Covert Theatre – Traffic Jam. NZ International Comedy Festival

It was reportedly touted that William Shakespeare said the eyes are the “window to the soul.” If this is the case, then actors Darcy Murray and Wade Jackson are living proof that this can be faked with impressive comedic results. All this with the aid of live improv theatre.

The congenial pair walk out on stage with nothing but themselves and each sit in a chair. From there they take you on a precarious journey all the while stuck in a traffic jam. Playing out scenarios that you’d swear were written off the script, this is where the beauty of Improv Theatre excels, as Murray & Jackson act their way out of their skins while sharing a ride to their romantic “cabin in the woods” experience.

Of course tonight’s show will differ from tomorrows. It’s been called the bravest comedy show you’ll ever see. Seeing this improv duo in action, you’ll swear that the show is scripted but every single moment is created on the spot. Fabricated stories of their twin kids Martin & Sophie (or Martini & Daiquiri) swigging alcohol or Dad Wade teaching their kids to gamble are treated with mild disdain but are quite funny.
Nothing is left to reason not even “horror porn” genre (We think it’s a real thing) or Wade’s alcoholic mother in law.

It’s a show that will have you marvel “How is it they know what to say or do next?”. I love the unpredictable nature of watching the show unfurl itself around clever, witty banter. Murray & Jackson are completely believable as the amiable couple stuck in traffic while the audience enjoy the fly-on-the-wall experience listening in to their hilarious Traffic Jam banter.

Traffic Jam is the show that can go anywhere while going nowhere – but you must get on-board and take the ride. Where it goes or what happens along the way on the journey is anyone’s guess.
Facebook – Covert Theatre

BARNIE DUNCAN – TAP HEAD. NZ International Comedy Festival.

“Barnie Duncan exquisitely takes comedy to a whole other level. Tap Head is not only out of the box, it is completely unmissable.”

Words Sarah Kidd

A tap walks into a bar and says…
Thanks to the genius mind of comedian Barnie Duncan, audiences of his scintillating Tap Head show will soon come to realise that a tap actually has quite a lot to say. He has hopes, dreams and a desire to be loved. Question is, don’t we all? Cleverly split between two separate characters, Duncan introduces us simultaneously to both stand-up comic Barnie Juancan who is perpetually running late and the main protagonist Tap Head, an ordinary tap who by day works in a public toilet while by evening he chases his fortunes at open mic comedy nights.

Duncan is an artist who is no stranger to the stage or screen, his performances at the Fringe Festival both here and overseas (especially when working with other such New Zealand talents as Trygve Wakenshaw) securing him prestigious awards on more than one occasion. Because of Duncan’s extensive credits and range, Tap Head embodies several different facets that make it stand apart from the rest. The theatre element to the production allowing Duncan to convey the actions and emotions of Tap Head brilliantly with sometimes something as simple as a few hand movements. Imagined scenery springs to life around him through his physical manoeuvres that have an impressive fluidity to them; ingenious sound effects designed by Daniel Nixon that emanate from a pretzel fed sound desk providing absolute laugh out loud moments.

It goes without saying, but anthropomorphism is a feature of this show that when moulded by someone as insightful as Duncan pulls the audience in, particular scenes eliciting emotional reactions from attendees that go beyond the realms of straight laughter. References to Juancans’ mother and her conversations with cups a statement on the beauty of youth, or just clever wordplay on the observations of everyday items. Do we as humans just naturally see our own characteristics within objects, or are we deliberately seeking them out, our desire for and to feel empathy part of our biological coding?
When Juancan appears absurdity and surrealism curl around the part mime/theatre/stand-up production, his dreamlike anecdotes often loaded with classic punchlines that occasionally border on the periphery of ‘dad jokes’ drawing you into something a little deeper, the meaning of which you may need to unpack yourself to discover. Juancans’ routine often sidestepping into outstanding musical interludes that swing between Berlin techno and the stirring vocalisations of Ultravox.

Witty as it is commanding, amusing as it is poignant; Barnie Duncan exquisitely takes comedy to a whole other level. Tap Head is not only out of the box, it is completely unmissable

Tom Sainsbury – Tom Foolery. NZ International Comedy Festival

“I don’t think Tom’s problem is laziness, rather the fact that he has a thousand great ideas and only one mind to develop them all.”

Words Anna Groot

A friend with his finger on the pulse, first alerted me to the talents of Tom Sainsbury and his satirical impressions, regularly posted on facebook, telling me I needed his videos in my life. He was right. Tom Sainsbury’s observations on New Zealand current affairs and his creation of recognisable personas and the idiosyncracies of some of NZ’s public figures, are a much better time than ‘animals do the darndest things’ videos – although they also feature in his show.

