Squeezed into The Basement Theatre last night at midnight, surrounded by a rowdy lot of tipsy twenty something’s, I felt like I had stumbled onto one of NZ’s best-kept comedy secrets. Why had I never been informed of Snort? Everyone else there had seemingly been in the past. Clearly, I’m out of the loop.
For those, like me, new to the experience, a friend comes out, riffs on a audience suggested topic before the Snort crew perform improvised scenes built off the monologue. The Snort cast consists of some of the country’s finest young up-and-coming comedians – Rose Matafeo, Guy Montgomery, Joseph Moore, Nic Sampson, Eli Mathewson, Donna Brookbanks, Chris Parker, Eddy Dever and Laura Daniel – all filled with boundless energy and goofy ideas.
The “friends” aspect is new for the Comedy Festival performances. Last nights monologues were performed by other comedians from the festival, Rhys Mathewson, Steven Boyce and Tom Furniss. Despite all three being new to the proceedings, they all managed to rattle off amusing ideas around topics such as baggage, UTIs and annoying cousins.
What’s great about the format though, is that no matter where those monologues ended up (Mathewson forgot what his topic was briefly and ended up discussing Britain’s relationship with cabbage), everything can be incorporated into the SNORT performances. The team, all seemingly comfortable just bouncing off one another, follow any random idea to its logical (or illogical) conclusion.
What might be most amusing though is just how much fun the group is having. Those opting out from any given scene, stand at the side, laughing just as hard as the rest of us. They jump in to help one another if things need a pick up, and carry whatever idea someone else has suggested. So much energy was expended last night that the Basement wound up with a hole in its stage. If this is a typical night of Snort, then I’ll definitely be returning for more.
Matt Baker - Theatrescenes.co.nz'A regular attendee of The Basement, there is no denying the fact that Snort has tapped into an entirely new audience potential. The balance of Snort regulars versus Snort virgins is almost perfectly half and half each and every week, thanks to both word of mouth and walk-ins. It’s obvious that Snort has had, and will continue to have, a long life beyond the comedy festival, but that’s no reason not to get into the habit now...'open/close
For the past several months there has been comedy cult gathering members in the midst of Auckland. What began has a Friday night 4-week season has turned into a weekly ritual at The Basement, with Snort attracting regularly sold-out crowds. Minimising the chaos, but finding freedom in structure, the show is based on a single sketch from New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade, which boasts members such as Amy Poehler and Matt Besser.
A Snort performer is selected and then given a word from the audience, from which they create a short monologue. The cast then create scenes based on said monologue. That’s essentially all you need to know. It’s simple, it’s easy for audiences to follow, and it unfailingly generates hilarious results. Having attended many Snort performances before, I can attest to not only the ability and extremity to which these performers can improvise, but also the genuine enjoyment that exude when doing so.
The Snort core cast consists of Donna Brookbanks, Laura Daniel, Eddy Dever, Rose Matafeo, Eli Mathewson, Guy Montgomery, Joseph Moore, Nic Sampson, Alice Snedden, Chris Parker, and Hamish Parkinson. It’s a guess to which combination you’ll get on any given night, and now and then the audience is even treated to a guest performer or monologist.
A regular attendee of The Basement, there is no denying the fact that Snort has tapped into an entirely new audience potential. The balance of Snort regulars versus Snort virgins is almost perfectly half and half each and every week, thanks to both word of mouth and walk-ins. It’s obvious that Snort has had, and will continue to have, a long life beyond the comedy festival, but that’s no reason not to get into the habit now. A perfect way to end TGIF and kick-off your weekend.
Rosabel Tan - Pantograph Punch'It’s playful yet pointed, ruthlessly clever but never cruel, and creates the delightful sensation that you’ve slipped and fallen deep into the hive mind of Auckland’s best comedic talent.'open/close
The format of the show models Upright Citizens Brigade’s long-running long-form improv night ASSSSCAT. Divided into three parts, each section begins with a comedian asking the audience for a prompt – usually someone in the cast will do this, but for the Festival, guests from other shows have been invited along (‘friends’ this week: Rhys Mathewson, Steven Boyce and Tom Furniss). Once a theme has been selected, the comedian has a couple of minutes to deliver an impromptu monologue (this week: baggage, UTIs and annoying cousins), which is then used as the narrative spine for a series of short improvised sketches.
It’s exhilarating and immensely satisfying seeing comedy born and shaped in this way, and the success of the show rests on the talent of their rotating ensemble cast (this week: Rose Matafeo, Nic Sampson, Alice Snedden, Guy Montgomery, Laura Daniel, Eddy Dever, Hamish Parkinson, Eli Matthewson and Joseph Moore) and their ability to build consistently entertaining and remarkably cohesive stories out of scattershot stream-of-consciousness.
The sketches are smart, reactive, and – crucially – very funny. Part of this lies in the way each member builds on the other’s gags: a digression in Mathewson’s monologue into the shift patterns of Air New Zealand pilots, for example, slyly blossoms onstage into an online dating exchange (“looking for someone who can deal with my emotional baggage”), which is immediately derailed by an insistence on discussing flight rosters, which reveals itself as an oft-deployed pick-up line (“pure heroine to women”), which takes us to a support group for all those who have fallen for this line.
Moments like this capture the essence of a Snort show: it’s high-energy, fast-paced and fun. It’s playful yet pointed, ruthlessly clever but never cruel, and creates the delightful sensation that you’ve slipped and fallen deep into the hive mind of Auckland’s best comedic talent.
For the full review head to: