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April - May 2014

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John Gordillo

John Gordillo - Cheap Shots at the Defenceless


A UK headliner who has been on the The Classic’s Festival wishlist for over 10 years finally makes it to NZ.

Not only a feature of The Big Show, Gordillo also performs his acclaimed 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Show for just six nights at The Classic.

Best Show nominee 2014, Leicester Comedy Festival

“One of comedy’s great thinkers. Heartfelt, intellectual or angry, he’s dynamite” - The Times, UK

“One of our finest stand-ups” - The Independent, UK

“A consummate comedian. Wonderfully intelligent and insightful” - TimeOUT, UK

Watch John Gordillo's performance at the Old Mout Cider Comedy Gala here!

Showing In:



Mon 12 - Sat 17 May, 7pm


The Classic, Auckland


Adults $30.00
Conc. $25.00
Groups 10+ $25.00* service fees may apply


0800 TICKETEK (842 538)

Show Duration:

1 hour

Critics Review

Courteney Peters -'Wonderful, hilarious and throught-provoking...'open/close
I like comedy that takes me somewhere - shows that begin in one place and end up somewhere quite different. The name of John Gordillo's show suggested he would spend his hour taking the piss out of the defenceless, which is why I went to great lengths to ensure I wasn't seated at the front. I needn't have worried though, it turned out the "defenceless" in Gordillo's show is more of a collective "we" - by the end there was a sense of outrage and shared understanding in the crowd.

The thing about this UK comic is he doesn't just stand there saying funny things, his show is a soapbox of sorts, he uses it to explain a specific problem he has with the world we live in. Maybe it was because Gordillo himself was so caught up in the pursuit of this problem that it was easy for us, the audience, to forget the jokes were coming. We were so busy nodding in agreement that they arrived as surprises - resulting in snorts and roars of laughter. The kind of explosive laughter that comes as a bit of a shock for all involved.

Gordillo uses examples from his own life to illustrate his argument, armed with a slide show of images, letters and emails he's actually received. The crescendo of disbelief came in the form of an online survey, and his response to it was brilliant - the highlight of the show for me. Gordillo's frenetic, tangential, almost distracted manner of delivery all perfectly added to the vision of a man in shock, gobsmacked at how we've allowed things to get so far out of hand.

The problem that Gordillo talks about is a real one. It's pervasive, and yet we hardly notice it. It was all the more interesting for me because what I do for a living means I regularly get caught up in it, even contribute to it. You could say that John Gordillo's comedy show led me to a sort of professional crisis. It was wonderful, hilarious and thought-provoking.

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Elaine Reid -'4 Stars - John Gordillo has, and in one delightfully funny hour he's going to give you his eloquent take on this never-ending over-familiar corporate assault...'open/close
Hey there! 

Ever noticed how more and more companies are talking to you like family or close friends (thanks for stopping by, you rock!) and are demanding, through emotional blackmail, positive feedback on everyday services? John Gordillo has, and in one delightfully funny hour he's going to give you his eloquent take on this never-ending over-familiar corporate assault. He will also explain why simply putting a book into a sack should not result in a 5 star rating.

Offering stories from companies who've crossed his path and the accepted bounds of familiarity, John gives a passionate, vibrant performance which has him bouncing around the stage with enchanting vigor. A collection of humorous clips back his performance as does a deep love and appreciation of Dionne Warwick and an endearing batch of stories regarding his relationship with his adopted daughter and his up-close-and-personal Spanish father.

A show to relish, to chuckle at and to make you think about your conception of relationships, love and the corporate world hiding behind a smiling neon chicken. 
John Gordillo’s impersonation of his Spanish Father is sidesplittingly hilarious. I detest impersonations as one step up from mime artists and shadow puppetry, but the intellectual rigour Gordillo brings to his fathers world view on gay marriage is both hilarious and genuinely touching. Defiantly worth a ticket.

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Nik Smythe -'Gordillo compares the practice and the mixed feelings of guilt and resentment it causes to his worst relationships, highlighting the agenda of these marketing tracts to actually fool us into believing they are interested in a meaningful emotional connection with us...'open/close
Citing a number of actual instances, with projected documentation to back it up, Gordillo presents a wholly cogent argument with the earnestly intellectual countenance and commanding gesticulations of a middle-aged English and drama teacher. Early on he declares that reviews are essentially meaningless, so it's nice he gave me a ticket anyway … More specifically, he's dismayed by the relative criteria for star-ratings (which Theatreview doesn't deal in).