As Tom is generally in character(s) when communicating to his audience via social media, I was intrigued to find out how a live performance would play out. Tom’s unique stage entrance method saw him hiding behind the projector screen as the various characters he has created introduced the show via video. Coming out from behind the screen Tom asks “Who is the real Tom Sainsbury? “He speaks about himself in the 3rd person, for one thing” he says, setting the tone for the rest of the show.

Growing up on a farm in Matamata, Tom had a lot of time to develop his observational prowess, growing up. He credits his success in comedy with his USP as a scientist comedian. His scientific career began early, winning a highly commended award in science at school with the help of an affectionate brood of chickens and a conscientious mother.

Tom likes to think of himself as a scientist of the human condition. However, he also shares that he’s “someone who doesn’t do the work, but expects the results,” and that “this is one of my most unattractive qualities.” I don’t think Tom’s problem is laziness, rather the fact that he has a thousand great ideas and only one mind to develop them all….and the fact he openly admits his delight in the works of Katy Perry.

The show flew by in an hour and Tom covered a lot of ground from shedding new light on David Attenborough’s viral snake vs iguana clip to impressions of geriatric men with fly obsessions and irate, peroxide-haired mums wanting to talk to management. Tom also confessed to wanting to be Jacinda Ardern’s court jester, in return for lots of money and love.

I’d love to see Tom Sainsbury in conversation with David Sedaris. Like David, Tom believes that in comedy “everything is fair game” and that there are no taboos, also admitting that he genuinely loves everyone that he takes the piss out of. Tom recognises that there is a tricky line between being a satirist and becoming a poster boy for hate groups, but I think he is destined to become one of NZ’s most treasured entertainers, if he can be arsed.

Will Trump break Huawei? Has Jacinda done the impossible? – NZ Tech Podcast 440

Trump’s moves to block U.S. suppliers selling to Huawei, Jacinda Ardern vs Mark Zuckerberg, Lilium Electric Air taxi have taken off for testing, Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2, HPE grabs Cray supercomputers.

Hosted by Paul Spain and this week’s guest: Brett Roberts.

Listen to the Podcast here:


You can keep current with our latest NZ Tech Podcast updates via Twitter @NZTechPodcast, the NZ Tech Podcast website or the facebook page. Published by World Podcasts and Podcasts NZ

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Ivan Aristeguieta – The Fourth Floor. NZ International Comedy Festival

“Venezuela he says, is more “like a pork vindaloo – complex, often delicious, but often leads to a case of the shits.”

Words Anna Groot

Ivan Aristegieta is one ‘funny fucker’ – as he also refers to himself in an excellent impression of a complimentary Australian male. He takes control of his audience from the get-go, repeating his stage entrance “because he wants to get it right.” Creating the initial tension with a repeat entrance is intentional because “comedy is all about releasing tension, so we’re creating tension now so that we can release it later.”

This is quickly followed by some rock karaoke to the final song from the Karate Kid soundtrack which becomes a cleverly incorporated recurring theme throughout the show. As soon as the karaoke finishes Aristeguieta takes us on a laugh-until-you-cry journey, including insightful cultural observations on the differences between his homeland Venezuela and his new home in Australia. He opines on some of the more confounding cultural tendencies he has been exposed to in New Zealand and Australia and likens Australasia’s first world safety status, to the stable enjoyment of a cheese toastie, whereas Venezuela he says, is more “like a pork vindaloo – complex, often delicious, but often leads to a case of the shits.”

Aristeguieta is an absolute professional when it comes to comedic device. His seamless repetition of themes and references throughout his performance is a joy to behold. He uncovers the sexual power of the cup of tea and reveals that midnight cake time in the kitchen whilst discussing the plot twists and pitfalls of Game of Thrones is the ultimate foreplay for a man about to reach the 4th floor (his forties). Go and see him if you can still get a ticket. Or go to Melbourne and see him and his funny f*!ker mates perform in their adopted city. There are many comedic gems who now call Melbourne home.


Words John Kidd

I will begin with an admission of honesty. I am not a big fan of musicals. Something about all that joyous singing and dancing just kinda makes me flinch a little. In saying that however I have been wanting to catch Austen Found for quite some time, clashes in availability never seeming to go my way. But last night, the stars aligned, decrees were writ, and Austen Found and I were finally in the same room at the same time, which is very helpful when attempting to review a show to say the least.

For those unfamiliar with Austen Found, it celebrated its tenth anniversary last year; yes, that’s right it has been around for over a decade and has built up – deservedly so – a reputation for being quite the riotous evening out, hence tickets are always snapped up rather quickly. Created by the Auckland based improvised comedy specialists ConArtists (who by the way first established themselves in 1987 so they are very good at what they do) Austen Found is basically an improvised ‘Austen style’ musical comedy, each individual performances title gleaned from audience responses and the involvement of the very important “militia hat of excitement” which tonight contained the seven deadly sins.

