When attending a comedy show you might expect to laugh till you cry, you could also be excused for thinking it appropriate to cry with laughter, but a very odd thing happened at the Herald Theatre this evening when international comedian Tom Wrigglesworth made us laugh (and oh how we laughed) and then, he made us cry! As I left the theatre, wiping away a well earned tear, it was plain to see that the majority of the audience felt the same way. We had in fact been duped into watching an extremely well developed and emotionally charged piece of theatre, disguised as a comedy show…..but we certainly weren’t complaining!
‘Tom Wrigglesworth – Utterly at odds with the universe’ runs until Saturday the 10th of May and if not well on its way already, word of mouth alone may well sell this season out.
Wrigglesworth seems fantastically relaxed and at home on stage. Dressed as if from another era he has a calmness about him that demands attention effortlessly, accompanied with the ability to string together a whimsically intoxicating line of prose. Although opening night technical difficulties with an imported headset mic threw him slightly he was easily forgiven by the smitten audience and as Wrigglesworth said himself “At least you know it’s live!”
The show is skilfully centred on interviews with his grandfather- this interview in particular; what he did on his summer holiday. As the story progresses, Wrigglesworth learns life lessons and flirts with the interpretation of rules. He discusses the importance of personal bests, good suits, the best way to land and fixing mistakes all while reflecting on the sage advice handed down by his grandfather.
Wrigglesworth is a wordsmith, perhaps one of a kind and hopefully not of a dying breed. To blatantly steal from the show ‘Anyone can get a world record, but only you can get a personal best’, so use this opportunity to get your personal best for ‘the number of times you’ve cried at a comedy show’ by getting in this audience. My only advice to you is – be quick!
Utterly at Odds With the Universe is a bit of a morbid name for a comedy show, I thought, as I walked into Tom Wrigglesworth’s opening night at the Herald Theatre. I wasn’t completely wrong, there were some heartbreaking moments - but it was probably those moments that made me love it so much. Light seems brighter when it comes from a dark place. This was the first show in the Festival that I've loved - it was more than pure enjoyment, I was emotionally invested.
The show is about Wrigglesworth’s grandfather, or more specifically, their relationship. If it was a movie it would be one of those heartwarming ones that make you laugh and cry and feel filled with hope at the essential goodness of humanity. To see it played out live on stage by an extremely tall gentleman in a wacky coat made the experience all the more rich. It felt like interactive storytelling, because Wrigglesworth’s effortless, conversational delivery made me feel as if I were an integral part of the journey.
There wasn’t a dull moment, regardless of whether he was explaining his ignominious arrival to a cocktail bar in Dubai or talking to his grandfather in a hospital ward about something as trivial as traffic. It’s one of the only comedy shows I’ve come across that perfectly combines the art of great storytelling with hilarious observation and a good dollop of nostalgia. I laughed the hardest I have at this whole Festival, and I wanted to find Tom Wrigglesworth after the show and be his buddy.
If you’ve been waiting to hear what the pick of the Festival is, this is the one. Hurry, I'll be amazed if it doesn't sell out.
Dan Rutledge - TV3news.co.nz'Here's a tip: listen closely to the audio that is played right at the beginning of the show, before Wrigglesworth even appears. Don't be finishing up a text message or real human conversation, shut up and listen and you'll appreciate the whole show a little bit more...'open/close
Tom Wrigglesworth's show at this year's comedy festival is not really comedy.
Sure, it's frequently hilarious and looks on the surface similar to several of the other comedy shows on this year's line-up, but it's a more unique, moving and clever piece of poetic storytelling than every other show I've seen so far.
Utterly at Odds with the Universe is, primarily, Wrigglesworth's loving goodbye to his late grandfather. But it's not nearly as sombre or self-indulgent as that may sound. It's a highly entertaining story that will appeal not only to anyone that's had a great relationship with a grandparent, but anyone who has had a great relationship with any other person at all.
Wrigglesworth's demeanor is that of the classic eccentric English funnyman and a lot of his performance comes across as shambolic. It's not. He's a brilliant performer and his performance is a lot more theatrical than it appears at first.
He delivers loads of intelligent jokes you may have to think about for a moment before getting them, along with a few about testicles, the surname Cockburn and falling over.
Some of the language he uses to describe the more privileged members of society or people who are trying to become more privileged members of society, will offend those people. Everyone else will love it, unless perhaps they have a loved one working in Dubai.
Wrigglesworth and his grandfather's penchant for achieving personal bests is a delightful recurring topic, as is the old boy's passion for fixing stuff up. A dinner with some particularly posh types and a visit to a particularly posh Dubai bar also make for highlights of the show.
The best bit is definitely left for last, however, and I shan't give it away here.
Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/Tom-Wrigglesworths-Utterly-at-Odds-with-the-Universe-review/tabid/418/articleID/343221/Default.aspx#ixzz3155ULPZ9
Johnny Givins - Theatreview.org.nz'Winner of NZ International Festival Best International Act in 2010, Tom Wrigglesworth returns with an astonishing, well written and bitter sweet script that breaks new boundaries in the stand-up form...'open/close
Stand-up is the most heroic of solo performances. On stage with only a microphone, your talent, an audience – it lays bare the soul of performer when it does not go according to plan. Opening night for Tom Wrigglesworth has a couple of those moments. His radio microphone has a couple of splutters and silent spots, going mute just as he delivers a great punch line! Bugger!! It is opening night in a new town with a week of shows to fulfil. He is sweating!
However the comedy soul of Tom Wigglesworth is strong, glowing, and honest with a great story to tell. The audience bonds with the performer and in our good Kiwi manner we don't stress. Born in Sheffield, Tom, I am sure, thinks it is a disaster. The Audience doesn't!
Winner of NZ International Festival Best International Act in 2010, Tom Wrigglesworth returns with an astonishing, well written and bitter sweet script that breaks new boundaries in the stand-up format.
Utterly at Odds with the Universe is the honest recollection of his relationship with his beloved grandfather. It starts with a cassette recording of Tom's interview with his grandfather at age 6. The stories are events from Tom's growing up with his grandfather: a man who could fix anything with the right tool and had a shed full of them. He introduces Tom to a life time of recording Personal Bests; “Anyone can get a world record, only you can get a personal best.” Tom's personal bests are unusual and, overall, funny. His relationship with his granddad is filled with affection and Yorkshire understatements.
The great script's images, gags and events keep reappearing later in the act to reinforce other stories. They weave a bitter sweet comedy touching on youth, growing up, travel, married life, and of course sex. He also enters that dangerous territory for comedy – death – but survives with some “aughs” and laughs. He involves us in the relationship so when it changes we are with him. His emotional truth resonates with the full house audience.
This is not a stand-up full of gags although there are some very funny moments and hilarious situations. It is sophisticated humour and quite different from other shows in the Festival.
Read more here:
Liam Golds - KeepingupwithNZ.com'5 Stars - erbose and witty, he crafts such strong images with words that it’s hard not to get lost in his stories. The way one posh dinner guest tries to suck his words back into his mouth after every sentence, or the penguin manning the AC in Dubai. He has a strong imagination that pays off in a show that emphasizes storytelling over punch lines... 'open/close
Tom Wrigglesworth, winner of the Best International Show at the NZ International Comedy Fest 2010, returns to our shores with his new show Utterly at Odds with the Universe and a faulty microphone. I’m sure the mic will be ditched, I just hope he keeps everything else. This show is fantastic.
The show is an examination of his relationship with grandfather Wrigglesworth, who passed away last year. Tom introduces himself through recorded interviews the pair made when he was a child. Using them as a springboard, he runs down memory lane, cataloging the various mishaps the two of them got into. His more recent adventures in Dubai follow, just as his grandfather was admitted to hospital.
Verbose and witty, he crafts such strong images with words that it’s hard not to get lost in his stories. The way one posh dinner guest tries to suck his words back into his mouth after every sentence, or the penguin manning the AC in Dubai. He has a strong imagination that pays off in a show that emphasizes storytelling over punch lines. He’s even kind enough to localize some of his references for a Kiwi audience, trading out British politicians for the likes of Winston Peters and Judith Collins.
Tom Wrigglesworth is truly funny. He is still the sort of comedian who can take a lengthy detour to examine how the laws of physics impact gay romance. However this show allows room for more dramatic moments. It’s not surprising, this is about his deceased grandfather after all, but don’t be shocked if those around you need to break out the hankies towards the end. Comedy is a fine way to mourn.
Read more here:
Lord Sutch - Ruminator.co.nz'Honestly, this is one of the great all time festival shows I’ve seen. People literally laughed and cried. We all walked out satisfied and delighted. He truly is a comic gem...'open/close
So Tom Wrigglesworth was here a few years ago (2010 in fact, damn time marches on) and he constructed an entire one hour show based on a short story of a thing that happened to him on a train. I went and saw it and was struck by how good a storyteller he was and how he was able to weave ‘gags’ into his stories so effortlessly that the hour flew by. He’s gotten better.
Last night, in his show Utterly at Odds with the Universe, Tom presents us with a history of his relationship with his grandfather. He used to tape-record interviews with his grandfather where he’d ask him what it was like to be old and so forth. This was done in the 80s when Tom was just a wee fella. The show flashes between Tom’s youth and more recent adventures as Tom blunders his way through life.
The man is a genius. His storytelling is second-to-none. He largely does away with the setup-punchline style joke and just weaves beautiful narratives, using language just a half-step removed from normal everyday speech. This keeps the audience onboard but makes hilarity out of mundanity.
By having flashbacks in his show, Tom is able to utilise a well-worn trope of comedy: nostalgia. The audience loves nostalgia. We love hearing about things we recognise from the past. Tom doesn’t over-exploit this device, but rather uses it to within an inch of perfection. He also stretches his elastic body to twist and contort and wring laughter out of the crowd through physical comedy as well.
His device of having a small nugget of each anecdote in the following one is very clever, though it can become predictable once it becomes clear he does it every time. But this does not in any way detract from the show. Tom Wrigglesworth is a modern-day bard. A spoken-word minstrel who weaves us through his life, always making us laugh, keeping us entertained then hitting us with a massive emotional wallop.