The upshot of John's bugbear is the disingenuous ‘friendly' tone that corporate brochures, catalogues and cover letters frequently and increasingly take, from their special offers ‘just for you!' to their ardent requests to rate their service, even if they've just sold you a chocolate bar. It might seem obsessive or a tad paranoid at first to be so hot under the collar about it, but it's the subject of his show after all, and a great deal of humour is derived from what is on reflection a truly appalling trend in today's media.

He seems concerned we don't quite get the full depth of the point at issue. Perhaps, like many things, it's by degrees more intense and ubiquitous in larger populations like Britain and Europe, but we get more than our fair share of such deceitful propaganda aiming to make us feel ‘valued' by them, in return for our loyal custom. He's done his homework too, dropping geographically interchangeable names like Palmerston North and Colin Craig into humorous analogies for disappointing and/or ridiculous things.

Gordillo compares the practice and the mixed feelings of guilt and resentment it causes to his worst relationships, highlighting the agenda of these marketing tracts to actually fool us into believing they are interested in a meaningful emotional connection with us. He contrasts this with his own genuine relationship with his adopted daughter who apparently very rarely expresses any emotional connection, at least not a loving one, yet in his heart he knows it's there.

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Russell Brown - Public Address'The festival has been trying to get Gordillo for more than a decade. Now he’s here, you might want to get in...'open/close
John Gordillo’s New Zealand International Comedy Festival show, Cheap Shots at the Defenceless, is a careening, anxious meditation on a world of urgent, artificial intimacy; world in which brands anthropomorphise themselves and demand the kind of relationship we desire for ourselves and the real people we love.

It’s also a technically risky performance, one containing, as he muses to himself, some deliberately unfunny stretches. He’ll get on a roll and then undercut himself with an awkward, vunerable moment. He’ll spend so long contextualising that you wonder if he’s going to get to the joke, and then he does and it’s great.

Gordillo is a comedian’s comedian, and it wasn’t an accident that a few local pros were in the house for his first night at The Classic on Monday (“It was lovely,” Jeremy Elwood said to me later). He directs other comics: most notably Eddie Izzard as he transitioned back from the screen to the stage, and Ross Noble.

Sometimes I’ll see a stand-up and picture myself doing what they’re doing. I have, in a different context, stood on a stage, told jokes and made a crowd laugh. On Monday night I sat there actually trying to fathom the commitment that would underwrite an hour-long performance like Gordillo’s.

There were rough edges as he had to explain the British super-brands he quoted, and ask the audience for local equivalents, but most of the clunkiness seemed deliberate. In an age when we quote media in seamless digital samples, he reads it off phones and notepads and projects it onto a screen from his shitty little laptop.

In one key stretch, a series of screenshots from a brand perception survey for a hardware chain, the brand actually does seem to become a personality. A really shitty, needy, manipulative personality.

As the show closed, the storied marketing expert I’d been sitting with turned to me: “It’s all true,” he said.

Can a comedy performance make you see your world differently? I left the Classic vowing to more closely read my commercial communications, examine their conceits. In truth, I don’t think we’re as far down this road as mega-brand Britain. But we’d be fools to think it’s not coming.

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Sharu Delilkan -'He’s a spectacularly creative comic, using politics, romance and family relationships as propellers for wildly ambitious social theorising and brilliantly funny comedy...'open/close
It was hard not to overhear some of the great crowd comments as we filed out of The Classic following John Gordillo’s show Cheap Shots at the Defenceless – “high brow”, “excellent”, “different” and “hilarious”, to name a few.

It all started with a bang and the capacity crowd hushed before the man himself arrived on stage, quite unassuming and very English-looking. In his intro he takes the trouble to explain the somewhat quirky show, which you realise is necessary to appreciate the format that ensues.

Multi-media, audio visual, impressions, pisstakes and even short films are utilised to great effect. What started out as random facts were woven together in a pretty package at the end of the hour. And his typically English understated delivery endeared him to the audience immediately.

Having seen this evening’s show it’s not surprising that Gordillo is being lauded as “one of the key shapers of the modern comedy landscape in the UK”.

And although he may not be a widely recognised name in NZ, I’m sure it must be true that he’s the writer, director and benevolent Svengali that has helped to set many a major stand-up star on the road to greatness, which includes the likes of the infamous Eddie Izzard!

