My interview with Guy began with him eyeing up Jamaine Ross' flyer, shaking his head slightly with envy at this feat of organisation. It doesn't strike me as Guy's style to have a flyer, what he'd write on it I'm not quite sure, which was clear by his slightly perplexed read of Jamaine's.
He's a truly charming gentleman, with an easy smile and laugh, that you find yourself quickly caught up in. This is evident in the permanent grins of audience members during his standup, where we find ourselves following a meandering train of thought with complete empathy.
Much of his showcase set was based on his highly relatable experiences of attempting to master social etiquette, which he proves in audience interactions he's now (sort of) proficient in. He's incredibly likeable.
As you read this interview, imagine an undertone of near-constant giggling. It was an entertaining ten minutes...
What can we expect from your show?
You can expect… sort of just a brain dump really. It’s a work in progress. There’ll be at least one story…
Will it be a good one?
Ideally yes, but it’s hard to say before time. It’s hard to say because I haven’t come so far along with it yet, but I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’m not too worried about it.
You were the hardest to research – I’ve seen you in Snort but I couldn’t find any of your standup on YouTube to be like, ‘Oh, so that’s what it’s like’, so I have no idea what to expect. And you don’t know either…
No, I don’t.
So...why did you get nominated?!
I don’t have answers to any of these questions! I don’t have any stuff online. I don’t think any of [my stand up] is really good enough to advertise my shows. Well, some of it probably is now, but I haven’t filmed any of it. So, people have to come and see it live to form an opinion.
Okay cool. So what’s the best gig you’ve ever done?
The best gig I ever did… good question. I should have really thought about these sorts of things before I met you.
You weren’t to know, but are you actually a comedian or…?
No, I just walked in here hoping to buy a beer and got accosted by all these people! I think I look like one of the nominees
Have you seen that YouTube video of the guy in the BBC thing that pretends to be an IT expert? You're like him!
Yeah, that is so fucking funny...! And you can see the moment where he’s like, ‘I just have to go for it’ and starts lying! It’s so funny.
What would you do in that situation?
I would just lie as well; once you make the decision that you’re going to lie about it you just commit. It’s their error – you’re not going to look bad – so just see how far you can take it. Ramp up the absurdity to 12.
So, I guess you’re doing that now! What’s the worst gig you’ve ever done? You can just make it up.
Okay. Pretty much - I wasn’t thinking very clearly at the time; it was to 120 people in a room in Toronto; I sort of was still finding my feet as a comedian and it was like being in a huge cavernous hole.
I was stumbling into not punch lines, just sort of half sentences. It was pretty rough. But then, I record all the shows I do and I listened back to it.
You managed to listen back to it?
Yeah, well you have to. Well actually, in the end the worst shows are the best shows because immediately afterwards I felt so awful and I sat down and wrote out everything I didn’t enjoy about the experience, like a huge page worth of stuff. You just think, ‘Well, I’ll never do any of that horrible stuff again’ and so I’ve been trying not to do any of that since then.
It’s so good you’re not crushed by that.
Well, to use a horrible sports metaphor, you learn more from a loss than a win, right? You’re forced to look at what went wrong rather than just patting yourself on the back.
Do you prefer improv or stand up?
I love improv, but I’m still learning. Whereas with standup I feel I’ve been working at it for longer so I’m more confident in stand up. I don’t think I could say I prefer one to the other.
But that they support each other?
Absolutely. I improvise a lot as a stand up. For a lot of the time last year I was going out without any material for like three months, just to try and get a confident stage persona.
Yeah I’d just go out and riff for like 10 or 15 minutes to try and force myself into those uncomfortable places. I find with stand up I can usually force myself into the zone on stage - with improv I haven’t reached the confidence level or competence level where I can force it to work. There’ll be nights where I’m doing improv where it feels like I can’t quite open up my entire brain, whereas I don’t get that with standup.
That’s a really nice way of putting it! Who’s the funniest person you know that’s not a comedian?
Probably my oldest friend Jono Gould? He’s a very good storyteller and we’ve built up so much time together we’re sort of operating on the same plane.
Do you ever steal his jokes?
No, I haven’t. He was telling a story about me to someone when I was there and he used a phrase which I then took, in fact, completely lifted.
What was the phrase?
