Vela Manusaute's Big Balls show is a highly entertaining hour of stylish humour.
He invites you to join his 'Fellowship of the Balls', where balls are used as a metaphor for things that are significant; white balls, short balls and coconut balls to name but a few.
He takes you on an energetic, but personal, journey that ranges from teachers mispronouncing his name and lessons from YouTube through to taking his kids to the supermarket in South Auckland (and locking them in the car) and to being married for 18 years.
Vela doesn't go for the belly laughs but for the more subtle home-truths that make you laugh inside. It is a poignant journey that enthrals and entertains and is delivered with energy and subtlety.
He is provocative to the audience but draws them in with warmth and humour.
I leave with a broad smile on my face, and from the enthusiastic applause from the crowd I know that they do too.
The show started off in the classic Kila Kokonut Krew slapstick style that we are all familiar with. But it was not long before it was obvious that Vela Manusaute was totally on the ball. His latest show at the NZ International Comedy Festival titled Big Balls was a great way to get the ball rolling and to talk about the tough ‘ball breaking’ issues.
The tone of a show riddled with silly ball puns very quickly turned serious, making us realise that it was a different ball game altogether.
Vela’s creation of an all too familiar authority figure which can only be described as a cross between a religious leader and a motivational speaker was powerful, making the delivery of his ‘balls’ of wisdom unstoppable. It was great to see a Pacific Island created character, however insufferable, giving his fellow Kiwis a kick in the balls with special poignancy.
His use of the ‘ball’ metaphor was a great device, as opposed to sermonizing, which in turn made the audience immediately play ball rather than allowing the subtext to fall on deaf ears.
Many difficult and contentious issues were pertinent to the Pacific Island community, from which Vela hails. However his ability to make light of rather serious issues such as child abuse, religion and health made you keep your eye on the ball at all times, as an audience member. It also proved that Vela indeed has ‘big balls’ because he had the courage to broach these controversial issues that are too often swept under the carpet.
And the amazeballs thing about the show was that the no-holds-barred performance left no one safe, not even his ball and chain Anapela, in the audience tonight, was left unscathed.
Just when you thought a balls-up was about to occur the show went from balderdash to genius that reduced the crowd from nervous laughter, to shocked silence back to hysterical laughter again.
Putting his ‘big balls’ on the line was something that could have easily bounced back in his face. But he totally succeeded – the audience hung on his every word laughing and heeding the serious messages throughout the hour-long show.
Interestingly you ultimately realise that the ball is indeed now in our court to confront these uncomfortable subjects that we have avoided for far too long.
Vela’s decision to discuss these controversial issues head-on was definitely courageous and took big balls to execute.
To sum up, Vela’s show begs the question: “What is courage?” – This is.