Brendon is the Billy T Nominee you might be most familiar with if you're a regular gather and hunt reader. Last year he was our comedy festival reporter, and has consistently been the provider of advice relating to all things dating.
He came onto the comedy scene accidentally after he decided to move to Paris and live a bit. When he returned, he decided to get on stage and tell some of the stories of his adventures, and a stand up comic was born.
But what you should really know about Brendon is that he's lovely - his open mannerisms and warm smile disarm to the point that you feel you could tell him anything. On stage this is upscaled, so you always feel in safe hands, but also like you want to make sure he does too. It's an endearing chemistry. Here's how our chat went...
Hi Brendon! Funny interviewing someone I already know!
Yeah maybe I should interview you?
Okay fire away!
Where do you see yourself in five minutes time?
Asking you a great question
Courteney laughs with a mouthful of water. Brendon finds it funny.
This is an amazing interview so far.
What can we expect from your show Brendon?
Woah okay, straight into it! Lull me into a false sense of security with the water laugh!
You can expect a whole bunch of different segments and styles of comedy, whilst still just touching the heart strings. My main goal is to make people cry. And then maybe throw some jokes in?
I thought you said drugs for a minute but you said jokes?
Oh no I said drugs, definitely. What do you want from my show?
Well, I haven’t ever been to one of your shows! I’ve only ever seen little snippets in other variety shows, like that cabaret you did.
So you want me to do cabaret?
That would be great. But having read your bio, your first show was about how life wasn’t so great, then it got a bit happier in the second show, so is this one the happiest, most life-affirming yet?
You could say it’s the third installment of my triology. First was Everything is Meaningless and Nothing Matters (lol), then Everything is Alright, and now – some more Mr Nice Guy... It doesn’t really fit at all. Okay I’ll make it life affirming. It is very negative towards myself. Is that going to be okay?
Sounds great, I mean, a bit sad...
It will make everyone feel better about themselves!
Do you ever pick on audience members?
Never. I can’t do it.
Courteney: Last year, I didn’t mean to pitch in, but last year, you got someone’s iPhone and looked at their music and took the piss out of their music choices!
Was I taking the piss out of them? I was just pointing out that everyone has embarrassing music on their phones, so we’re all the same. One girl had Jennifer Love Hewitt, the album. That was my favourite one.
I didn’t know she had an album! I’m going to download it now.
Yeah you are. Legally.
Best gig you've ever done?
Probably my second ever hour show. For the first one, for some reason I thought it was a good idea to have a bottle of V and a chocolate muffin for dinner before hand, and I had to tell a comedian friend of mine that 'if I run off stage at some point can you go on stage and do ten minutes?' And I spent the entire hour on stage rubbing my kidneys, but I got through it!
And so the second night, nailed it. No problem.
Does an hour feel really long the first time?
Yeah, especially if you’re trying to hold down a V and a chocolate muffin.
So is that the worst gig you’ve ever done?
No that’s not even the worst gig. Okay. Do you want me to tell you the full story?
The worst gig I’ve ever done was in Hamilton which is notoriously a great gig to do, at The Cook. So I went down and did fifteen minutes and DIED. I sucked. They hated me.
It was my fault, I opened badly, and then 15 minutes of silence, crazy silence. I opened with too much pity. They couldn’t laugh at me because they felt so sorry for me, and I was second on the bill, there were three comedians, and so the MC had to come down and give me the ‘get off the stage sign’, and I was staying down in Hamilton that weekend but I didn’t want to be recognized the next day.
So I rang a friend and ran away to Raglan, and went into a bar there. I was talking to a random stranger and this girl came up to me and say ‘Hey were you in Hamilton last night doing comedy?'
And I said ‘oh my God yes I’m so sorry that was me…’
And she said, and this is a direct quote, which probably sums me up perfectly: 'oh no, it’s okay, I mean it was really hard for you, they put you on in the middle of two professionals’.
Do you have to be crazy to be a comedian?
Sometimes yeah! A little bit!
Who’s the funniest person you know that’s not a comedian?
