Montecristo Opening Showcase - NZ International Comedy Festival

By Megan Blackwell

Date / Venue: Thursday April 21st, 2016 - Montecristo Room, Auckland

I’m a big fan of our local comedy scene and was so excited to be covering a showcase of acts featuring in this year’s Festival. Each act was going to be previewing three minute snippets of their show. This is the second year that Montecristo will be hosting shows during the New Zealand International Comedy Festival. Last year they won the ‘Spirit of the Festival’ award and I can definitely see why, it is such a nice space. Great pizza, a swanky bar and an understated but beautifully set out stage. The place was buzzing with enthusiasm before the show had even started. You could feel the love put into the event from the sponsors Triumph & Disaster, Kraken Rum, Gravitas Media and L&P.

Tim Batt kicked us off with a light welcome. He created the vibe of a cool late night show with some classic light back and forth with the band. After the wee warm up, we were all set for a degustation of comedy, let me give you the rundown.

Jesse Griffin
The show: Sex With Horses, 23 April ­ - 1 May
The comic of many faces. His straight up “Jesse Griffin” style is very matter a fact and charming. His warm smile and fuzzy presence keeps you engaged and giggling with his insightful ramblings. Later in the show we were introduced to Griffin’s newest character The Artist Formally Known as Jesse Griffin. He’s an out of touch thespian who’s totally dedicated to his craft and giving his audience an all encompassing experience. The Artist is a delightfully silly caricature that pokes fun at excessively serious performance art. I found myself giggling at the sheer awkwardness of not knowing what was coming next.
Griffin describes his show in one word as:
Fully­immersing

Jesse, would you see your own show? "Oh yeah, of course! I wrote it for the likes of me."

The Show: Wilson Dixon Back Catalogue, 28 April ­ 5 May
Of course we were treated to a song from Griffin’s American alter ego, Wilson Dixon. With his musical musings Dixon’s sell­out show is a must see. His quiet drawl is the silver platter that he serves up simple, sharp and oh so funny lines on.

Kade Nightingale & Jeremy Rolston
The Show: You, Me & O.C.D., 23 April - ­ 1 May
These guys practically bounded on stage with a very keen and cheeky energy. I loved the way they cut through the awkward silence when it came to picking an audience member for their card trick. There was a simple naiivity to their jokes that was just plain fun. I initially found their back and forth quite rehearsed and polished. Normally that quality would be out of place in a comedy show where spontaneity is key, but the rhythm of their performance was oddly satisfying to the perfectionist in me. This wasn’t a cheesy magic duo act but rather the magic felt like a bi­product of the comedy.
Nightingale & Rolston describes their show in one word (each) as:

Whimsical and relatable.

Kade & Jeremy, would you see your own show? "Yeah, definitely. We’ve both been diagnosed with O.C.D which is what the show is based around. That’s something I think a lot of people can relate to."

Matt Stellingwerf
The Show: Bachelor of Arts, 10th - 14th May
Stellingwerf is a two time Billy T Award nominee, and it’s easy to see why. His comedy was self­deprecation delivered with cool self­assured confidence. Stellingwerf’s bassy voice lulled the crowd into a false sense of security before he had us laughing at some pretty outrageous stuff. But let’s face it, we were already thinking the same thing he just had the nads to say it out loud.
Stellingwerf describes his show in one word as:
Funnyintellectualcoolpolished.

Matt, would you see your own show? "DEFINITELY! I specifically wrote it for me and people like me".

Jamaine Ross
The Show: It’s All Good, 10th­ - 14th May
Ross busted out on stage, Maori and proud... and not Middle Eastern, just to be clear. He was the epitome of a laid back kiwi fulla. The elaborate word pictures he created were so engaging and funny I giggled my butt loose; I say that because I’m pretty sure if I see his full show I’ll totally laugh my ass off.
Ross describes his show in one word as:
#Offthehook

Jamaine, would you see your own show? "Oh hellz yeah! My show is up my alley. It’s the kind of comedy I want to see!"

