Orion NZ Radio Network, Rocket Lab’s 6th launch, Nokia 9 Pureview, AI for Mosque – NZ Tech Podcast 438

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Nokia 9 Pureview hands on, Orion NZ Radio Network, Rocket Lab’s 6th launch, Facebook vs Bot sellers, Artificial Intelligence vision tech for Christchurch Mosque, Oppo AX5s + more

Hosted by Paul Spain and guest Logan Caulfield

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Late Night Jazz Scat. NZ International Comedy Festival

Words Oliver Smith

On Friday Night I headed to Basement Theatre, to witness what is essentially a fusion of Jazz and comedy, in a way that the 2 art forms aren’t often combined.

The brainchild of Jesse Griffin, who was tapping the skins, adorned with a wig and shades, with his rag tag of musicians, creating a jazzy backdrop to each set, as the comedians got up one by one.

Having seen the show in last year’s festival, I did have an idea of what to expect, but the charm of Late Night Jazz Scat, is that there is still, always an element of peril. The accompaniment of a jazz band provides an interesting layer to the performances, but equally an interesting challenge, for both the band and comedian, to time it out in such a way, that each moment is punctuated at precisely right moment.

On this night, the participants were domestic comedians; David Correos, Ray Shipley, Ray O’Leary, Rhys Matthewson and Josh Thomson, with international guests Tom Deacon and Phil Nichol. (There is a different line up for the Saturday show)

Late Night Jazz Scat is a unique concept, which is entertaining in its execution. Watching the comedian and the band gradually reach an unspoken understanding and then proceed to thrive is certainly a site to behold, recommended for fans of Jazz, and comedy.

Alice Cassidy, Rachel Roberts & Becky Umbers Minimum Rage. NZ International Comedy Festival

Words Grace Hood-Edwards

At Q’s Cellar, Alice Cassidy, Rachel Roberts and Becky Umbers, the trio behind Minimum Rage, their debut show, begin offstage muttering as disgruntled employees behind the Cellar’s bright red curtain. They enter buoyantly, with sickeningly sweet customer service smiles and voices automatically identifiable to every millennial in the audience. You know, the ones we love and are so happy to put on for you. The trio mention this, ‘lying’ through their teeth about how happy they are to be here and to serve us tonight.

The idea of exploring comedy through the relatable, rage-inducing experience of working a minimum wage, customer service job is a good framework for a show. For anyone not familiar with the customer service experience in the audience, the barely sincere actions and reactions of these minimum wage employees must have been eye opening. For most they mainly elicited sympathetic nods of heads and laughter. Very soon after appearing on-stage, Alice Cassidy and Becky Umbers wheedle their way back off, claiming their ‘break’ – leaving Rachel Roberts alone as the first ‘act’ to warm up the crowd.

Positioned next to a keyboard, Roberts launches into a high energy and highly entertaining set that skips from a parody of Adele’s ‘Hello’ to a hatred of Kevin’s to an uproarious rap about bees. Explaining her diverse background of experience, we learn Roberts had operatic training – something that becomes clear through the musical performances throughout the show, where her vocals simultaneously wow, and keep these segments from falling apart.

Such a segment like a group song about the customer service experience was used to segue into Alice Cassidy’s section. Although slipping up in the previous song and seeming a bit lost, Cassidy quickly paved over that stumble by acknowledging it in a humourous manner, which the crowd enjoyed. Humility goes a long way. Cassidy moved forward into a confident and enjoyable set, the highlight being her obsession with Trade Me. The smooth assurance of her set was only emphasised by the surprise that Cassidy had only just turned 18.

The highlight of the framework was the “mandatory” tea and coffee break where the comedians went around handing out much needed biscuits to the audience. After biscuit delivery duties it was Becky Umbers’ turn. The beginning of her set got what would apparently be the obvious out of the way, wringing the comedy from Umbers’ diminutive size and her self-described “Alvin and the Chipmunks” voice. Umbers’ set focused the most on sex and relationships, but easily found humour in moments such as a Brazilian gone bad and a potential phone sex gig.

