Tag Archives: Festival

DocEdge 17 | The Last Laugh

Is it ever acceptable to make jokes about a real tragedy? This is the question at the heart of Ferne Pearlstein’s documentary The Last Laugh, which focuses on humour and the Holocaust. The documentary includes interviews with a range of comedians, directors and actors, from the legendary Mel Brooks to Judy Gold, Carl Reiner and Sarah Silverman. It also explores a number of musicals, films and skits that address the Holocaust in a comedic light. Examining the fine line between bad taste and successful comedy, the documentary pushes viewers to consider the concept of free speech in our increasingly PC world

To clarify one thing, in no way is The Last Laugh trying to claim that the Holocaust itself is funny. “But survival, and what it takes to survive…there can be humour in that,” Reiner points out. Furthermore, humour can be an avenue for coping with trauma: “it’s a way of dealing with an unbearable reality,” writer Etgar Keret says. “It’s a way of protesting [and] keeping your dignity.” Is it then simply a matter of time that makes it acceptable to joke about extreme tragedy? Does time make a difference, or will it never be okay? “You cannot forget,” claims one survivor at the Holocaust Survivors Convention in Las Vegas. “The shadow is following me all my life.” To her, and several others at the convention, it is wrong and deeply offensive to joke about the Holocaust. However as Renee Firestone, another survivor who features throughout the documentary, notes, you have to learn to live your life away from the shadow. Mentioning her three great-grandchildren she laughs, claiming “that’s my revenge” against Hitler.

Does this mean it is then a question of who can tell a story? Is it acceptable for Jewish survivors to joke about the Holocaust, but implausible for anyone else? The documentary looks at other examples to broaden the scope of the argument, comparing the situation to 9/11, the aids epidemic, slavery and white supremacy. It’s certainly thought-provoking, begging the question that, in a world of supposed free speech, are the people who have experienced a tragedy the only ones qualified to publicly address it?

Regardless, the interviewees all agree on the difficulty of joking about such a tragic historical moment. There is far more pressure for risky comedy of this nature to be humorous, Gold claims. “You can’t tell a crappy joke about the biggest tragedy in the world!” Despite the risk, Silverman believes that comedy should be used as a way of contemplating devastating occurrences. “It’s important to talk about things that are taboo,” she says. “Otherwise they just stay in this dark place and they become dangerous.” By discussing a topic only through education, museums and other ‘acceptable’ channels, do we lose sight of its importance and relegate it to a thing of the past? Perhaps. The Last Laugh will make you consider all of the above questions and then some. Maybe, however, we should just maintain Reiner’s personal view: “I don’t have a philosophy about it,” he states. “I just know that it’s a lot more fun to laugh than not to laugh.”

 

The 12th DocEdge Festival takes place Auckland 24 May – 5 June – www.docedge.nz

NZICF 17 | Justine Smith – An Hour Roughly

Justine Smith is probably best described as a raconteuse.

The chill of an Auckland Autumn night became a distant memory as we packed into Vault at Q Theatre for an hour of hair-raising tales and no-holds-barred humour, spiced with frequent colourful language and served with lashings of opinionated style. The show flies by and feels like a fraction of a night out with an entertaining, lively new best friend.

Loosely based around the theme of Nature and Nurture, Justine’s show opens with a musical introduction to her family – in fact, family is a recurring theme throughout the evening, as she explores the story of her adoption in sometimes brutally honest style.

Justine’s time spent travelling in her twenties and, later, working in the hospitality industry have sharpened her banter like none other. Life, love, travel, work, men and children – no subject is safe from her hilariously frank observations and sharp-tongued opinions.

Go and see her if you like your stories lurid and your laughs frequent – just maybe don’t ask her about the third time she got arrested… Get tickets HERE.

3/5 Stars

JUSTINE SMITH performs at Vault at Q Theatre until Saturday May 20th as part of the 2017 NZ International Comedy Festival from 27 April – 21 May. For the full line-up of shows in the Festival head to the Comedy Fest website!

NZICF 17| Hal Cruttenden – Straight Outta Cruttenden

Last night Hal Cruttenden made a strong initial impression entering stone-faced to NWA – his nod to the show’s title. He then opened his mouth, broke the spell, and treated the audience to some very British humor.

Interestingly, the naming of the show can be credited to Hal’s recent re-immersion to hip hop music after a hiatus of a few decades; In fact my favourite aspects of the show were perhaps his musings on age and the passage of time. Shakespeare talks about the 7 stages of man; He cleverly condensed it to about 3.

Hal also unabashedly interacted with the audience, ribbing them mercilessly but, for the most part in a non-combative tone (though maybe the biggest laugh of the night came when, on learning about the presence of psychiatrists in his audience, Hal ordered them to “LEAVE NOW”).

The choice of material, and his intelligent commentary on most of it were all fantastic, however his greatest strength is that he seems truly relatible. Scattered with the occasional segue and rant, Hal transitioned smoothly from Brexit to the folly of youth to parenting teenagers to his own upbringing and relationships – the night studded with many a groan or laugh of recognition from the audience. He is clearly intelligent, and clearly concerned with the state of the world – that said, the fact he left America well alone was actually rather refreshing (perhaps it provides too much easy material). He is a comedian who certainly knows how to read the audience and their responses.

The evening passed quickly and energetically, and I can’t recommend you go see him enough, as he really is a true comedic professional.

Get tickets to experience Hal Cruttenden in all of his glory HERE.

4/5 Stars

HAL CRUTTENDEN performs at The Classic until Saturday May 20th as part of the 2017 NZ International Comedy Festival from 27 April – 21 May. For the full line-up of shows in the Festival head to the Comedy Fest website!