But before we were whisked away into this musical world of laughter, our host for the evening gave a great quick verbal presentation about the real Jane Austen herself. For example, even I was unaware that Austen was engaged for exactly one evening, declining her suitors offer the following day! While it is not necessary to know anything about the famous author before attending the show, I personally thought that this was a nice touch and demonstrated the players understanding and interest in the person upon which they had based their production around.
So, we had our main character by the name of Catherine Wally-Bottom and the name of the musical, which tonight was ‘Envy & Elegance’ a wonderful combination of two words. I prepared myself for what was sure to be an excellent hour of entertainment.

“Austen Found was more than well worth the wait to see. It even won over this musical-phobic comedy fan.”

What I did not prepare myself for was just how outstanding the production would be. In all honesty I am still in some disbelief that the several players on stage improvised such brilliance on the spot. Yes, obviously there would be residual themes, character voices and word play from previous years that have collected in the bottom of the annually growing melting pot but watching the players you can also see that they are constantly reading the situation, before taking it to the next level of dialogue or song.
The players who are in period costume often use smaller accessories such as hats or scarves to ‘change character’ with humorous results.

Tonight’s play featuring topics ranging from muskets and a male’s pride in its size (oh yes, the innuendo does run thick and fast in parts), talks of marriage, amusing hymns and a badger, amongst many, many other hilarious moments.
The musical pieces (accompanied by simple piano work) are brilliant, the laughter rising from the audience often non-stop. Like any improvisation, there are some sections that work better than others, but overall Austen Found was more than well worth the wait to see.
It even won over this musical-phobic comedy fan.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

“If you allow it John Wick 3 – The Parabellum, will take you on a great action.”

Words Glenn Blomfield

The levels of action, has been pumped to adrenaline high octane level, the action scenes are freakin awesome. The John Wick story carries on in hurried pace straight on from where John Wick 2 literally left off, with John Wick running through New York streets with a clock ticking down, minutes to go before the bounty of 14 million dollars takes affect and every underworld hitman is after his head. Simple premise, taken to the most awesome choreographed action scenes I have seen in quite some time. The John Wick series of films have brought the R rated action films back to life, each one has me buzzing with excitement for the next one.

Each of the John Wick films expand on the last, and that is certainly the case with ‘Parabellum’. There is plenty of action showdowns to satisfy the fans, the styling and choreography is like a beautiful dance, though a very brutal and violent dance I should note. There is no holding back with the audience reacting with ohhh’s ahhh’s with impacting shocks, it is certainly an engaging ride, adrenaline pumping. It has been some time that an action film can be enjoyable like a rollercoaster ride. Keanu Reeves has brought back his powerhouse action chops since The Matrix series, even though he is a lot older, it certainly doesn’t slow him down. Even Halle Berry puts on her action boots, and kicks some serious action booty, her part is small, but certainly leaves a mark in the film.

John Wick, can’t escape his Hitman past he is dragged back deeper in each time and he has to sell more of his soul. As I mentioned earlier the premise and story of John Wick films is kept simple, to allow for incredible stunts, fight scenes combining in great thrill rides of action. There is feel of Spaghetti Westerns, if you look out for it you will see a homage to ‘The Good,The Bad, and the Ugly’ Sergio Leone classic film. While we are here, I will even drop a homage nod to James Bond film ‘Skyfall’ the fight scene in the room of Glass panels. If you allow it John Wick 3 – The Parabellum, will take you on a great action amusement park ride. I am definitely buzzing for the next John Wick film in the series

Greg Shanahan on TIN100 and NZ startups, Vodafone NZ sells for $3.4B, Uber shares tank – NZ Tech Podcast 439

Apple Podcasts

Greg Shanahan discusses TIN100 and NZ Tech startups, Vodafone NZ sells for $3.4B to Infratil and Canadian investor, Jeff Bezos wants colonies in space, Lime going rural, Spectre x360 and Uber lists on NZX and share price promptly drops.

Hosted by Paul Spain and this week’s guest: Greg Shanahan.

Listen to the Podcast here:

You can keep current with our latest NZ Tech Podcast updates via Twitter @NZTechPodcast, the NZ Tech Podcast website or the facebook page. Published by World Podcasts and Podcasts NZ

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Covert Improv Night Jester. NZ International Comedy Festival

Words Sarah Kidd

From the genius mind of Wade Jackson came The Improv Bandits in 1997, a group that not only still performs today but one that has been performing at this very year’s comedy festival! Back in the year 2000 however when the millennium was dawning, and people were losing their collective brains regarding Y2K and other assorted apocalypses, Jackson was busy producing a season of improv at what is now known as The Basement theatre. Why is this little piece of history so important? Because that infamous cast went on to become the founding group of Covert Theatre in 2001. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Covert Theatre has long ancestral bloodlines of comedy running through its veins.

