The New Zealand International Comedy Festival has started with a hiss and a heckle, but with so many shows to choose from, how do you decide which is for you? The Classic Late & Live. Two hours of stand up lucky dip: a choice selection of festival comedians for your devouring pleasure.
10pm is a great time to go and see some comedy and our friendly local comedy club, The Classic, is the perfect venue. Small enough to get up close and personal if you're feeling brave and big enough to hide at the back if you're not.
But wait, that's not all. The best thing about The Classic Late & Live is that it's a mixed bag. It's the perfect show for comedy novices and commitment phobes. Late & Live's the ideal way to see if you find the comedians funny without having to sit through an hour-long sketch you just don't get.
At Late & Live you'll be treated to 5 comedians, plus an MC to get you in the mood. We were lucky enough to have Markus Birdman, who worked the crowd well and set the tone for the evening. Following the Brit was our local 'ethnic comic' Pax with his array of accents and impressions. Next up was Aussie Luke Heggie, a master of one liners and dead-pan delivery and to finish the first half, cowboy Wilson Dixon.
After the break we were treated to the razor-sharp wit of James Acaster, a fresh face on the UK comedy circuit, and to round off the mix, his fellow countryman Andrew Bird. Some half-hearted hecklers and uncooperative audience members really put the comics to the test, but they made the most of what they got. I'm not sure what is was about the Bird men (Markus Birdman + Andrew Bird = weird coincidence), but they were the ones that made me laugh the hardest. All in all it was a great mix of different comedy styles and exactly the taster you need to know who you want to see again.
The Classic Late & Live's line-up varies from night to night, so you can be guaranteed you'll never see the same show twice. Seems to me there are plenty of good reasons to go again.
The NZ International Comedy Festival’s first Late & Live at The Classic began last night as Markus Birdman arrived onstage as our MC. He warned us about the upcoming use of strong language and encouraging us to be more creative with our own expletives. Birdman’s energetic and quick-fire performance was just what the crowd needed to get warmed up for the smorgasbord of local and international comedy talent that followed.
The first act out was Billy T nominee Pax Assadi, a South Auckland newlywed whose jokes about race and the challenges of being Arab in Auckland were refreshing and hilarious. Pax is obviously a very clever accent mimic and won the crowd over with his impressions of his Mangere homies. He was followed by Australia’s Luke Heggie, whose deadpan delivery of one-liner jokes meant it took a while to warm to him. I was afraid the whole set would turn out to be a string of puncline-type jokes, however after a few minutes he seemed to gain the crowd’s support as his stories developed a bit of depth and became more relatable.
After the break and some relationship advice (if it can be called that) from Birdman, NZ favourite Jesse Griffin aka Wilson Dixon made for a nice change of pace. His relaxed and meandering storytelling style was easy to watch and enjoy. His Southern accent and use of the guitar adding to this and giving his set a sitting-round-the-campfire sort of feel. Dixon rounded off his set with a song about his sister Darlene, imaginatively titled ‘Darlene’. No doubt soon to be this year’s number 1 on the Country and Western charts.
Next was James Acaster, the conservative Brit who veered away from his material quickly when a woman in the crowd yelled out that he looked like Bill Gates. Acaster, obviously keen to make the most of this outspoken (and drunken) heckler, brilliantly interacted with her and other audience members right until the end of his set. If that was what he’s like unscripted then I’m definitely keen to see what he can deliver when working off his own material.
The evening was rounded off by all-round funny guy Andrew Bird who had a great energy as he described life with his Slovakian wife and their new baby, or ‘pet human’ as he called him. A thoroughly entertaining watch, his jokes were delivered with great gusto and seemed to roll smoothly into one another. The perfect closing act to an evening of hilarity.