But it is evident that in his own right he’s a spectacularly creative comic, using politics, romance and family relationships as propellers for wildly ambitious social theorising and brilliantly funny comedy. And his show Cheap Shots at the Defenceless genuinely makes you cogitate in a whole new way, while managing to keep you laughing throughout – a skill that definitely should be, and was, applauded.

Gordillo is more of a mad professor/philosopher/earnest-idiot-Savant than a traditional stand-up, which definitely went down a treat with the audience. Great to see a show with a social message, a point, and chickens that don’t just/even cross the road!

As mentioned before Gordillo tends to explain a lot which occasionally belabours his points, but what he does impart is an important message which is very original and provides unique insight into society’s ills and quirks.

I have to say his gentle, good-natured and inclusive dealings with the odd heckle was masterful – allowing him to keep to his themes without having to destroy the heckler entirely. My co-blogger Matt Baker would have been proud. See his post Comedy Fest Hecklers: Shut Up

Your certainly get your money’s worth with Gordillo’s 70-minute show of earnest hilarity and honest observational comedy.

Why Gordillo has taken this long to make his debut at the NZ International Comedy Festival, I have no idea. But having seen and heard him in the flesh I can understand why the festival has been courting him for over a decade.

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Storme Sen -'It will have you bent over with laughter in your seat and then walking away pondering the consequences of the social message that Gordillo uses the art form to convey.'open/close
The lights are dim in the intimate space dotted by round tables where strangers sit side by side. I’m right up close and personal by the stage, within spitting distance of the comedian about to give me the funniest hour of my life. It was an apt setting for a show exploring the relationships we have, both real and imitation.

UK comedian John Gordillo is an Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee who has written and directed extensively for both television and live comedy, including shows for the legendary Eddie Izzard. A headliner who has been on the NZ International Comedy Festival wishlist for over ten years, he is finally here to perform his celebrated 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Fest show for six nights at The Classic in Auckland.

Cheap Shots at the Defenseless is an intelligent comedy routine that proposes social theories about emotional relationships we take for granted. It contrasts biological relationships with those that we choose for ourselves. But, most importantly, it shatters the invisible efforts by corporations to simulate relationships with us and questions the depth to which branding has infiltrated our existence.

Gordillo’s style is incredibly natural, touching and personable. Many comedians will polish their routine to a fine shine, measuring their tone carefully and never deviating from the script. There is nothing wrong with this, but it can sometimes make the routine seem very contrived, as if the audience is watching through a screen. Not so with Gordillo. The relationship he creates with his audience is anything but fake. His observations and impassioned disposition are relatable and endearing. He pulls the audience in and makes you feel as if you are having a direct conversation with a friend, not simply observing from a distance.

Cheap Shots at the Defenseless is comedy as it was meant to be done. It will have you bent over with laughter in your seat and then walking away pondering the consequences of the social message that Gordillo uses the art form to convey.

Gordillo began his show by pointing out the arbitrary things that receive a five star review and lamenting how hard this is to achieve for even the most brilliant of comedy shows. He needn’t worry, because I will easily give Cheap Shots at the Defenseless the maximum amount of stars possible.

Memorable, sidesplitting and thought-provoking, John Gordillo is undoubtedly one of the best comedy acts on tour.

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Taylor Sincock -'Gordillo's delivery was warm, lively, and engaging. He made use of the entire stage and was very expressive...'open/close
have been to three comedy festival performances so far. All three have been British comedians.

Out of them all, it appeared John Gordillo put the most thought into his show – and that is not something I imagined saying at first glance.

His show is called Cheap Shots at the Defenceless.

Gordillo welcomed himself on stage at The Classic to some foully worded hip-hop music. He stood there. His hands ran through his hair at a pace that made you think he was mildly crazed or stressed.

Gordillo's content was generally observational. He gathered a range of material that would usually not be funny, and dissected it all to convey humour. Most of the material he made reference to was relatable and part of everyday life – like customer feedback questionnaires and online shopping seller reviews.

My only criticism is that he set up several of his jokes with a lot of context, which at times became boring to listen to.

Gordillo's delivery was warm, lively, and engaging. He made use of the entire stage and was very expressive – particularly during his impression of his Spanish father. That was a highlight for me.

The show was just over an hour long and was concluded with a short film that Gordillo created, which tied all of his jokes together. It was an enjoyable way to finish.

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