Whilst the trio behind Minimum Rage moved over familiar topics for young comedians – lack of attendance, pets, relationships, dislike of babies, etc. – these three always found a unique and entertaining spin on everyday moments. All of the girls received good bouts of laughter, and they all had the confidence and charisma onstage that deserved it. A stand out of the evening was Roberts; whether it was through her leading the group on keyboard or her wildly funny song-riffs, she was a magnetic presence throughout the show. Altogether, they came off as three cool Kiwi gals. The framework interludes perhaps needed a little more polish, but they handled their errors with aplomb and comedy – as any good comedian should. Excited to see where they go next.

Li’i Alaimoana SeriousLi’i. NZ International Comedy Festival

“Alaimoana is candid but not too direct, crude, but just enough to keep him off the ‘rudie’ blacklist, mean spirited, but fun.”

Words Wal Reid

What’s in a name you say? Well if you’re Samoan comedian Li’i Alaimoana, it’s everything. The likeable Polynesian comedian, who looks more like he’d be comfortable on the rugby field than in front of a mic, has his birth name insistently mispronounced. This in turn, has given him some useful comedy fodder. (unlike palagi audience member Chris, who had a way easier name to remember)

Alaimoana’s show SeriousLi’i hinges on shy, Samoan, self-deprecating humour. It resonated well with the packed festival opening night crowd, the vocal approval from the crowd had me thinking afterwards “Why isn’t this guy on TV?”

Alaimoana is candid but not too direct, crude, but just enough to keep him off the ‘rudie’ blacklist, mean spirited, but fun. He jokes his weight, his wife, kids, even touching on that touchy ‘hot potato’ depression. The payoff however is ‘human connection’, which he got by the bucket load tonight.
Li’is’ comic timing was executed flawlessly, his charm and Polynesian nuances spot on in delivery. I thought he worked the crowd well. Not many flat points, the show was definitely getting laughs in all the right places.

Eventually the crowd were rewarded with a rudie song for he guys in the audience (someone mention bestiality?) which for me was a set highlight. You can’t go past Li’i Alaimoana’s show, he’s very likeable, his stories worked remarkably well, even getting laughs with his gym fueled Haiku and Samoan tinged humour. Winner.

Seriously though, this guy NEEDS to be on tv, that would be tremendousLi’i awesome (see what I did there?) Long story short – next festival make sure you seek out Li’i’s show, by then he would’ve also lost a crapload of weight to joke about, and maybe have become Samoa’s sexiest comedian.

Brendon Green Of Consequence. NZ International Comedy Festival

Words Grace Hood-Edwards

Brendon Green set the scene at the Basement using a few simple decorated poster boards to transport the audience to an idyllic pastoral scene. The reasons for the sun and grass decorations become clear upon the end of the set, after Green used his time to perform an entertaining, thoughtful and, ultimately, uplifting set.

From the get go, Green is at ease with the audience, his performance assured. His jokes border on grim at times, splitting the audience, but I’m a fan of dark humour so they were some of my favourite jokes. Green likes to push the envelope, pushing boundaries, marrying important moments with the profane in a manner that somehow works. An example would be when he takes out his guitar at a table that has a ‘Hogwarts’ decoration on it, because “this is where the magic happens.” He proceeds to sing a song about the best sex ever, using a plastic novelty button, which ends up being about how he proposed to his now-fiancée.

“Arguably at the Comedy Fest so far.”

It is a show that evolves from a set that is clever but casual, into something genuinely touching and profound. Everything, including seemingly inconsequential details, connects to make an altogether well-crafted, heart-warming show. The content mostly revolves around his fiancée Sarah, which makes sense as Greentells us that he eventually decided to make this show about joy. This is a good choice.

In spite of all of his jokes, some at his fiancée’s expense, what comes through at the end is how much he loves his soon-to-be wife. Basing a show that ranges through a variety of topics on this ultimate love makes it better. His original plan, to end on a dark and depressing note in a show that was originally titled ‘Brendon Green Did a Shitty Thing’, would have been banal and unsatisfactory, if not unpleasant, for the audience. It is his final moments on stage that leave a lasting impression; something he is duty bound to do (“(leave) the room in an OK condition” ) by a previous AirBnB review.

A haiku by Japanese poet and lay Buddhist priest Kobayashi Issa about our “world of dew” is a core concept in Green’s show. It is ultimately about making something that is great and good out of our temporary time on earth. By making his show about love and joy – what is comedy anyway? – Green elevated it, making something good in the temporary time he had.

Arguably at the Comedy Fest so far, the stand out acts have been performances that aimed for something larger, some greater goal or concept that goes beyond simply being funny. Comedians probably have the hardest job of any performing artist in that sense. Trying to get the inspiration across without sacrificing the entertainment. On the flip side, what I’ve been learning over the last few days at the Comedy Fest is perhaps that comedy could be one of the best vehicles to channel actual life lessons and reflections. After all, laughter is the best medicine – and perhaps it’s that spoonful of sugar we need to make the more meaningful messages go down. Or, in Brendon Green’s case, that little shot of Mountain Dew to get him through the day.

Late Night Jazz Scat. Comedy Festival Review

Words Oliver Smith

On Friday Night I headed to Basement Theatre, to witness what is essentially a fusion of Jazz and comedy, in a way that the 2 art forms aren’t often combined.

The brainchild of Jesse Griffin, who was tapping the skins, adorned with a wig and shades, with his rag tag of musicians, creating a jazzy backdrop to each set, as the comedians got up one by one.

Having seen the show in last year’s festival, I did have an idea of what to expect, but the charm of Late Night Jazz Scat, is that there is still, always an element of peril. The accompaniment of a jazz band provides an interesting layer to the performances, but equally an interesting challenge, for both the band and comedian, to time it out in such a way, that each moment is punctuated at precisely right moment.

On this night, the participants were domestic comedians; David Correos, Ray Shipley, Ray O’Leary, Rhys Matthewson and Josh Thomson, with international guests Tom Deacon and Phil Nichol. (There is a different line up for the Saturday show)

Late Night Jazz Scat is a unique concept, which is entertaining in its execution. Watching the comedian and the band gradually reach an unspoken understanding and then proceed to thrive is certainly a site to behold, recommended for fans of Jazz, and comedy.

Snort Improv. NZ International Comedy Festival

“The show renewed my enthusiasm for improv and letting yourself be taken on a wild ride with no spoiler to ruin the surprise beforehand.”

Words Anna Groot

Deciding which of the many acts to support at this year’s comedy festival has been no easy task, with such an excellent range of talent and formats. We chose to kick things off with a smorgasbord of NZ comedic talents in SNORT Improv comedy troupe’s Edinburgh Fundraiser. With a rotating cast including the likes of Chris Parker, Tom Sainsbury, Alice Snedden, Guy Montgomery, Laura Daniel, Joseph Moore, Donna Brookbanks, Kura Forrester, Eli Matthewson, Hamish Parkinson, Brynley Stent, Rhiannon McCall, Lana Walters, and Eddy Dever, accompanied by three surprise guests, we thought this would be a good way to sample the skills of many who feature in the festival as individual acts as well.

I have a tendency to worry for show hosts in New Zealand that they won’t have enough people coming to their party. There was no need worry on Friday evening, the almost full-house was well-lubricated, amped up and ready to be entertained.

Eli Matheson was the host of the evening and received huge applause, announcing SNORT’s biggest show ever. They had a tight system in place to ensure every member had their turn in the spotlight and the enthusiastic audience confirmed the majority had been to a SNORT show before and were hungry for more.

‘Tetanus’ was the first word to be offered up and special guest Becky Lucas, was invited to expand on the theme. A story about a girl who stood on a stonefish that had been hanging out under the local jetty followed. Becky wasn’t sure the stonefish treading girl was worthy of the attention she received just for standing on a stonefish, nor was she happy with the attention Lana, a hot classmate and asthma suffererer, received, with her fancy puffer. She wasn’t even sure Lana actually had asthma and had some ideas around how that might be tested. Lana is dead now.