 

NZICF 16 | Tim Batt – Vote Batt

Tim Batt brings his show, Vote Batt, to this years NZICF, in what was a worthwhile satirical political rally. Downstairs at the Montecristo, quite a bit of buzz had built up. The waiting area was relatively full and the atmosphere was a little thick – possibly because things were running behind and the wait was less than ideal.

Batt started off strong, and was solid throughout. His confidence was tangible during the show, although some of his delivery was  a little off, and his tangents became a little distracting during the 45 minutes. Due to time restraints and the late start, Batt had to self edit, and I feel like we missed out on parts that would have really helped the overall body of his performance.

Dressed in AC/DC-esque school shorts and tie, we were on the ultimately on the receiving end of a campaign rally crossed with a stand-up routine, scattered with misguided insight and slogan building. He even managed to convince the room there was a fifty-bag taped beneath a lucky audience members’ seat. He lied.

See? He’s already on the fast-track to the Beehive.

3.5/5 Stars

Get your tickets for Tim Batt, and see him dressed as Angus Young HERE.

NZICF 16 | Nick Cody – Come Get Some!

Nick Cody brings his routine ‘Come Get Some’ to this years NZICF, in what I can only describe as a relaxed, enjoyable evening of comedy. Cody is very much your Aussie Bloke type character, with a general love of beer and sports; he reminded us of this several times during the show without seeming annoying – a feat in itself. He also has some very strong opinions when it comes to TripAdvisor.

His humour style is rather straight-forward and accessible; with anecdotes of his travels, a lost bicycle, and his lack of a drivers licence at 28 years of age. Cody maintained a steady pace throughout, not losing steam at all during the hour.

It had the comfortability of chatting to a mate at your local (or ‘overhearing’ an entertaining conversation), and I’d recommend checking out his show for a casual night out. By the end, I wanted to recommend some pubs for him to visit while in the city. He’s the kind of person who seems like they’d really enjoy a decent pint.

3/5 Stars

Get Tickets for Nick Codys’ show Come Get Some! HERE.

seen | The day that changed my life

I went into this film with a sense of foreboding that only someone about to watch death can.  The Day That Changed My Life starts my showing scenes of the earthquake hitting Christchurch on February 22nd, this imagery is always bound to bring out tense feelings, wondering if the person in front of you will live or die in these few moments on camera.

The overall story is told from the viewpoints of several different people, using real footage from a press videographer that isn’t in the public domain. The first story is shot moments after the quake as both the cameraman and the Christchurch Press journalist on screen try to maintain their composure; they of course fail in the face of such a calamity. Seeing their own friends injured or dying during the aftermath.

A second viewpoint is told from the point of view of an ambulance officer whom on the day was helping lead the Latimer Square trauma centre. His tale is both inspiring because of the leadership role he took and devastating because of the decisions he had to make. Of course resources were constrained during the time of crisis and listening to this decision maker telling you how he had to let people die for the greater good is no easy task.

This documentary is well worth a watch for anyone and really does a good job of conveying the emotion of the moment to the viewer; one might find themselves holding back a tear during the final scenes.  Buy tickets here.

NZICF15 | Ben Defend New Zealand

We Kiwis have heard it all before, from the dirty sheep jokes to the prime minister’s hair pulling, it is time we take the stand to defend our nation. Come watch New Zealand’s very own Ben Hurley defend our country against three international guest comedians. Each night invites a different line-up of comedians keeping it ‘fresh as’, this is a great chance for you to sample what NZICF2015 has to offer. I attended a Thursday night show in week two with guest James Roque, Tevita Manukia and Steve Wrigley.

If you constantly tune in to watch 7Days on TV3 then you would know that Ben makes regular appearances on the show, but did you know he also is the head writer for it? This man is just as funny as he is on television. The sense of humour flows strongly in this one and he has a God given talent in public speaking. I had put my name down to see Ben Defend New Zealand not because of the funnies but the ‘burns’ I wanted to witness. Part of me wanted to see some serious word battles of the century, I wanted to see some tears of defeat among blood shed. In my mind I had a vision of one man up against three in a boxing ring with microphones.

What I had imagined didn’t quite turn out that way so to all you peace lovers out there, no one gets hurt. Instead of a boxing ring where people thrash words out like ‘are you mad bro?’ it was Ben one side of the stage interrogating the three poor guest speakers on the other end. Okay, so I may have exaggerated a little bit, it was more like a small quiz on what they know about their own country. I enjoyed this show not because of what I expected to see or hear (obviously), but the fun and games that it turned out to be. The whole show became a hilarious conversation about countries, traditions, habits and strange news. The only issue I had with this event was it wasn’t long enough, this needs to last the whole day darn it!

Here is a tip for this show do not avoid front row. If you think you can avoid being picked on by avoiding the front row you are wrong as proven by a lady I met at the venue. She was waiting for people to fill the front row so she could sit a row or two behind to avoid embarrassment, it didn’t work out well. When you’re target for the comedian you will be one no matter where you are in the room. So my tip is sit in front row if you can, don’t miss out on the full experience just to avoid a small chance of being teased.

Ben Defend New Zealand is showing in Auckland only and is happening at Q Theatre’s Loft. Tickets are available to purchase here on Q Theatre’s sessions page, this show ends this Saturday (16th May) so book your tickets now and don’t miss out.

WHEN:  10:00 pm   Wednesday (13th May) – Saturday (16th May)

WHERE: LOFT @ Q Theatre, 305 Queen Street AUCKLAND 1010

TICKET $:

Adults $25.00
Conc. $20.00
Groups 4+ $20.00

Cheap Wednesday $20.00
Thursday Special $20.00

* service fees may apply

Check out New Zealand International Comedy Festival’s Website for more fantastic shows and acts to see. Click here to visit Ben Hurley’s website and follow the links on his website to stalk him on social media.