Tag Archives: Skycity Theatre

NZICF 19 | 5 Star Comedy Preview

Friday night at Sky City on a lovely autumnal eve – within the confines of a bustling energetic and jammed packed theatre,  it was undeniably (as the multiple promotional banners would suggest) a SOLD OUT show.

Comedian Ian Smith introduces himself as the MC of the night, who upon initial observation seemed an interesting choice of host, alongside the stellar lineup for the introduction to the 2019 NZ International Comedy Festival.  Unassuming, though extremely affable and endearing with his tales of our local tourist industry – glow-worms and sheep shearing jokes ensue … He is the boy-next-door-of comedy and as the night warmed up so did my impression of him, as he kept pace with the impressive array of stand-up that was to follow, from the likes of; Alistair Barrie, Tom Houghton, Brennan Reece, Lauren Pattison, Phil Nichol, and of course the irrepressible Sinnerman ‘aka’ Paul Sinha (in no particular order) 🙂

Self-proclaimed ‘posh twat’ Tom Haughton led the show’s UK heavy charge with cute yet preposterous anecdotes of life as an impressionable, musical loving, boarding school youth growing up in upper-middle class Britain. ‘Manspreading’, child abandonment/spanking, double-barrelled surnames and an impressive rendition of Macavity’s Cat, were just a sprinkling of the issues touched upon by this young and vivacious comedian.

Slick, suave and metro, Scotsman Chris Henry is up next; playing on his nations dialect and providing us with the jazzy and energetic dance moves he honed and perfected during his not-so memorable stay in the Buttlands.   He incites the audience with his refreshingly open and honest observations of modern dating and recreational drug use, with clever and funny parallels between addiction and cheese.

Cue 2015’s English Comedian of the Year, Brennan Reece.  He dives straight into the internet gags and it’s inappropriate and questionable (or in his case, often appropriate) use, equating the typical gym junkie bod to that of a triangular Dorito on steroids was particularly hilarious, as was his distinct disrelish of a local personal trainer, who in this instance we shall refer to as only Marc. With a ‘C’ ….

Alistair Barrie rounds off the entertaining first half of the 5 Star Comedy Preview, with sharp, intelligent and astute digs at his own nation’s dubious history of colonization and its universally acknowledged lack of cultural sensitivity.  Alistair Barrie was a standout for me, with his mastery of creating situational imagery in such comical yet relevant fashion!

The lovable Yorkshireman welcomes us back for the much-anticipated final half, imposing a ‘chip amnesty’ on those many audience members crunching their way through the nights festivities …

With jokes regarding the London Underground network and it’s automated systems, Ian Smith provides a warm and familiar platform for the acts that are next lined-up to entertain us.

Making her own mark among a sea of men, Lauren Pattison assumes her position and stands up (no pun intended) in her own right to regale us with endearing tales of home (Newcastle) the initial differences of class within her own relationship and a most interesting fact regarding the Latin translation of part of the female anatomy most sacred

And now, to the moment we’ve all been waiting for (but particularly the competitive trivia geek in me) this 2019 comedy season we have … Paul Sinha, aka the ‘twat in the white suit’ and according to Wikipedia ‘the world’s only gay Anglo-Bengali GP turned stand up comedian’

He did not fail to impress, taking us on a journey, from his parents migration from Bengal to Bedfordshire, his not so stereotypical(yet at same time stereotypical) passion for football and cricket and a surprisingly unremarkable moment of sexual revelation to his unrattled father.  The Sinnerman surpassed all my expectations with his quick-wit, intelligence and well researched art of comedy, which reflects his undisputed reputation as international quiz-master.

Thus bringing us to the last act of the night.  Going against the UK grain that held court through the majority of the showcase, we are force-fed the crazy, fast and furious goodness of Canadian/Scot, Phil Nichol!

Like a dog on heat or ADHD – this cat blew me away with his energy and irreverance.  Pushing myself and the audience out of their comfort zone with his physical jousting and sexually charged innuendos.  Rounding off the stage with such spirited acoustic ballads as, ‘the only gay Eskimo’ and an impromptu duo between himself and the unsuspecting hero of the evening, the extremely accommodating and  hidden gem of the audience, leopard-print shirt wearing ‘Mal’.