Sophia Johnson & Cohen Holloway
The Show: 50 Minutes Plus Laughs, 3rd­ - 8th May
It initially felt like something was going over my head. There was an awkwardness to the set that was clarified when Johnson addressed that Holloway (from What We Do in the Shadows) was in fact absent and not milking his entrance. I generally enjoyed Johnson’s brief snippet of stand up. Her setups were misleadingly, and her punchlines were both funny and relatable. It was pretty clear that the set had a Holloway sized gap in it but Johnson filled the three minutes with spontaneity and funny but awkward, but actually pretty funny, slightlypassive aggressive, stuff. If Johnson’s half of the duo show is anything to go by the show’s going to be far from stock standard and orthodox.

Johnson describes their show in one word as: *pregnant pause* ...Art.

Sophia, would you see your own show? "Oh hell yes! I would definitely see it because it is art, aaaahhhhhhrrrt! Also because it’s different. There’s a lot of stand up in the fest but this is going to be different. Cohen hasn’t done a festival show in about 10 years, it’s a really good chance to see him live. What we’re aiming to do is turn everything on it’s head. If you’re needing a breath of fresh air and some lemon juice that will make you go just “WOW!!” then come to Montecristo!"

Tim Batt
The Show: Vote Batt, 3rd­ - 14th May
I truly enjoyed the way Batt embraced the awkwardness that radiated off the audience when he addressed people directly. With his silly and amiable demeanor Batt had no problems taking us through his political material. Carrying on his cheeky approach he slipped into some dark shit before bringing us back to genius punchlines. He’s been described in other reviews as “likeable” but I founnd him downright high­fiveable.
Batt describes his show in one word as:
Political

Tim, would you see your own show? "I absolutely would because it caters to someone of my interests. Politics and comedy. Someone who is making this up with things on the spot every now and then combined with excellently written material... if I do say so myself!"

Covert Comedy
The Show: Coconut Mojitos, 28th - ­ 30th April
I’ll admit, I’m not into improvised sketch comedy most of the time. I’m usually feel nervous for the comedians in case a gag falls flat or they draw a blank. However the off the cuff set from Covert Comedy was brilliant! It was a combined performance of two straight men talking and a third providing physical interpretation. It started off a bit silly and built into a truly hilariously set. The short hand between the three performers was effortless and the spontaneity made the physicality so impressive. I was actually disappointed when they wrapped up.

Sanjay Patel
The Show: The Very Best of The 140 Character Social Media Platform, 23rd April -­ 1st May
Patel was all about deadpan humour. His set was very straight and slow­paced. His jokes were carefully thought out and delivered with consideration. Patel’s styling initiated short abrupt bursts of laughter through his set. While his unconventional style isn’t for me, Patel’s show is a must see for anyone who loves subtle and straight­face comedy.
Patel describes his show in one word as:
Twitter

Sanjay, would you see your own show? "Yes I definitely would. I think it’s a fresh take on what Twitter is. It’ll make people on Twitter think about it in a different way and people who don’t know what Twitter is will be guided through it in a funny setting."

Brendon Green
The Show: Eggs & Ham, 23rd April - ­ 14th May
Green strode on stage fully amped! His commanding presences demanded my attention. Green possessed so much conviction it felt like he could have gotten away with just telling the audience to laugh for three minutes. His hard and fast approach had me laughing so much I lost track of what was actually funny. The rolling laughter he created in just three minutes makes for promising teaser for his festival show.

Green describes his show in one word as:

Happiness

Brendon, would you see your own show? "You know what, I would because I wrote a title that I would like. I wouldn’t like the photo of myself though. I’d be thinking, “Urgh, he looks like a dick!”."

Guy Montgomery
The Show: Guy MontgoMERRY Christmas, 3rd­ - 14th May
Montgomery had an average kiwi bloke style about him. His dry and obvious observations are very funny. His outrageously silly musings are hilarious! Montgomery moves from pondering every day norms to questioning how his actions might affect the emotional well­being of an entire other species. So brilliantly crafted, Montgomery’s delivery feels almost entirely off the cuff.
Montgomery describes his show in one word as:
Christmas!

Guy, would you see your own show? "Obviously!"

The night wrapped up with an amazingly funny raffle run by Griffin & Green where raffle numbers didn’t matter as much as the ability to raise your hand when asked to or standing up faster than anyone else. These were just a sampling of the fantastic shows lined up for the Comedy festival. If any of these sound like they’ll tickle your funny bone be sure to get out there and support local comedy!

The New Zealand International Comedy Festival runs from April 22 - May 15