Last year’s Billy T Award winner Rose Matafeo is apparently a fan of props for her stand-up comedy.
Her ‘Pizza Party’ show at this year’s NZ International Comedy Festival makes use of her laptop, some primary school work books and a pizza box, all accompanied with the awkward, clever charm she’s become known for.
Over the course of an hour, Matafeo shares tales from her childhood, her family life, her work and her computer, going so far as to show off that most personal of items, her internet browsing history. But she ain’t sharing that pizza.
It’s very hard not to like Matafeo as she works her way through her stand-up routine. And while she acknowledges her audience, she doesn’t rely on picking on them to fill up the hour – and was humble enough to bow down to an audience member that burned her from the front row.
And – yes! – she even has a new batch of impersonations to break out, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous (but still absurdly funny).
‘Pizza Party’ is further proof that her win at the Billy T Awards was certainly no fluke.
Alice Harbourne - Gatherandhunt.co.nz'Although I've seen Rose perform a number of shorter sets before, and as a regular in improv night SNORT, I still wasn't quite sure what to expect. The mystery of the show's title and synopsis further intrigued - 'Will she really eat an entire pizza on stage?', 'How big is this pizza?', 'Do we all get pizza?'. I think she'd prefer it if those questions are left unanswered...'open/close
This time last year, the office hummed with obsessions over funny women. I'd just discovered Lena Dunham's Girls (admittedly late), we'd all fallen in love with Josie Long after she gave us her wise words, and India had decided that young comedian Rose Matafeo might just be her ultimate role model.
This year I think she may well be mine, which is unusual as I didn't know role models could be younger than you. However, at just 22 years old, Matafeo shows signs of possessing the incisive perception of Dunham and the endearing whimsy of Long, which she focuses inwardly in this hour of varyingly vulnerable introspection.
Although I've seen Rose perform a number of shorter sets before, and as a regular in improv night SNORT, I still wasn't quite sure what to expect. The mystery of the show's title and synopsis further intrigued - 'Will she really eat an entire pizza on stage?', 'How big is this pizza?', 'Do we all get pizza?'. I think she'd prefer it if those questions are left unanswered, but suffice to say I was surprised by how simple the show's structure was. Too often there's a sense that comedians are confined by a theme they spontaneously invented in a last minute scramble to submit a show blurb months earlier. Whilst this may have been the case with Rose, she's not the type to be told what to do by anyone, even if it's her past self.
She makes this abundantly clear in a number of hilarious moments, like getting us to help word a facebook reply to a passive aggressive 'town manager', who's been giving her beef of late. She confesses a hatred of group facebook conversations, a guilty pleasure in leaving parties without telling anyone, and boasts the proud achievement of having once screamed in Nelson Mandela's face aged three. But there's a warmth to her nonconformity, which finds you siding with her rebellion throughout, even when you're probably guilty of the very thing she's railing against.
The highlights of the show for me, though, were when she moved from introspection to the outer world, like one joke that took on capitalism, teenage pregnancy and sexism in a few short sentences. It was an exciting peek into what her future material might look like - clever, political and highly perceptive. She'll make a great idol.
Although there was less Pizza than we were hoping for, that was the only thing lacking at Rose’s performance at The Basement.
Perhaps we just haven’t seen enough of her, but we felt that Rose on stage was a totally different comedian to Rose on TV. She was relatable, touching and everything seemed to flow form her in a natural way. She was on fire.
Speaking about things that flow from her in natural way, she had lots of gags about pregnancies, baby-borns, and even hot wheels flying out of you man-parts (yeah, you heard that right mate!)
Rose has us bent over in our seats laughing with jokes about her Rastafarian childhood, what it was like to grow up in the posher suburbs of Auckland, and attend fancy schools with all the white kids. We’re not kidding about the bent over part either, the guy in the seat next to us was heaving as he was breathing, we were worried he was going to pass out from lack of oxygen at one stage.
Without giving too much away, the highlights of the show were:
Everything Rose said
Closely followed by – coffee club murderers
The Town Manager from Waiuku
Snort (not a drug reference, we don’t think)
ALL OF THE Google Chrome tabs
Rose’s excerpts from her school books (DO DOLPHINS RUN ROSE? DO THEY? DO THEY)
And finally, everything that Rose said
For a girl who claims to not fit in, she had all walks of life waiting on her every word. We reckon the show should have been called ‘The Whimsical Whisperings of A Rose As It Bloomed Through Childhood Against All Odds’, but since Rose does anything but whisper, maybe it should be more like ‘Rose – bitches. I’m out’.
Last year I called Rose Matafeo the most exciting young comic in the country. She still is.
At the festival's opening gala this year (viewable online), the international comedians outshone the locals by quite some margin, with a few notable exceptions. Matafeo was definitely one of them.
Her new show Pizza Party is a wonderful collection of jokes about living in today's world, told in her understated and hilarious style. With pop culture references to things like Dragonball Z and '80s movie Mannequin along with a critique of the Coffee Club TV ad, it's very much what fans have come to expect from a Matafeo show.
Yes, there are some new impressions. Jill from Home Improvement is sadly gone along with Sylvester Stallone receiving a food order he didn't actually make. Thankfully, they're replaced by worthy successors, including Audrey Hepburn as a difficult flatmate and 'the worst dude in the world'.
Although each of Rose's stand-up performances have included a lot of confessions and observations about herself, Pizza Party is the most personal yet. She talks about her body, her family's wealth, which of Marvel's Avengers she is most aroused by, being a brown girl in a white school and the way she wants to eventually die, among other things.
Most personal of all, she even shows us what her Google Chrome tabs are. And eats dinner while performing, I guess that's pretty personal too. None of this stuff is even remotely heavy, however, nor is it boring or self-indulgent. It's all funny and as it's presented with Matafeo's endearingly geeky style, it's constantly entertaining.
I laughed harder during last year's The Rose Matafeo Variety Hour than I did in Pizza Party. But while I think Matafeo's last festival effort was better than this year's, as a comic she is undoubtedly a better performer and it's a joy to see her already considerable talents improve. The way she handles unexpected happenings and interacts with the crowd is particularly impressive.
Probably the best gag of the whole show is the theatrical final moment, which I just loved.
Matafeo is performing as part of a few other shows in the festival in addition to Pizza Party and I'm looking forward to checking those out too.
For the original review:
Less of a narrative and more of a theme-based show, Matafeo’s ironically titled Pizza Party addresses the fact that she is probably the least likely person to host, or even attend, a party. Matafeo’s self-deprecating humour towards the uncool reality of her life might be justified (she is very persuasive and the evidence is all literally there), but it doesn’t take away from the fact that she is definitely justified as an award-winning comedienne.
Of her first award-nominated show, Matafeo said that she “…decided I wanted to do a show with all the things I find funny, and there's perhaps not even a point to the show, but I'm just going to stand up on stage and do an hour of jokes.” It seems that this format has served her well, as the majority of the show is filled with short, sharp gags and commentaries that keep the audience humming along. Now and then, we segue into more personal territory, via the aforementioned evidence, in the form of web browsing and a public reading of her primary school stories.
None of these things, however, are accompanied by the world’s smallest violin, and Matafeo demonstrates her ability to take everything in stride, from public comments to personal Facebook messages. Even her asides and reactions to the audience are part and parcel with her performance. It is a testament to her ability to be funny without resorting to crass material, or conforming to things only because she thinks other people might think are humorous. Matafeo may not be cool, but she’s undoubtedly funny.
For the original review head to:
One hour of talking about yourself could come across as self indulgent, and Rose Matafeo’s stand up routine is ALL about Rose. Rose’s school stories, her family, hell, even Rose’s web browser.
But Rose Matafeo’s Pizza Party* doesn’t feel self-indulgent at all. It just feels funny.
She is supremely watchable on stage, and displays a quiet confidence that belays her 22 years. Sometimes when watching comedians on stage you get that “Oh feck” feeling. You know the one – that moment when you cringe and stare at your feet for a bit when the joke falls flat. That never happened with Rose. She was comfortable and in control all of the time. And if she wasn’t, she certainly gave a good impression of it.
Rose has the knack of finding the funny in the normal everyday stuff (which is a good thing, considering her profession and all). Subtle, rather than brash, she read 8 year old Rose’s creative writing stories out loud to us. She nailed it with her observations of the etiquette of exiting a Facebook group discussion.
She took us through her browser web tabs (in the digital age that’s almost as personal as rummaging through someone’s undie drawer) and her description of three year old Rose’s encounter with Nelson Mandela is outstanding.
For someone who thinks she’s intrinsically uncool, Rose Matafeo is in fact, pretty damn cool.
*Note.. expect plot twist with actual pizza.
I have seen many comedians who are roughly the same age as the twenty-two year old Rose Matafeo, who are therefore roughly the same age as me. What I realise a short while into Matafeo's Rose Matafeo – Pizza Party is that this is the first time I am seeing someone perform comedy that is really about living in this age. With jokes that benefit from being timely rather than timeless, Matafeo demonstrates that it's okay to talk about your life as it actually is, rather than doing an impression of the comedians that came before you.
There is a projector at the back of the stage displaying the phrase, in garish 1970s typeface and colouring, ‘Pizza Party'. At one point Matafeo pulls the image aside in its Preview window (“Use slideshow, Rose. Nah, I'm gonna use Preview.”) and proceeds to share her browser tabs with us. She tells us that someone's browser tabs are a uniquely personal thing, something that someone might excitingly leave in a screenshot by mistake, and she's right. A good twenty-five percent of my waking life is spent drifting through the internet. Sharing that part of her life with us doesn't feel gimmicky. Rather, it feels strange that nobody has been addressing this huge part of my life before.
Perhaps other comedians are hesitant that they might put off older audience members. They might be frightened of isolating their audience members who don't understand why using Internet Explorer is a punchline. Based on the audience's reaction to Rose's performance, they needn't have worried. Matafeo is the perfect every girl, and her performance is never ‘superior'. Her relaxed delivery, combined with her seemingly total honesty, makes her seem like a close friend sharing her experiences. You don't need to have grown up in the 1990s to enjoy listening to her; being human is enough.
For the full review head to: