YUK PRECEDES KIWI BRILLIANCE
NZ International Comedy Festival 2012|
RHYS DARBY: THIS WAY TO SPACESHIP
presented by AWESOMENESS INTERNATIONAL
at Opera House, Wellington
From 3 May 2012 to 5 May 2012
Reviewed by Caoilinn Hughes, 4 May 2012
If Rhys Darby hadn't been so charismatic and charming, so loveably self-deprecating and self-effacing, and just such a funny good guy, I might have poked someone's eyes out after the warm-up act, Adam Ethan Crow.
U.K. comedian Crow covers all the tried-and-tested-and-failed comedian bases: plaything midgets, midget breeding, 5-star Jews, manipulative women “who are so much smarter than men by the way”, drink driving as a hobby, the ginger affliction, disabilities – they're funny, huh? – and of course pedophilic priests. All this is bandaged together with the grating refrain, "We live in a fucked up world, man," and punctuated by Crow's dirty little sniggers, while ploughing his hand deeply into the pocket of his tight jeans.
His explanation that having an Irish mother and a South African father, and having lived in England for most of his life (thus having a ‘weird accent'), doesn't excuse why he is a UK comedian playing an American comedian in New Zealand. He is not Chris Rock. He is not Bill Hicks. He seems to be playing at some kind of sleazy, sardonic American Casanova. But he's just crude and British... which can work if you're sharp and original, like Jimmy Carr, but he is blunt and his jokes are as stale as the condoms he describes being stuck to his thigh.
Crow feels aggrieved when the audience is unresponsive to his quip that religions are ridiculous because some old men wrote some old books and "people take them as gospel." He waits for a reaction. "Fuck you guys, that was a fucking good joke." Was it? I thought I heard a gag but, no, that was just the audience gagging.
Moving on, the night was more than salvaged by Rhys Darby. I do not know if Rhys had anything to do with the choice of support act, but I'm hoping he chose it deliberately to create a joyous sense of relief when he comes on stage in the second half. The restoration of hope!
Rhys makes us feel good about being humans again. Thank Homer, the 'real life' anecdotes don't revolve around peeling crusty condoms off midget thighs. The anecdotes are unassuming and hilarious, and I won't give a single one away.
He's the kind of comedian you need to refer to by their first name, maybe because I want to be his friend. Or his child. Or his wife. Mostly his friend. He's a brilliant manifestation of the New Zealand sense of humour, and I think he's a national treasure in that regard. He's endearingly quirky, an engaging storyteller, and he's energetic and generous on stage.
I didn't expect the physical comedy element, which does really drive the ‘This Way to Spaceship' and it's a pleasant surprise. Rhys' impersonation of horses in dressage is a highlight, as is the peripatetic handshake. The ‘Spaceship' story format really works, as it's just what you want from a narrative device: it acts as an excellent ice-breaker, it moves the show along without getting in the way, and adds comedic value in its own right.
The only criticism I have, and it's a minor one, is that the cyclical format is over-used in stand-up routines and it doesn't add anything to this show. Kick it out of its orbit, and you've got a Kiwi classic; you've got world-class comedy.
Rhys will put you in a good mood for a week.
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