At the time I was trying not to go in an ambulance… I’d collapsed from something – nothing untoward. Jono used the analogy that it was like the last guy on a Monday morning at a festival who just wouldn’t stop.
So when people hear that in the festival show now, I don’t have to say it that after the joke: it’s already accredited to Jono Gould.
Brilliant! When was the first time you found something funny, like laughed your head off?
I really want to think of something, but I can’t.
Were there any cartoons that you used to find really funny as a child?
Oh, well it certainly wasn’t the first time, but for whatever reason Keenan and Kel was one of the first shows I remember watching. I’d watch it by myself and I’d be laughing out loud, and it occurred to me when I was doing that, that I didn’t do that for a lot of other shows which I’d just laugh at with friends.
I was sitting at home after school one day watching Keenan and Kel and laughing – it was when they were in a miscommunication with the storeowner, Chris – and he said discombobulated and they…Yeah Keenan and Kel! There we go, I’ll just sully my name completely by volunteering the fact that I think Keenan and Kel was funny.
Do you have any preshow rituals?
No, I think that comes from the not doing material thing, so you just kind of go out - you’ve just got to get loose.
Who inspires you and your comedy?
My parents are actually both very funny. I didn’t realise until I was an older teenager. I had an inkling but it didn’t occur to me that they were outright funny. A lot of my speech patterns or certain elements of the way I speak are derived from my Dad who in turn I think took them from all the British guys from the 60s. So sort of quite understated sometimes. And then the comics I like are Norm McDonald, Simon Amstell and I like Ross Noble.
Yeah, he’s one my favourites!
Yeah I’d say he’s who I most closely resemble at the moment.
Oh okay cool, now I’ve got a picture in my head. So you’re very imaginative?
Your words not mine! I like the idea that sometimes you can’t tell what is just happening live and what’s the act that I already have ready.
Do you go on tangents?
Sounds great! What do you like about the other Billy T nominees’ comedy?
It’s quite diverse. I think everyone’s bringing their own respective strengths. I think mostly what I like is that it’s a pick and mix. So what might be a strength – what you think could be a strength – isn’t necessarily. That’s bad, that sounds bad…
I mean, what I’ll be the best at when I do stand up but I’ll be worse at other things that they’re the best at. You can’t necessarily be judged higher on the one thing that you’re really good at.
What was the first joke you wrote?
The first joke I wrote was about personalised license plates. I saw a license plate in traffic that said: ‘S’ ‘X’ ‘C’ ‘DAD’ – sexy Dad. This was before I actually started doing stand up, it was just the idea of trying to write a joke and I was imagining the guy in his house, looking in the mirror, being like, ‘People need to know about this’. Or if his wife maybe giving it to him like, ‘You deserve this’.
The punch line was – because they cost like $500 or whatever – a more cost-efficient way of broadcasting the same message would be just to spray-paint ‘I’m a fuckwit’ across the windshield.
Hey that was so good and that’s the first one you wrote!
Yeah, I haven’t done it since I don’t think the first two gigs maybe.
You should do it tonight and I’ll be the one that laughs
What a privilege to witness another Billy T nominee in the form of Guy Montgomery who ‘Presents a Succinct and Concise Summary of How He Feels About Certain Things’.
I did not realise he was part of the Cadbury Dream Factory team until an audience member yelled it out but I googled it, and sure enough he is. They do some great work that bunch. We also got to see him without a moustache, which was weird because his lip wig really frames his face well.
Guy Montgomery is a dynamic performer who really gets into it. He shouts and goes red, but is simultaneously succeeding in being hilarious. Beware those who like to have a chat or check their phone, not only are you being rude, but he will own you for it.
Throughout his show Guy Montgomery appears to be winging it, but that is all part of his observational and anecdotal style. He delves into some topics that I would have loved him to elaborate on, but it probably would have offended many of those in the crowd, especially those wearing suits. He touches on the downsides of being a non-smoker, and has some great advice on how to motivate joggers.
I don’t know if Guy is from Wellington, but he does have an intimate knowledge of the universal uniform of the hipster barista which led me to realise that baristas have been frequently popping up in comedians routines during this festival – are they studying their habits? Should they be worried?