The guy next to me had developed a fairly severe case of hiccoughs by this point, which added to the general sense of chaos and hilarity

Tom Sainsbury’s stonefish impersonation went down very well with the audience, as did the frequent camped up physical theatre sprinkled across the stage by Chris Parker. Hamish Parkinson announced with great timing and delivery, that he had a “very sexy and confident foot” before his foot temporarily took over the show.
Cue Kura Forrester in front of a space invaders machine playing tetris in a fish and chip shop. “You can’t pause tetris” she yelled as her order was called out and she lost her chips to another customer.

The next special guest to be brought up on stage was David Farrier. ‘Root canal’ was his term to expand on and he shared that he had grown up in Whangarei on a diet of coke and fanta and as a child his teeth had been in generally terrible shape, which meant he had to wear braces.

One of the skills he developed as a result, was being able to flick the small, saliva-coated rubber bands attached to his train tracks, around the classroom. As he had neglected to wear his retainer over the last few years, to his horror, his teeth had moved back in his mouth, (he demonstrated this by providing the audience with his side profile) and he is now afflicted with a spontaneous whistle.

There were scenes about disability benefits and confusion over whether a fundraiser was being held or money needed to be collected, a Guinness world record of impostors was sought. Camp rabbits asked the audience whether they had “Ever been eyed up by a rabbit before” and further and further down the rabbit hole, we were taken.

The guy next to me had developed a fairly severe case of hiccoughs by this point, which added to the general sense of chaos and hilarity. The audience was encouraged to start singing happy birthday which they did with rapturous enthusiasm. When it came to the ‘happy birthday to…’ part, there was some confusion.

“I’ve been working here for 50 years and you still don’t know my name?” Brynley Stent croaks as she pushes an imaginary tea trolley across the stage. Special guest Mike McRoberts entrance on stage is met with great enthusiasm from the audience. His word is ‘babies’. “My co-presenter is having one,” he said before muttering something about others being disappointed they will no longer get a look in. That fell a bit flat but he quickly moved on to what he had clearly decided he was going to share as his story.

A dramatic run in with Hezbollah fighters while reporting in Lebanon followed, and ended with the Hezbollah leader saying to Mike: Hey, we’re not criminals” and returning a bag full of cash they had initially confiscated. Dildos in handbags being distributed to new neighbours as a community service, smuggling drugs out of Brazil and being pardoned due to having a ‘really cool’ NZ passport were covered as was, group grave digging and boys nights out.

The show renewed my enthusiasm for improv and letting yourself be taken on a wild ride with no spoiler to ruin the surprise beforehand. I’m looking forward to seeing many of the cast members weave their own stories on stage as part of the festival.

Tony Lyall Quiche. Comedy Festival

Tony Lyall is a natural comedian, his show containing enough varied material to ensure that there is something for everyone

Words Sarah Kidd

An eggy delicious treat? A party food alternative to the irresistible chain of cheerios featured at kids’ parties. Or a chance to truly learn how to spell a word that doesn’t tend to feature in the average everyday vocabulary?

The Project’s roving reporter and comedy writer Tony Lyall, the man with the boyish good looks, is back with ‘Quiche’, a show about ‘being brave and trying new things’.

Tony’s an affable guy, originally from Blenheim he’s now married, father to a baby boy and living in West Auckland where public transport trips are always an adventure – not necessarily a pleasant one – but at least they have resulted in him verifying to himself and the audience that he is up for the task of random spelling challenges from those of the alternative substances persuasion.

A talented storyteller, Lyall weaves his way through tales of those of the generation that like to give unrequested advice on capitalism while shopping in Bunnings, interjecting a little politics into the conversation to ensure that he ticks those boxes. Those who saw his ‘Just Kidding’ show last year will enjoy the tie backs, the latest endeavours of his son Ardie (who in no way, shape or form can or should be compared to a furbaby) bringing about genuine hilarity.

As a writer for 7 Days and with a regular slot on The Rock, Lyall has a voice that is both familiar and easy to listen to, taking aim at a couple of members of the audience he can tease without overstepping the line, while simultaneously segueing into a side note memory that brought about great mirth to both himself and those present.