No one, only comedians are funny.
What’s the earliest thing you remember finding funny?
To be honest I have a really bad memory, I have a thing where I can’t remember things, like definitely the past – I can’t remember when anything happened. So probably the last episode of Brooklyn 99. That was two days ago.
Who and what inspires your comedy?
Probably American comedians, for some reason they’re the ones that I aspire to
Do you sometimes try and subtly bring in an American accent?
I’ve slipped into it a couple of times. But they’re the ones that inspire me, like some of the specials they put out I think ‘I think I could do that’.
And books. I like books.
What’s your favourite book? Or the last one you enjoyed if you can’t remember?
I’m one of those dudes who’s a bit of a Kurt Vonnegut guy, so I’ve read all of his books and he is hilarious, and he’s the one that inspired me to name my show Life is Meaningless and Nothing Matters. Lol. Kind of looking at that kind of life but finding it funny – finding the humour in the darkness.
Ooh that’s really dramatic! Can that be my thing?
Yeah! What do you like about the other Billy T Nominees’ comedy?
Okay, list them and I’ll tell you what I think about them.
Don’t look at the leaflet!! You’ve done NO research have you?
Tim Batt. I find him so incredibly endearing on stage that I’m jealous because that’s my thing. Like he’s taken my thing and made it better. So he’s a dick.
Okay, so I get lost in his smile, and his smiling eyes, like when you interview him you’ll see, and his giggles, and…oh this is about his comedy isn’t it? He’s pretty good at telling jokes!
Stephen Witt – I love the fact I have no idea who he is. I mean I’m hanging out with him a whole bunch but I’ve no idea if it’s a character or him – and he might be committing to it amazingly or that’s just the way he sees the world, which is equally impressive to me.
Guy Montgomery is probably the worst person I know in the world. Not a fan, definitely wouldn’t want to hang out with him in real life.
What question do you wish you were asked more often?
I was trying not to be real arrogant then! How can I get the self-deprecation thing back in again? Erm – just like ‘hey do you want to come see a movie with me?’
Oh I was hoping I’d be able to use what you said as a question for the next few comedians, but that one…
Hey they’d be good to go see movies with!
Billy T Nominee and all round nice guy Brendon Green has spent the past two years developing a comedy persona that hinges on the fact that he's a lovely human being. The guy who never gets the girl. The chap who does embarrassing things in public - lets his friends paint his toenails, faints at the gym. Last night, he spent his hour-length show systematically dismantling that image.
It's as if Brendon grew a beard and in doing so, accidentally re-wired his frontal lobe. Gone is the grinning, slightly needy twenty-something, in his place is a comedian with a dark side. This guy has confidence, swagger, follow through. He cracks jokes and then moves on as if he doesn't even care if you laugh or not.
Some More Mr Nice Guy is Brendon's attempt to convince his audience that he's not actually a nice guy. He's a pretender. It's a series of confessions, side stories and witty musical tangents that are all intended to play havoc with your judgement of the man in front of you. At the end of the show I had to decide whether I believed in bad Brendon or not. I did. I don't trust people who don't like pictures of kittens. You know what I do trust though? A stand up comedian with flaws.
There was nothing flawed about Brendon's performance though. He pulled great shouts of laughter from the crowd with his one-liners and unexpected transgressions. We loved it, we lapped it up. He created such an atmosphere of ease and openness that we were all yelling gleefully at him by the end, joining him on his descent into not-niceness.
The best, and most promising thing about Brendon's show was how much I could identify with it. After all, we've all done things we're not proud of, we all have things in our past we wish hadn't happened. Brendon took his nice guy image and humanised it, and in doing so, brought us all onside. So despite the fact I'm still angry about his attitude to animals, I actually think I like the not nice Brendon Green more.
This didn't seem like a one hour show from a young, green comedian, it was thoroughly polished and superbly entertaining. He's onto it, this one.
