Crashed today, went for a nap at 6.30pm and woke up an hour later pretty groggy, so no shows tonight. Probably better to hit the wall now and get over it then it happening during the weekend or when venue managing next week. First night in since festival started, we’re at about half way point so seems fair enough.
Maeve Higgins has been the show I’ve enjoyed the most this week. I enjoyed watching a show that didn’t have an overarching theme or message that it was pushing, but one that allowed a persona and storytelling style to entertain instead. I do enjoy shows with a message too, two of my favourites in previous years were Chris Brain’s 09 show about his battle with depression and Nokise’s 06 White Club about that subtle New Zealand racism. But when that message gets in the way of entertaining an audience I feel it needs to be reigned in. Maybe I’m looking at it from a promoter’s view, but I’m wanting laughter first, message second. The reviews of Jeremy Elwood seem to suggest he has found the right balance.
I’m loath to share those views on Theatreview, hard not to come across as a comedy anorak. But some of the reviewers just don’t seem to express themselves as well as they should. Just read a review of Lovegrove that boiled his set down to the topics he was joking about, bodily functions, race and sex. The reviewer then said she didn’t enjoy the show because of this. Yet the same person loved Josie Long, who it could be argued also joked about the same topics. Its not the topic I’m interested in but the angle or approach that the comedian brings to it. Listing topics is not an argument for or against a performer, its just, well, lazy.
Interesting and I feel appropriate letter from Suicide Prevention Information NZ in the Capital Times about an article on Sarah Harpur in last weeks issue. Instead of pillorying Sarah for joking about a taboo topic they merely state that some wouldn’t choose to use that particular filter to express their feelings and as such direct them to their website http://www.spinz.org.nz for more information. The argument is not that every joke made about every topic is inherently funny on account of it being a joke, if that were the case there’d be no need for comedy shows as we could all stay home and make ourselves laugh. I’ve seen my fair share of onstage racism (Charlie Bonzai at the Green Room Kitty O’Sheas being a particularly horrible example), but not every joke about race is racist. Jamie Bowen was criticized for being racist, sexist and bigoted at Best of the Fest. I did not see the performance, but having seen Jamie countless times over the years I can only assume someone has misinterpreted various levels of irony and misunderstood the nature of performances at a late night show. Any one with an ounce of common sense knows you can’t always simply interpret performances literally and separate them from context, audience and environment.

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