Guy is a sports fan, and like any sports fan who dabbles in stand-up comedy, he had a hilariously unique take on the post game captain’s speech. It involved some philosophical introspection into the professionalism of modern sport. I mentioned that I thought he was from Wellington, and i may be wrong but he certainly dresses like he is. His shoes were like so retro, and I love what he does with a baggy denim shirt.
Guy’s routine is hard to describe, so best get down and sexily check him out. His show is at the Basement Theatre and I have said it thrice now, the Basement Theatre is hard-out the bomb, so go and see some kiwi comedy there. Choice.
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It exasperates me that I can't write the title of Guy Montgomery's show in the title of this R&R because it's too bloody long. "Guy Montgomery presents a succinct and concise summary of how he feels about certain things" is a perfect description of what I saw last night at the Basement though, so I can't fault him. That's the thing about Guy Montgomery, you can't fault him, you can't dislike him, you can't not laugh at him, and you cannot even begin to figure out what he planned and what happened accidentally. What I'm trying to say is that he's stupendous, he's a masterpiece.
The sold out crowd at his opening night bore witness to an hour-length comedy show that appeared to be made up on the spot. It was so effortlessly funny and occasionally absurd that it drew some of the biggest laughs I've heard this whole festival. The thing is though, appearing to be flying by the seat of his pants is Guy's unique style, but in reality he seems to have written a pair of wings into his own narrative in the past three months, and that's why he's flying.
He oscillates between genuine improv, elaborate, almost theatrical jokes and piercing social commentary - all delivered in his laid back, careless style - as if he just got out of bed in time to make the beginning of the show. He nailed the whole thing, whether waxing lyrical about the disease of "being busy", imagining a Kingsland flat filled with Gods, or knocking over the mike stand. He made self-aware jokes about the art of comedy that gave us an insight into just how much thought he'd put into it, and yet he seemed genuinely shocked that so many people had paid money to see him, as if the joke was really on us for believing he was legit.
It's really hard to tell if it was a perfect, considered act or if it was just Guy being Guy. Personally I want to think of the real Guy Montgomery as the ghost in the machine, gleefully and skilfully manipulating his audiences into paroxysms of laughter, but in truth it could be that Guy Montgomery is just a really funny dude who's laughing at me for over-analysing something so simple. Regardless, getting a glimpse inside his head for an hour was beyond hilarious, and I think you should all go and see for yourself.
He jitterbugs on to the Fringe Bar's small stage, makes like a creepy stalker and goes on to variously characterise himself, throughout his hour, as lovely, a wild dog and Captain Cool. What with all his winningly self-aware riffing and scatting in Jazz comedy style, it's up to us to work out who or what Guy Montgomery really is and how much is as spontaneous as it seems.
Curiosity leads him to riff on the Encyclopaedia industry. Contemplating God and his flatmates leads to a revelation of how natural disasters happen. His love of sport focuses on post-match interviews. There are riffs on carbohydrates, Wellington, time and job titles.
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Lord Sutch - Ruminator.co.nz'I’ve always thought successful comedy can be one of two things, taking an existing idea and subverting it or doing some completely original. Unbelievably Guy manages both in the one show... 'open/close
So I’d never heard of Guy Montgomery. Apparently he was a host on U-late. I don’t even know what U-late is. He’s also on Cadbury Dream Factory. Again that’s not something I’m familiar with.What I’m trying to say is Guy’s already a thing. He’s got a fan base. He also does a podcast with fellow Billy T nominee Tim Batt. So even without stand-up comedy he’s a guy (ha) on the rise. However if he didn’t have all those strings in his bow I think he’d be on the rise anyway because he is a supremely gifted comic.
I only reviewed this show because Tim magnanimously asked me to. And I’m so pleased I did. It’s the best Billy T nominated show I’ve seen since Steve Wrigley destroyed all else before him a number of years ago.
Guy dances his way on stage at the beginning and based on his white-guy dance moves I thought I was going to hear a lad-comedian tell jokes about bitches and getting drunk. Instead we get the most brilliant surreal stories, meta-references to his own material, awkward pregnant pauses and an over-abundance of callbacks.
Guy does the Kiwi self-effacing thing well. We’re congratulated on making an OK choice of spending an hour with him, he downplays his own abilities and successes throughout life and it makes the crowd empathise with him. Sometimes he over-uses it as a device when it’s not necessary. He hits some real high notes with a lot of gags, then injects a self-deprecating comment in as a caveat which stifles the laughter and sometimes jars us out of his surreal world. Other times he might be too clever by half, he constantly uses call-backs to earlier stories (being aware of using a call-back and pointing it out to the crowd doesn’t make it funnier it just means you’re aware of how comedy works). But these are minor quibbles because the guy is seriously funny.
