DIVINE AND DASTARDLY GAMES AND GAGS
NZ International Comedy Festival 2012|
The Boy With Tape On His Face … MORE TAPE
Presented by comedy.co.nz productions
at Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland
8 May 2012
Reviewed by Nik Smythe, 10 May 2012
The seemingly makeshift assortment of cardboard boxes, a chair, a stool, shelf unit and bits and pieces (a microphone even!?), creates an anticipatory air of something playful and imagination-based. As this is my first time witnessing the now legendary face-taped Boy, I'm intrigued and excited, looking forward to learning what all the fuss is about and generally expecting the unexpected.
Firstly though, Jamie Bowen warms up the audience with his fairly universal brand of inappropriate wit.* He claims it's a homecoming performance of sorts, being a Shore boy born and bred, and proceeds to slag off any locals who didn't go to the same high school as him, before launching into twenty odd minutes about Being a Comedian (they do say talk about what you know), investigating social prejudices and stereotypes re. redheads, Asian drivers, male libidos, bestial pornography etc. Something for everyone to be both amused and offended by.
After the break it's The Boy's turn. As the near-full auditorium returns to their seats the title character, aka Sam Wills, sits pigeon-toed, sighing and fidgeting in his trademark black mop, stripy top, slim grey suit, purple sneakers and of course the iconic short strip of gaffer tape sealing up his gob.
The lights go down and a friendly PA voice welcomes us, advising it's an interactive show so if you're called up "play along, or you will look like a cock!"
Possibly the most classic of all musical introductory stings is that of 20th Century Fox, which our hero seeks to punctuate with a party blower... Problem #1: how can he blow the whistle with his mouth covered? Solution: the first of many instances of delightful ingenuity designed to charm and amaze, as they invariably do.
The first guest brought on stage finds himself embroiled in a wild-west shootout involving balloons, staple-guns and the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The next guy doesn't do much, just pushes a button, but just wait... Others are subjected to duelling, dancing, golfing exploits (found-object sports?), horseracing, balloon tricks, etc, etc … as a general rule laughing with the rest of us, and accompanied by rousing and eclectic soundtracks.
It's interesting to note that only two of all the guests called on are women – one to play senorita to the Spanish matador, and one ballerina-cum-blushing bride. I'm not sure if this is coincidence or policy; if the latter I'm curious to know the principle behind it. Certain feats probably do work best with the male physicality, like the loudest cheer-inducing stunt comprising four strapping fellows and Bill Withers' 'Lean on Me'.
Interspersed with Tape Boy's divine and dastardly games are a number of short solo gags with 'improvised' puppets, a swivel stool, more balloons, crockery and a Rubik's cube. All and sundry should witness the innately clever and definitively hilarious antics of New Zealand's greatest non-lingual celebrity artist since What Now's Props Boy (in the 1990s).
For a character who never speaks, he's certainly got the punters raving!
*Note, the Q season does not have a support act.
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