RELAXED, CASUAL, SELF-EFFACING YET QUIETLY CONFIDENT
NZ International Comedy Festival 2012|
TJ MCDONALD in MY LIFE HAS BEEN A SERIES OF POORLY MADE DECISIONS
at Fringe Bar, Cnr Cuba & Vivian, Wellington
From 1 May 2012 to 5 May 2012
Reviewed by John Smythe, 3 May 2012
The Fringe Bar's stage is already dressed with three flip-pads as we wait for the show to start. The central one announces 'These Are The Things For Which I Shall Not Apologise' (denoting an impeccable education in English grammar, at least). This is an interesting contrast to his show's title: My Life Has Been a Series of Poorly Made Decisions.
Stage right features 'Life Lessons I Have Learnt' and stage left, 'Dad Jokes', with both lists hidden by removable strips. All very promising. And in his relaxed, casual, self-effacing yet quietly confident way, TJ McDonald delivers.
His warm-up beat almost comes unstuck when a "Where are you from?" elicits "Spain" and he has no rejoinder to that (isn't their economy sinking?). The whole girlfriend – current lack of – status is a recurring theme; always good for the sympathy vote.
TJ's '60s-style spectacles are offered as fair warning that his humour includes a "slightly dated sense of racism and sexism" – and again, he delivers, unapologetically, as also foreshadowed. A Roman Catholic education also, happily, makes God stuff and Pope jokes inevitable.
The four 'Dad jokes' interspersed through the hour are splendidly groan-worthy and have the added benefit of making his other material comparatively sophisticated.
As to his Life Lessons, it's what he does with each category that's insightfully funny, so I don't think it's a spoiler to reveal he covers his bad habits, his desire to be noticed, how religion made him a loser, his cowardice and – testing us on this one too – the question of whether or not he is a racist and what exactly that means.
With quips about the fortunes arising from becoming a full-time stand-up comedian, TJ draws to his climactic conclusion by [doing stuff I've been asked not to reveal].
His laid-back style is a welcome contrast to the high-energy, manic and/or angry dynamics others bring – quite validly – to their work, making the Fringe Bar an ideal venue for his show.
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