By Megan Blackwell
Artist / Show: Matt Stellingwerf - Bachelor of Arts
Date / Venue: Wednesday May 11th, 2016 - Montecristo Room, Auckland
Matt Stellingwerf’s show Bachelor of Arts left me feeling vindicated as an educated liberal; empowered as a woman; confused over my personal level of racism; and disappointed with the lack of lateral thinking I approached my tertiary studies with. Stellingwerf’s comedy is intelligent, clever and thoroughly researched. He’s a criminologist and primatologist turned comedian that has brilliantly and self-deprecatingly created a show where he’s put all his accumulated book and street smarts to comedic use. All the while being really likeable.
He started the show off as a bemused voice over. His monotonous tone would easily mislead you into thinking he’s a deadpan comedic that would spend the hour droning on about his observations on cats. However as soon as he took the stage it was abundantly clear why he deserves to be a two time Billy T Award Nominee. Stellingwerf owned the stage with a cool and confident attitude.
The volume of topics he touched on was mind boggling if not a verging on exhausting, including how bonobos say hi, shakespearean dirty talk, and homeopathy. Every subject matter he brought up was dripping with wisdom. His was so passionate about his knowledge he sacrificed a joke just to make sure the information he imparted was accurate. Not only did Stellingwerf deliver tight and lean material with barely a hint of effort, he frequently stepped back and got incredibly meta on us. He playfully acknowledged the Billy T judges in the room; was constantly gauging our humour level; and even deconstructed his set to deliberately elicited the right type of applause he wanted from us.
Unlike the lowest common denominator that most mainstream entertainment tries to appeal to, Stellingwerf assumes his audience is as intelligent and cynical as he is. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and wish him all the best for this year’s Billy T Awards.
Bachelor Of Arts runs from 10-14 May 2016