Appearing last night at the stylish Herald Theatre, an unbelievable troupe of twelve performers – Paul, Matt, Sam, Mike, Georgia, Elizabeth, Denise, Phil, Rodger, Kylie, Tim and last but not least, Evelyn – were led onto the stage by both director and MC for the night Wade Jackson himself.

The troupe featuring not only a familiar face in the form of the brilliant Paul Paice from The Improv Bandits but five, yes five, ‘newbies’ for whom it would be their first time performing in front of a live audience. While this was not only logical – workshop classes are great but how can you truly learn to perform if not in front of a live audience? – but also extremely brave, it did however lead to some rather deflated moments in the humour where nerves would get the better of a performer and cause a lull in the progression of the skit; Jackson at times having to call out commands from the sidelines to keep the performance flowing or to remind a player of the rules of the game. On a positive note though, it did provide a rather interesting insight into just what it takes to become a member of an improv troupe, the evening inspiring more than a few in the audience to join up for tutoring judging by the comments made after the show.

The hour comprised of several short games, where – much like The Improv Bandits show – suggestions were taken from the audience to provide the base from which the players would cultivate their skit, last night’s performance yielding some hilarious moments and a human impersonation of radiation that even impressed the director himself. Classic improv games such as ‘Word at a Time’ and ‘New Choice’ put those on stage through their paces, the resulting twists and turns of each performance sometimes taking even the players themselves by surprise.

A shark fended off with a large gemstone, a ninja who wanted nothing more than to see Rome and a human pretending to be a mop and bucket in double time were all highly amusing highlights of an evening that can never exactly be replicated again; herein lying the beauty of an improv show.
So, let down your guard (for those who fear, rest assured you will not be brought onto the stage) and come armed with your funny bone and some unique suggestions for the performers who are guaranteed to leave you grinning from ear to ear before the night is done

Corin Healey, Ed Amon, Heta Dawson My County. NZ International Comedy Festival

Words Sarah Kidd

What’s better than a laugh fest featuring three comedians? One that has a feel-good factor too; those in attendance last night informed by Ed Amon that the profits from the sold-out performance would be donated to a charity that helps settle migrants in New Zealand. Following the enthusiastic round of applause that Eds’ statement elicited – and for good reason – it was down to the show at hand.

Featuring the talents of Corin Healy, Heta Dawson and the aforementioned Ed Amon, the trio of stand-up comics threw down the gauntlet, challenging each other to give as good as they get, some friendly ribbing revealing itself immediately. Take one small-town Te Puke boy turned bona fide JAFA and mix him together with a Pakistani Muslim living in sin and a Rewa Hard Māori father who knows the fine print in the treaty and you have the recipe for some quick quips and riotous roasting.

Turning their attentions on the audience the trio coax forth information which they gleefully play with before discussing their distaste of personalities such as Mike Hosking, Simon Bridges and the one and only Brian Tamaki; a man none too popular with anybody in the room and some great fodder for humorous social commentary. Breaking it down and giving the crowd a chance to get to know each one of them a little better – complete with visuals in the form of a projector sized photo from their younger days for shits and giggles – on an individual basis, Corin and Heta disappeared to allow Ed the floor, stories of his strict upbringing and requirement to hide his girlfriend in a cheap motel every time his parents come to visit the source of much amusement amongst the crowd; international barbs arriving in the form of statements about Yemen and Egypt which also reminded you of the wolf often facing others doors.

“There are more Kiwiana gems in here than you can shake a stick.”

IT Manager by day and stand-up comedian by night Corin Healy regaled those in attendance with advice on how to take down keyboard warrior hate groups, and guidance on when the appropriate time is to ‘smash an avocado’, the term taking on a whole new and sometimes dangerous connotation dependant on your current geographical location in the country. Heta the last to appear solo told tales of traditional family games while incorporating some Te Reo; the subject of flags and how many are too many when walking through the streets of Manurewa, one that many in the audience fully understood.

There was material that worked and some that didn’t, the three comics testing the waters and genuinely laughing at their own wins and failures which was quite frankly part of the enjoyment. Here were a group of men melding routine material and friendships into one big ball and having a hell of a lot of fun in the process.
Pegging both stereotypes and political correctness out on the table for some lively poking, there are more Kiwiana gems in here than you can shake a stick