Surrealism is super hard to do. You have to first gain the audience’s trust, then bring them on an adventure with you, all the way making the crowd feel comfortable that you know what you’re doing. Guy handles this with aplomb. We accept ridiculous implausibilities as though they were part of our every day world and we fucking laugh. There was some audience interaction which got awkward because …well sometimes the audience doesn’t play along. However Guy ran with it and handled it perfectly.
I’ve always thought successful comedy can be one of two things, taking an existing idea and subverting it or doing some completely original. Unbelievably Guy manages both in the one show. It’s a rare gift and is made all the more remarkable that Guy’s not been doing stand-up that long. He does the most brilliant take on religion, that doesn’t offend a soul. In fact his whole set is mercifully free of anything remotely offensive that seems to have become hip and cool these days.
His scripting and delivery are quite unique. He uses words in a way that isn’t quite 100% natural, if you’ve watched Deadwood you’ll know what I mean. You understand perfectly what’s being said, it’s just delivered in a way that you would never do so yourself. There is also a touch of the nihilist about him, every now and again the material hints at something darker lurking below the surface and I’d love to see Guy explore this in further shows.
Basically what I’m saying is that this show is brilliant. Utterly brilliant. And if you don’t go to it, well you’re a dick. Oh and forgive the revolting pedo-mo. As my wife said, if you can get past that he’s quite a nice looking boy.
Matt Baker - Theatrescenes.co.nz'Montgomery’s physical looseness and nonchalant attitude curb his Will Ferrell-esque absurdity with an affable New Zealand exterior, giving him accessibility to the full demographic of his quite diverse audience...'open/close
skills have been proven time and time again, both in Snort and Kiwi Heroes. His dexterous vocabulary allows for a seemingly endless combination of ludicrous analogies, metaphors, and scenarios, both as participant and host respectively. It’s a fundamental comedic skill, but not one easily executed by all. Montgomery, however, seems to have an endless array of words and phrases stockpiled for any situation.
There only appear to be a handful of ‘bits’ in Montgomery’s solo show, with the majority of the hour padded out with apparent riffs on random thought processes or rhetorical dialogues with the audience. That could, however, be part of a tightly constructed act which is simply impossible to deconstruct. While there’s a certain rhythm Montgomery falls into when creating a specific scenario in which he’s going to delve, it seems almost impossible that someone could hold an entire audience’s attention for the remaining 30-minutes off-the-cuff. Either way, there is an extremity to Montgomery’s style that separates him from other New Zealand comedians and has earned him the reputable title of Billy T Award nominee.
The few scenarios Montgomery constructs, sometimes through association, other times through ostensibly random tangents, play out like a sketch television show, with the odd call back loosely linking things together. One set up in particular, has all the ingredients for a potential web-series – the precisely unspecific title of the show is indeed apt. Montgomery’s physical looseness and nonchalant attitude curb his Will Ferrell-esque absurdity with an affable New Zealand exterior, giving him accessibility to the full demographic of his quite diverse audience. For a mad-cap hour of hilarity, this is a show you will not want to miss.
Guy Montgomery, a 2014 Billy T nom, presents A succinct & concise summary of how he feels about certain things, a hilarious collection of observations and musings. Montgomery has a dry, witty style and is clearly a competent performer who has an easy stage presence. The audience is instantly charmed by the familiar nostalgia of his persona, somewhat reminiscent of a 70s Kiwi male with obligatory moustache attached, but with all the cultural relevance of a 20-something in 2014.
Montgomery has the rare gift of intuitive timing and delivery which inspires the quick adoration of his audience. He also has the ability, shared by most good performers, of giving the impression that every line is delivered off-the-cuff, which lends a relaxed and dynamic quality to the show.
The dual quality of being a young unassuming male very heavily situated in his cultural context, combined with a certain level more timeless remove from and cynical reflection on life has a particular resonance with a kiwi audience, particularly a youthful one. I thought the show might have benefitted from a bit more direction, but this of course could be a matter of taste. I still found myself laughing at every line.
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