Phil Nichol is a surprise catch of the season, and one to not miss – you will literally be falling off your seat with laughter!

The 5 Star Comedy Preview.  Like a fine tapas or tasting menu of delectable treats where you can, at your own discretion go back for seconds and recommend to your most discerning friends.

*****5 Stars!


interviewed | Bringing the gift of laughter, joy, and Bon Qui Qui to New Zealand…

Eleven years ago, the world was given a gift… that gift was Bon Qui Qui, a disgruntled fast food employee with no filter. It’s a gift that keeps on giving for Anjelah Johnson, the American actress, comedian, and former NFL cheerleader who created and brought the character to life.

Bon Qui Qui has since been enjoyed and replicated by over 80 million people worldwide and she has a hit album on Warner Bros. Records titled, Gold Plated Dreams, which Anjelah has toured twice, selling out both times.

“Everyone wants to hear from Bon Qui Qui and you know what, I’m honoured because not every comic gets that. Not every comic has something that’s resonated with so many people who will come to your show because they want to hear that, because they saw it online or whatever.

“I present the joke as a thank you gift at the end of my live shows; I’m done with the joke but the people aren’t and that’s what matters.”

Johnson describes herself as an observational storyteller who connects with her audience relationally.

“I like to tell stories about things that have happened in my life and in my relationships, and I like to connect with my crowd and relate to them – I think the best way to do that is relationally. We’re all going to have different opinions on things, however, most of us have relationships in our life. We all do. Whether it’s relationships with our parents, with our spouse, our boyfriend/girlfriend, with our co-workers, whoever – you definitely have relationships. I love to connect with people and relate to them on something we can all identify with and that’s typically relationships. I’m observational about what I see in society and then talk about it relationally.”

Generally, that doesn’t mean a lot of improv during her live shows.

“I know a lot of comedians that do crowd work, where most of their act is from the crowd in the moment. I definitely have my stories that I tell about my life and there’ll be some moments where I’ll connect with the audience and be like, I do this, does anybody else?

“I like to remind the crowd that this is a conversation I’m having with them; we’re all in this together.”

Sometimes though, things don’t always go to plan. Every comedian has a day or a show where the audience just isn’t buying what they’re selling.

“I feel like that doesn’t go away. As successful as you get, I still hear stories from my friends that some shows are so fire and other shows, the energy is just kind of low and there isn’t really a rhyme or reason for it.

“Everybody in your audience is different and they’ve all had a different day – one may have just been fired, another found out their sick, or somebody just broke up with their boyfriend. Whatever it is, you have no idea what each individual is going through and I’m a firm believer in energy and vibe in the room.

“I feel like people with strong energy can dictate the room. If you have somebody coming in with mounds of joy and excitement and they’re just happy, that will shift a room. But then, you’ll get some people with dark energy; they’re having a bad day and that will shift the room too.

“You can do your material and you can do your crowd work, but if they’re just having a bad day, they’re having a bad day, and you do your best to bring joy to them. It might not be the level 10 laugh, it may be the level 7 because that’s all they’re capable of giving you that day.”

Anjelah has to be doing something right; she’s appeared in huge commercial campaigns for the likes as Visa and Snickers, has guest-starred on TV shows The Shield, Ugly Betty and Curb Your Enthusiasm and her film credits include Our Family Wedding, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Enough Said, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, and Mom’s Night Out.

During her first visit to Australia, she sold out her 2014 Melbourne International Festival season and she regularly sells out comedy shows across the US. And if that’s not enough, she has so far released four hugely successful one-hour comedy specials on Netflix and Hulu.

With such an impressive CV and busy schedule, what gets her out of bed in the morning?

“Different things to be honest – it depends on what I have going on in my life and where I’m at. If I have a lot on my mind, the pressure wakes me up in the morning. In the calmer season, when there aren’t a lot of deadlines, I feel like what wakes me up in the morning is hope for the day.

