“Yo yo yo” John Carr, the Kiwi king of Zimmer frame rap, called out to the audience as he walked on stage at The Cellar at Q Theatre on Friday night.
I knew little about Carr or his comedy before taking my seat for my first show of the New Zealand International Comedy Festival.
What I did know was that John Carr wrote this show with the apparent aim of ‘getting down with the young ones’, (you know, that lot with their ‘skinny jeans and negotiated consent’) and while his opening line didn’t exactly have that effect on me (one of the youngest people in the audience) it was a good prelude to what was yet to come.
Watching John I couldn’t help but be put at ease by his charming (though at times meandering) anecdotes and clever puns. He is at ease on stage, and has a warm and inviting presence. So much so that I will admit to at one point wishing he was my granddad.
While his age, and penchant for rapping, form the basis of his comedy he is anything but one-note – riffing off a variety of topics from Pokémon Go, to dealing with grandchildren, and picking up dates in the supermarket aisle.
He’s also (thankfully) a solid rapper and uses that comic device well throughout his one hour show, weaving it into his set in a way that wasn’t as jarring as it appeared on paper.
Sure, this was at times bizarre (how could the prospect of a man who looks like the Mad Butcher rapping not be?) particularly an extended but about his ‘rap beef’ with Leonard Cohen. But to Carr’s credit, he committed wholly to his onstage persona, even if I did spend a lot of time reflecting on the sincerity of it.
That said, his love for the audience – a mixture of friends, teachers, real estate agents, and yes, the odd young person – was 100% genuine. As was the obvious joy he got from being on stage.
While I consistently wasn’t roaring with laughter, I certainly enjoyed myself throughout and would recommend John Carr to anyone looking for a good night out.
Did John Carr succeed in his aim of ‘getting down with the young ones?’ Possibly not, however he certainly made them laugh.