The hour-long show flows well, with audience laughter frequenting throughout, Lyall at one point achieving a lifelong dream when it came to crowd participation. A little trip back into Lyall’s own teenage days involving citrus fruit, local police and op-shop scout jerseys was the source of much amusement, those from small towns themselves nodding heads in agreement.

But what’s this all got to do with that delicious eggy treat that Tony Lyall promised earlier in the show? Enter a story about a friend’s wedding. Complete with a couple of props, Lyall proves that he is indeed the saver of nuptial celebrations in the utmost unique and spectacular way. However, there is also an integral and poignant note attached, a very personal anecdote that hits home and one that Lyall delivers with both respect, humility and complete honesty. A sobering moment it may have been, but it elicited a very much deserved round of applause.

Tony Lyall is a natural comedian, his show containing enough varied material to ensure that there is something for everyone, even if you don’t ever look at pineapples in the same way again. So please, don’t forget to try the quiche.

Emma Newborn – Coral. Comedy Festival

Words Glenn Blomfield

Once again NZ International Comedy Festival starts. Opening Night was a busy affair, with hordes of people catching the first shows, I made way to Emma Newborn at the Basement theatre. The intimate theatre was at near full capacity.The evening was a 50 minute show, not stand up, but a one person acted comedy theatre. Emma took on the role of our protagonist Coral, just like the living growing organism, there is more that meet the eyes with this organism that lays under the sea, but has allot to offer, but yet needs to be understood.

Just like a Richard Attenborough discovery our planet documentary, we have a microscopic view of the strange and wonderful organism that is Coral. We view her life as a day at the office, a lonely receptionist, working for a Carpet underlay company, Coral idolises her boss Brian. The day is building up to a big business product carpet underlay demonstration. The only problem is Coral is left to run the show, and that naturally doesn’t bode well. The show is all about Coral and this day and its build to its apocalyptic style ending.

Emma Newborn has built a slow build show, quirky and patient, it grows comedic nuisances with subtle growth, building into more comedy anarchy. The general audience were laughing along, enjoying the character Coral. For me it was a slower build, there was a few laugh out moments, that shines of comedic cleverness, but what really won me over was its build to its manic ending, it throws it out there, Coral explosive energy was laugh out riot finish.

Overall the show works as an enjoyable experience, it is more on the quirky, oddball comedy, where it builds up to the final act, where things go laugh out loud comedy, you just have take the ‘Coral’ ride to get there. Emma Newborn is showing signs of shinning bright in NZ comedy.

Brynley Stent & Eli Matthewson – Exes. Comedy Festival Review

Saturday night I caught the early show by Eli Matthewson and Brynley Stent, more commonly known as Exes at Q Theatre. The show began with a slideshow of various pictures from their childhood through to their dating days and it wasn’t long before the couple, no pair, took to stage.

The dynamic of this duo certainly came across as well rehearsed however I enjoyed most when the script wasn’t kept to and Eli temporarily lost composure during a scripted scene of intimate nature. The crowd took a while to warm up and get the drift of the jokes and nuances that were meant to inspire laughter and while it wasn’t a laugh a minute there were a couple of good belly laughs to be had.
The atmosphere was very relaxed and the content was relevant to the now and was refreshingly feel-good with no negative vibe.

My only gripe is that I feel the Space Time Continuum could not possibly be torn any further as this was very repetitive with 4 or 5 times during the one hour they were on stage. The date of their break up, December 12 2009, is one that will be hard to forget as the evening was spent sharing various possible alternate versions of their lives. For my introduction to the Comedy Festival these two have left me craving more.

A decent crowd more than half filled the Loft at Q Theatre and with one gentleman being taken up on stage as a participant, it created that little bit extra to draw everyone in. After it turned out that that particular skit had homosexual undertones, the volunteer looked rather awkward as he headed off stage.

With some well performed Shakespearean monologues as well as some singing, the feigned awkwardness between these two only built a higher expectation. I am glad to say I was not disappointed and I, for one, am sure glad these two did split up as this created a great working relationship and I look forward to more from them.