that find her pantless and us in stitches.
And so to the self-discovering dénouement, culminating in a surprisingly moving embrace of the culture she chooses to make her 'I AM'. What's more it allows for an audience sing-along, for those who know it: always a great way to cap a highly entertaining show.
In short, in sharing Jan Maree's 'Lost and Found' odyssey, we are likely to discover /recover some things about ourselves as well: not bad value for the modest admission price.
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