His show Some More Mr Nice Guy is all about our perception of Brendon. A large canvas background reads ‘We are who we pretend to be, so we should be careful what we pretend to be’ (Kurt Vonnegut). On the floor below are lots of smaller canvases, featuring sentences written by friends describing Brendon as an all round nice guy. He’s a nice guy, right? He says it’s all an act, so he spends his hour show trying to convince us otherwise through a series of confessions and bad habits. He even wants us to judge him.
The show begins in a surprisingly somber way with a song about our mortality, followed by some energetic expressive dance. His stand-up begins a little nervously (or maybe he is just out of breath from all the dancing), but he soon relaxes into it.
His material is clever and, if he is telling the truth, he is letting some serious skeletons out the closet here. Green is a very smart man, and I think we will see his confidence and material go from strength to strength in coming years. I especially enjoyed how he made the audience gasp, belly laugh and have awkward silences. This shows a lot of confidence, as many less experienced comedians can be guilty of not allowing their jokes the time to sink in.
I came out of his show having had a right good laugh, and admired his moxy to make himself a target for the giggles.
Brendon is putting it out there that he is a dead ringer for Michael Fassbender, or a poor mans Ewan McGregor, but I think we can be happy with Brendon Green as he’s not a bad guy really. Turns out he’s a pretty good comedian too.
Lord Sutch - Ruminator.co.nz'Each moment of the show, each statement has been carefully constructed revealing a depth of script writing that I haven’t yet witnessed this festival.'open/close
I’m noticing a trend in festival shows this year. We’re not getting the big introductions where we’re asked to go “crazy and wild” for the comic. Instead the comedian is just sort of there.
The first introduction that Brendon does is exactly that. He appears as a shadow in the corner of BATS theatre, then just ambles to the centre. Then he sits at a guitar and sings a song. It’s an ok song, nothing terribly funny about it. But then he has a couple of throwaway lines about the song and that completely compensates for any lack of amusement we may have experienced. This nicely sums up Brendon’s show.
His second introduction followed the song and I’m super impressed to see him use music and lighting changes to also draw laughs out of the audience. It showed a performer willing to take risks and it more than paid off.
The overall concept is a good one. Brendon is the “nice guy” of his friends. That’s how everyone describes him. And he’s not sure if he’s actually a nice guy or not. So he’s telling the audience horrible stories about himself and then letting us judge whether he really is a nice guy. It’s a nice twist on the “story of how I got where I am” that we so often see in Billy T nominated shows and one that serves him well.
This deconstruction of a personality could be handled badly in the wrong hands. Because he’s telling personal stories he runs the risk of losing the audience if they are unable to relate to him (some of the things he’s done truly are dreadful). However Brendon shows a deft skill in winning us over even in the face of stuff that we would find awfully unpleasant.
His stage persona is a little self-deprecating. But it feels like it’s the sort of deprecation that actually masks a strong self-confidence. The meshing of the two means that Brendon stays the figure of fun, but the material is delivered strongly. Even when he starts heading into material that I’ve previously objected to in the festival, he manages to subvert our expectations and deliver a fantastic deconstruction of the chauvinist perspective.
He’s clearly got a lot of stand-up comedy influences. The show seems to pay homage to Dmetri Martin, Flight of the Conchords and the longer-form story telling of Louis CK and while a cynic may call it derivative, I felt like Brendon put his own stamp on the material enough for it to be great.
The most impressive part of the show for me was how he deftly wove earlier gags into later parts of the show. There were some lines that seemed incongruous to me early on, however these were made to be parts of brilliant later jokes. I’ve seen very few NZ comics manage this as well as Brendon did. These go beyond call-backs, into more arching narratives. And there were so many of them as to become dizzying in their genius.
If I was to level any criticism at Brendon it would be that sometimes it can take a bit long to get to the funny, with some minor edits this problem would vanish though.
The ending of the show is a wonderful emotional denouement. We reflect back on earlier gags to fully understand why he isn’t a nice guy. Each moment of the show, each statement has been carefully constructed revealing a depth of script writing that I haven’t yet witnessed this festival. Brendon doesn’t just do standup comedy, he performs it.