A WILD SOCIAL EXPERIENCE PLUS COMEDY GOLD
NZ International Comedy Festival 2012|
7 DAYS – LIVE 2012
Presented by TV3
at SKYCITY Theatre, Auckland
From 3 May 2012 to 5 May 2012
Reviewed by Kate Ward-Smythe, 4 May 2012
Judging from the crowd's reaction last night, fans of TV3's popular 7Days will relish the opportunity to see their comedy heroes entertain for a full uninterrupted 90 minutes, at a far more relaxed pace than the quick-cut half-hour on-screen version.
Those familiar with the TV show will be pleased to know that the on-screen format is preserved: from opening title music, to the games, to audience participation through 'Caption This' (for a prize) and 'My Audience Could Draw That' (AKA 'My Kid Could Draw That').
The entertainment value is not in the least diminished with the slower pace – I laughed till my sides hurt, I had tears in my eyes and I thought my head was going to explode. Very dangerous for your health and sensibilities.
Regarding the latter – warning – the live version is loose and uncensored; the language and content is at times, very very rude. While the uninitiated may be shocked, those who know and enjoy how far these guys will push the comedy boundary will be satisfied.
The thing I found most interesting about last night is how much of a two-way dialogue this format is. Because the comments and contributions are loose, ad-lib, uncensored and free flowing; the comedians get to test the audience's tolerance of raw and rude, by following up their most risky punch lines with, “Too soon?” “Step too far?” “Oh, so that's the line? Right, got it.”
In a way, the whole night is about finding that line, and pushing it back and forth. It's a very open, fascinating conversation – like a social experiment, where we become the censors, the upholders of any moral boundary.
If your crowd is like Thursday's, that boundary is very very low; essentially, our group dynamic decided that ‘anything goes'. We collectively laughed royally when 'Caption This' went as low as Queen Lizzie's private bits and Princess Kate's fishy breath.
Mind you, the public's tolerance for rudeness and shock value is certifiably high right now, across all entertainment platforms: For example, twice as many people ‘like' GC than hate it, if social media's response to TV3's latest reality TV show is a true representation of all of us.
Don't get me wrong – The GC and 7Days are leagues apart – 7Days' shock one-liners come from endowing well-known people into ridiculous situations and story lines, for humour and mockery (usually deserved). The GC's shock value is a sad reality check.
Content-wise, 7Days' tone gets a bit ‘boys-own' (all male cast on our night) – thank goodness Labour Party politician Jacinta Ardern was able to raise the bar during 'Yes Minister', even after Paul gave her a porn name. She entered into the spirit of 7Days and held her own with grace and honesty.
Recurring themes include Dotcom, John Banks and fat people in general, but it is the odd completely obtuse moments that really get me – like Paul Ego's yodelling Samoan.
Casting wise, on our night, Captain Paul Ego is teamed up with Lindsay Webb from Australia (who gives a fantastic Australian perspective on the ACT Party, likening it to a B-grade celebrity scrambling for cred) and Jessie Mulligan from Hamilton (who, like Jeremy Elwood, quietly contributes insight and obscurity, whenever they can grab airtime, plus they are both masters of reincorporating a theme to comic effect.)
While tap dancing on the edge of rudeness a lot of the time (in fact at one stage he admits under his breath. “Ooh sorry, I'm really dirty tonight”), Dai Henwood is a crowd favourite. Dai shines in this format, as he's always happy to share bizarre childhood memories, slightly flawed analogies, and act out the humour in his head with boundless wild physicality. Even the fact he cannot see over the desk to view the TV monitors, is comedy.
Alongside Dai are Jeremy Elwood and wordsmith Rhys Mathewson, whose clever quips and humorous self-deprecation go down a treat. (Thank you Rhys for continuing the show in the elevator: being in a lift full of star-stuck fans giggling on cue is the perfect end to the night).
It feels like none of the comedians self-edit before they speak: I think that is because the platform is such a safe environment – the cast trust that someone else will polish up their contribution, if it isn't quite fully formed when it leaves their mouth… which in the case of wonderfully wacky Dai, is quite often. With their collective strengths, quirks and flaws, they continually pick each other up, and then cut each other down –all in the humour vein.
The role of Jeremy Corbett as the host / ring-master – cannot be underestimated – He's responsible for pace, and for keeping the overall journey on track, so that from our perspective, it all just rolls into one night of great entertainment. He does it so very well – and is not afraid to say things like “I'm not answering your ridiculous question,” in order to move the evening on. He absorbs the occasional flat moment easily with a deadpan comment, and then segues on to something new.
Last night was both a wild social experience, plus comedy gold. Is it too soon to say this show has reached cult status?
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