Nominated for the Billy T award for 2013, Eli's certainly got the pressure of expectation on his shoulders.
But, my goodness, doesn't he carry it well?
This self-assured, extremely confident and utterly impressive young comedian (he's hit 25) brought his autobiographical show to the Basement Theatre.
Proposition: Great! takes a look at Eli's life growing up in Christchurch, coming out and getting to grips with a quarter life crisis. But the themes are universal - self awareness, self acceptance and ultimately self happiness.
Eli manages to bring to the table a wisdom beyond his years, a cheeky and rapid fire quick wit (in among some smut) and an intelligence which is borderline genius. He's also got the timing of some of his lines down to perfection, knowing when to read the crowd and when to deliver the killer blow. Not all of his young ilk have mastered that yet to be honest, but Eli shows comedy chops beyond his years.
While the show predominantly concentrates on his own identity and the journey to that, you can be sure that stories of awkwardness with the opposite sex and obsessions with films are ones everyone will recognise. Throwing in some theatrical flair and a lot of performance punch, Eli's show is one which never stops surprising, entertaining and amusing. A few side lines and quick throwaway comments show he's constantly thinking on his feet and he emerges with a strong sense of comic identity and the ability to keep a crowd interested and engaged throughout.
A wonderful wrong-footing of the audience pervades the finale and with some Jurassic Park style mimicry to rival even Rhys Darby's own dino impressions, there's a real sense that this comic is an extremely rising star.
Nominated for this year's Billy T Award, I'd suggest Eli is a very, very strong contender - with his clever play on stereotypes and the usual anecdotes and an honesty which makes him extremely approachable and watchable, you'd be wise to place some money on this guy crossing the finish line first come the Last Laughs closing night on May 19th.
This week the full programme of the NZ International Comedy Festival 2013 was released and in celebration we were treated to one hell of a showcase introducing this years Billy T nominees at Billy T James, Q Theatre. Rose Matafeo , Eli Matthewson, Pax, Tom Furniss and Joseph Moore each gave us a ten minute peek of their upcoming shows.
New Zealand Comedy Trust created the annual Billy T Award to support up-and-coming comedians and take their comedy career to the next level.
These final five nominees for the 2013 Billy T Award were selected on their proven comedic ability, talent, dedication, current form and potential, and will be judged on all aspects of their 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival show.
The night was hosted by Steve Wrigley and Ben Hurley whose well honed banter warmed up the audience and got us in the festival mood.
With the daunting task of being first up was Pax, but this energetic comedian had brilliant material that made for a more than great start to the show. He’s a confident stand-up, and totally belongs behind a microphone as he confronted the audience with race, sex and uncontrollable accents!
Rose Matafeo brought a change in pace with her more understated brand of comedy. Even her crowd hype had an ‘anticlimax’ as she monotoned through her self deprecating material. She is a bright funny stand-up and a great representative for young female comics and cat cardigans.
Tom Furniss finished up the second half by telling us that his good year has resulted in less material, leading him to read us the diary of 16 year old Gordon from 1984. This result is various boyhood stories culminating in the drawing lady parts. He’s a more surreal comedian with a clever set which may encourage some anarchic behaviour.
Starting the second half of the show was Joseph Moore who gave a slick and well rehearsed set with a hilarious insight to the effects of ‘that’ Countdown music. As an experienced actor and performer there was no hint of nerves in this polished performance. This will be Joseph’s first solo show where you can expect quick witted and silly observations.
Last up was Eli Mattewson, a butter wouldn’t melt looking guy with edgy material to make your mum blush. Fresh from a run at last years Edinburgh Fringe there’s a lot of buzz around him and he didn’t disappoint He’s a strong performer who revelled in the audiences enthusiasm. His risqué material may have shocked more as it comes from such a sweet looking young man. A strong comedy talent who will no doubt have many more tricks up his sleeve.
To close off the evening was last years Billy T Winner, the wonderful Guy Williams. He really is a treasure of New Zealand comedy who tackled the silly and surreal in his calm and collected routine. He seems well and truly ready to pass on the baton to the next rising star as he has definitely earned his stripes.
This was an evening to be proud of as these young comedians who have shown that the high quality of our up-and-coming comedy talent is not to be ignored!
Lots of male comedians spend their time on stage talking about their failures with women, and trying to get them in to bed. Eli talks about the exact opposite, how to avoid sleeping with a member of the opposite sex.
Announcing at the start of the show that he is gay this Billy T Nominee starts his autobiographical tale. He is so instantly likable and performs with friendly warmth to his audience.
Proposition: Great! explores his adolescence’s and night clubbing escapades in Christchurch. After eventually taking the hint from a computer game he finally comes out aged 21.
Showing off all his drama school skills he throws in acting and singing into the mix. The rest of the show is essentially a love letter. A love letter to his boyfriend, himself and all of us. The message of this show is be yourself and love who you are. That’s a pretty good message to walk out of a comedy show with.
Eli gives an honest and open performance with some wonderful anecdotes of uncomfortable sexuality, stereotypes and prejudice. Including his own.
The theme works well but I felt that the second half of the show is where it really took off and where the material felt truly genuine. This is a heart on your sleeve piece and it works really well with such a talented story teller who you really do feel you get to know. This is his first stand up show so I really expect him to grow during the run of this show.
Following Proposition: Great! you may love the world a little more but I’m sure you will have fallen head over heels for Eli.