Comedy Review: Pax Assadi

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By Andra Jenkin

Date/Venue: Thursday May 17th, 2018 - Q Theatre, Auckland

Pax Assadi is one of the comedians I've been waiting to watch at the comedy festival. I've seen him on 7 Days, and on Crack Up on Maori TV and he's always hilarious, but more that that he uses his sharp intelligence to focus attention on both what is flawed and fascinating in society. He's  got a perspective I haven't and always makes me think. 

While this is exactly what occurs, it's not the satire I expected. This show is all about family. He tells revealing and personal stories about his grandfather, parents and brother and they are so funny it hurts. His brother is in the audience and it becomes immediately apparent that Pax has not thought the ramifications of this situation through. His brother is unaware of information that Pax has chosen to reveal to his stand-up show audience, and it could not be funnier. The sibling dynamic expressed perfectly when Pax tells us his brother was an angry kid, and his brother simply yelling "fuck you!" The way they play off one another is brilliant and the audience loves it. 

Talking about his childhood, Pax tells us his grandfather is chill. It's clearly a family trait. He's relaxed on stage, and drops gags in a loose style that shows that he's already done this run in Wellington and there's no glitches or missed opportunities. Pax capitalises on every chance to  get a laugh. At one stage a thought occurs and he goes off on a tangent. We watch as he crafts the joke in front of us, and the audience can't help but join in, with one offering the right word for the premise and another a call back. All the way along Pax directs the interaction and mines the moment for the joke. From all over there's giggles, cackles and then all at once explosive laughter. 

Pax Assadi's comedy is hilarious and genius. Beyond coming up with jokes on the fly, interacting with the audience, and expertly crafting a joke, Assadi reveals a perspective that explores what is profound and beautiful about life. There are times when the gag makes room for the story and he has us spellbound. A masterful storyteller we all listen enraptured as he places us in his position, an ideal place for him to deliver a deeper understanding, and a perfect punchline.

There are themes around race, which he is known for, and being that the title is Brown Famous, is expected. The angle though is about being a father, and struggling to figure out what kind of world he is raising his children in. There are jokes around belonging, and even while he explains that growing up he felt like an outsider, he's doing it in a way that is so completely kiwi, that we know exactly where he's from.

This time I can reveal the end, because if it is part of the show it's so well acted that Assadi deserves an Oscar rather than the Fred. The wrong song plays him out and rather than cover, Pax extends the show to get it right. The audience are all ordered back to their seats to start the exit again and do it properly. We are all just about wetting ourselves with laughter at this stage and Pax Assadi exits, triumphant.