It’s hard to write this review because it was just that good. So here are some of the notes I took:
Such a warm story teller
Cleverly runs this, that and the other parts together and around
He varies tone, pitch and timing perfectly
Mixes emotional warmth and humour
It’s just lovely
Just fucking brilliant
Honestly, this is one of the great all time festival shows I’ve seen. People literally laughed and cried. We all walked out satisfied and delighted. He truly is a comic gem.
As soon as you enter the Herald Theatre, you notice something different about Tom Wrigglesworth’s show, as a set, however small, is not common in a comedy festival. A rug, an armchair, a side table, a discreet green bag, and a cassette recorder is all that is needed to immediately provide a sense of comfortable familiarity. Add to this an audio track introduction of seven-year-old Tom interviewing his grandfather, and the tone of the show is set before Wrigglesworth even enters on stage.
Wrigglesworth has a great grasp of storytelling, and arouses beautiful imagery with poetic descriptions in a similar vein to Dylan Thomas’ Under Milkwood. His ability to not only place certain pictures in the audiences’ mind, but also to call back on them to evoke catharsis, is an unparalleled skill in not only comedy, but also in writing itself. During the last third of his set, it’s impossible not to see that Wrigglesworth’s anecdotal scenarios and hilarious observations are constantly linking back to an inevitable conclusion, but it doesn’t prevent his coup de grâce from hitting home, and, in those final moments, the humour and humanity become more than the sum of their parts.
While it’s common for the new generation of comedians to present their material in a structure that’s based around a particular theme, Wrigglesworth has found one that resonates for his entire audience – there were more than a few resounding “ah’s” of recognition throughout the night. Anyone who understands the unique relationship between grandparent and grandchild should see this show.
Paul Downham - Salfordonline.com'5 Stars - It’s not often that you walk out from a stand up comedy gig with tears of sorrow streaming down your face despite spending the last 90 minutes crying with laughter...'open/close
It’s not often that you walk out from a stand up comedy gig with tears of sorrow streaming down your face despite spending the last 90 minutes crying with laughter. This was the case last night at The Lowry purely due to a master class of storytelling by Tom Wrigglesworth with his latest show Utterly at Odds with the Universe.
Throughout the evening Wrigglesworth reminisces with great affection about his Grandfather of whom it is clear Tom held in such high regard. Tom as a child used to record interviews with his Grandfather on cassette tapes, and snippets of these interviews provide the opening to the show.
It is clear as the show progresses that whenever Wrigglesworth wanted to know or learn something as a child he turned to his always suited Grandparent. From fixing bedroom ceilings to learning to drive. The main drive of the evening centres on his first holiday to Dubai which somewhat tragically coincided with his Grandfather going into hospital. The descriptive prowess of the host was particularly evident whilst recalling conversations that had taken place in the hospital along with his recollection of a posh charity dinner he was booked to speak at.
During the second half something magical takes place and the evening shifts from a more traditional stance taking on a dramatic twist and a strong theatrical guise.
Wrigglesworth a nominee for the 2009 Edinburgh Comedy Awards held the audience in the palm of his hands during the entire performance. Despite some seemingly random stories they are always threaded back into the cleverly into the show. This reviewer just wishes that he’d taken a tissue or two!
The first part of the hour sees Wrigglesworth talk about the relationship he has with his granddad, someone for whom it is clear he has a deep affection and someone he always turned to for advice when he was younger. The stories of the two achieving ‘personal bests ‘strike a lovely mix, being both heart-warming and funny. It is a feature which appears to great effect throughout the hour.
The set is mainly centred on this relationship but also focusses on a recent holiday the comedian took to Dubai and a posh dinner party he was invited to speak at. His description of the party and the characters he encountered is particularly hilarious, with the experience providing a huge amount of material for Wrigglesworth to draw upon.
We are vividly sucked in to the stories he tells, although it is interrupted and slowed down at times by the fact that much of what he references is quintessentially British, therefore requiring Wrigglesworth to deliver a New Zealand equivalent to make it funny to his predominantly local audience. So the names of Judith Collins, Paula Bennett and Winston Peters are dropped in to give the requisite relatable element to some of the stories he brings to life.
He delivers an amusing aside about Gillette Soccer Saturday, a popular sports program back in the UK which I am familiar with from my time there, but which sadly goes over the heads of the rest of the audience on this opening night.
Wrigglesworth nonetheless tells stories with such grace and skill that no matter the subject, it is a delight to listen to and frequently brings a smile to the face. There are more than enough laughs throughout the hour, with the sharp delivery and affable nature of the performer getting the audience onside very early on and keeping them engaged for the majority of the hour.
The emotional ending strikes a nerve, and for the first time ever in a comedy show, leaves me weeping with sadness. After a hearty hour of laughter, it certainly catches me by surprise but goes to show the effect of the performance. For anyone who has or has had a close relationship with a grandparent, this is a show which will resonate and delight in equal measure.