“I prefer sunrises to sunsets because to me, a sunset, although beautiful, signifies the end and it’s the end of the day, it’s time for rest… but the sunrise, it’s so hopeful. It’s like, you have the whole day to go for your dreams; you have the whole day to achieve something you never thought you’d achieve; you have the whole day to take a risk and go for it.

“That’s what gets me up in the morning – I’m like, wow, I have the whole day to try and do something amazing with my life and that’s what fuels me….. As long as I’m not super stressed out!”

And on that note, here’s what she has to say to her fans in New Zealand:

“I am very excited to come down and meet you and perform for you. I can’t wait to bring this gift of laughter and joy and I hope that this joy just marinates in your home and infiltrates the land. Not to say you don’t already have it, it will be extra joy on top of what you already have. I hope I am able to come and just leave this gift of laughter and joy with you.

“Also, I’m starting out my tour in New Zealand and it’s downhill from there because I’m going back to Australia! So please, come out and share the laughter with me in August.”


In 2013, Anjelah reprised her role as her MADtv character Bon Qui Qui for a skit released by Alexander Wang:

Don’t miss your chance to see Anjelah Johnson performing Anjelah Johnson Live for one night only at Auckland’s SkyCity Theatre on Sunday 12 August. Buy your tickets here.

NZICF 18 | 5 mins with James Smith

James Smith is an accomplished comedian; born in Australia and now living in New York, he boasts a jaw-dropping CV. Aside from appearing on Comedy Central, ABC, Conan on TBS and Flight of the Conchords, James has shared the stage with comedy greats like Jerry Seinfeld and Louis CK. He was even chosen as the special guest on Chris Rock’s Australasian Tour in 2017. The accomplishments go on – he has written joes for Rob Lowe and Justin Bieber’s comedy roast and has even featured in Time magazine for his political outlook during Obama’s administration.

James will be in New Zealand for one night only with his new show, Pleasure Enthusiast. We had the pleasure of his company for a good five minutes.

Describe your show in three words or less…
Hilarious & thought provoking.

What’s the inspiration behind it?
I think life is unnecessary difficult and that it should only include pleasure.

Where will we find you during the festival?

NZ Comedy Scene – would you swipe right or swipe left?

Do you have any top picks for this year’s festival?
I haven’t seen the program yet.

What song or movie best describes the story of your life?
New York State of Mind – Billy Joel.

What are you currently binge-watching on Netflix?
Atlanta but it’s not on Netflix.

And your top 3 songs on Spotify?
Lemon by N.E.R.D | Sexual by Neiked | Stay by Zedd

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

World Association:
Comedy – love
New Zealand – great
Woke – important
Adulting – boring
Basic – awful
Trend – limited
Joke – quality

James Smith plays Sat 05 May at Auckland’s Sky City Theatre as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival with Best Foods Mayo.  Buy your tickets here.

NZICF 16 | Stephen K Amos – The Laughter Master

A man walks on stage, says he hails from a family of ten, explains how he used a cat to cover for soiling the bed, and fails at mimicking the Kiwi Accent.  Sounds like a long hour, right?… Well, not in this case.  

Stephen K Amos, a veteran on the comedy circuit in the UK, performed to a very enthusiastic crowd at Auckland’s Skycity Theatre on Saturday night. In his hour-long set, he tackles Social Media, ageism, dicks, and hecklers.  Beginning just after 7 and continuing for well over an hour with a gleeful smile stuck permanently to his face, it was clear that Amos genuinely enjoyed being on stage.  His jokes were fresh, entertaining and highly relatable.

He took the audience on a journey that included childhood anecdotes, not-so subtle jabs at Australian culture, and tasteful toilet humour (if there was ever such a thing).  From the get go, he had the audience enraptured; telling jokes tailored specifically for more enthusiastic members of the audience.  In one instance, he lured a heckler with false sense of security, only to ridicule him with class a few minutes later.

Amos was quick to apologise for lacklustre gags, possibly revealing the idea of a tailor-made show, and his enjoyment of ad-libbing.  He’s certainly one of the highlights for this year’s comedy festival and the good news is, he’s touring across the country next month – details here.

3.5 stars out of 5.