Having laughed (too loud, according to my poor, blushing flatmates) at Nic Sampson and the rest of the SNORT team’s consistently brilliant improv on several occasions, I was expecting great things from his solo show. 'Replaced By a Dog' begins with Sampson’s realisation that his parent’s new pet is becoming quite a prominent feature of his family’s photo albums, and we follow him on his journey from home as he tries to break into acting. Spoiler: my expectations were filled and then some. I was captivated for the entirety of his show and can conclude Sampson is undeniably hilarious and can do a really good impression of the Gingerbreadman from Shrek.
These conclusions derive from the fact that there wasn’t a weak moment to be found during the show. Sampson draws on his many misadventures to provide an array of tales detailing travel, odd jobs and ridiculous situations – he’s sure seen some things. Or rather, overheard some things – most notably amongst Palmerston North’s bleak nightlife and in a zoo staff room – providing disturbingly memorable moments and golden material.
Sampson's show starts off with a distinctly Kiwi taste, figuratively and literally. His relatable musings on the inadequacies of the Weet-Bix ‘Tryathlon’ in prepping him for life’s cruelties, and an argument with a pompous loaf of bread, has the crowd nodding and chuckling along, but from here things got a little more surprising. Many comedians have a gift for making the mundane hilarious, but Sampson seems to have an edge in that he’s been in some pretty strange predicaments.
The best part is he's also blessed with (read: has worked really hard at) the ability to weave them seamlessly into an hour of simple, yet brilliant storytelling. This is interrupted only by the jarring propaganda of a terrifyingly sweet ‘corporate sponsor’ - a bizarre, hilarious highlight that just keeps on giving (and taking).
The show’s effortlessness speaks volumes for Sampson’s ability, refined through years of acting and writing experience - some of which we're privy to throughout the show. He has a subtle knack for both sarcasm and self-deprecating humor, adding his own unique brand to both. He earns each bout of laughter for sure, and I can safely say an evening spent at his show will certainly have him earning yours.
'Replaced By a Dog' is on from the 30th of April until the 3rd of May at The Basement theatre – you can find tickets and more info right here.
Matt Baker - Theatrescenes.co.nz'Sampson’s skills as both a writer and an actor are evident, from the cracking text and well-driven narrative, to bitterly characterised throwaway lines and occasional dialogue scenes.'open/close
For those who have had their fingers on the pulse of the Auckland comedy scene, this show has been a long time coming. For the past several years, Nic Sampson; writer, actor, and Snort stalwart, has been solidifying his foothold as one of New Zealand’s up-and-coming young comedians. For his first one-hour solo show, Sampson takes us rocketing through his early adulthood, from age 18 till today, essentially surmising everything you need to know about him as he transitions into a more widely recognised public domain.
Sampson’s skills as both a writer and an actor are evident, from the cracking text and well-driven narrative, to bitterly characterised throwaway lines and occasional dialogue scenes. It seems everything in Sampson’s life has been material for a comedy show, then again, it could be that Sampson is simply one of those people who can make anything funny – even his kill-me-now expression to an earworm in a television commercial.
There is no doubt in my mind that Sampson is a comedian to follow, and it would behove audiences to catch him at this early stage in his career. If you have any interest in the future of New Zealand comedy, this is a show on which you will not want to miss out.
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