HE KNOWS WHAT IT TAKES AND HE BRINGS IT
NZ International Comedy Festival 2012|
TARAN MOHANBHAI in JOKE IN A BOX
at Cavern Club, 22 Allen St, Wellington
From 9 May 2012 to 12 May 2012
Reviewed by Maraea Rakuraku, 11 May 2012
There is something very honest about Tarun Mohanbhai. Admitting to an audience that the show you've just watched, that he has just played, has a few speed-bumps – saying so despite the encouraging laughs and woops from the audience throughout the set – takes some guts, especially when you are a comedian of his calibre. Respect.
On entering the Cavern Club 45 minutes beforehand, I hear a range of International accents and the line is out the door. Promising. Though that doesn't actually translate to bums on seats within. Stink.
A Piri Weepu joke kicks it off to a hooting start. Great. And that's when we meet Ziggy, the front man of Joke in the Box.
Ziggy is determined to make it in comedy and he's doing it in real time in front of us. This is reality TV without the bikinis and inane talk. No hold that. There is inane talk only it's all part of the set-up and performance that's unfolding in front of us. Or is it?
While, Joke in the Box at times feels a bit like watching a dress rehearsal but without the stop-go momentum, it also feels very real. What we are seeing is exactly (how I imagine) it is when you're trying to make it in the business and I appreciate the insight and the effort Ziggy/Mohanbhai is exerting. From ventriloquist act to card tricks we get the whole shebang: the pain, the agony and even touches of ecstasy.
While this act is, to some degree, about the inner turmoil facing a comic coupled with the hand-in-hand occupational hazard of bombing on-stage, there's a difference. We're part of it. We experience it too. We're feelin' for you Ziggy and that's where this show could really shine. We're not being played. We're in on it and it's so refreshing – and that's in spite of the cock humour and cringe moments.
Throughout the performance the audience is lukewarm (and that's even with his family in the audience) and it doesn't ever shift up during the set but there are laugh-out-loud moments.
It's very Tim Vine 'Pen behind the Ear', as the last segment shows. He's got the goods. He's had it all along and he's rocking them. If it's a fly on the wall, speed-dating type experience you're wanting, Joke in the box is the show for you. Sure, it needs development and tightening but once it hits its mark – watch out. (Just quietly, it's worth seeing alone for the Welcome Back Kotter theme and Alf phone.)
It is what it is. This guy is a seasoned professional. He can obviously bring it plus he's been on the circuit a while. He knows what it takes.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.