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May 8, 2017 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

In Which Two People Lose All Hope

There is something symbolic, perhaps poetic, about comedy shows. A place people come to for no other point than to laugh. And in these trying times, perhaps a bit of comedy would be just the ticket. But I am not a person who goes to specific places to laugh. I find humour in the small things, like a man in a suit tripping on one of the many bricks down Lambton Quay and swearing into his phone, or a well timed phallus joke at some bullshit said on the TV. These moments bring me great pleasure, no matter how childish it may seem.

Unfortunately, the Raw Comedy Quest had none of these moments. From the get go, I was heavily poised against it. Amateur comedy? How can someone be amateur at making others laugh? Surely such a thing is a travesty against man itself.

So armed with press passes, we entered into that most hallowed of places, the sanctuary of Cuba Street, San Fran.

The lady stamping hands immediately made a comment about how she was looking forward to seeing our review. I have no words for how heavily I must apologise to her in advance. Please do not let the terrible choice of reviewer impact your decision to let someone come next year.

The MC brims confidence. It’s clear he’s stood in front of audiences before. He’s got a rapport going with a few patrons in the front row, laughing about where they’re from. Good times for them I’m sure. Some people laugh at a joke about the Hutt (he keeps coming back to it though), before introducing the format: eight contestants, seven minutes a piece, with a prestigious Billy T Award winner closing out the night. I can barely hold my excitement, I’m bursting at the seams. Unfortunately the feeling is completely gone by the time I’ve left the loo.

The first act I honestly can’t remember that well. He was tall I think? The only thing I’ve got written down in my notes is:


Act 1: Rob: Not really that funny.

Brigid: I’ve gotta pee, he’s not worth waiting for. [Probably the most honest review].


I remember the second act well, and that’s only because of how conflicted I was. The moment I saw her emerge with an accordion, I ordered another drink. Truly, an abomination of an instrument. Squish me for noise. No thank you.

But accordion woman is kind of funny, in the sense that white old men legislating about vaginas is always going to get a few laughs, because if you don’t laugh you’ll cry and hey, she’s got an accordion.

Act three — tall white guy — tries to make ironic white privilege jokes and gets a few laughs, but it’s a bit old and awkward. The fact that he looks eerily similar to the guy Brigid lost her virginity to adds a whole other level of uncomfortable attraction, as white tall ~comedy~ guy seemed nearly as sexist as white tall ~teenage dream~ guy (but not quite).

Act four? Was there an act four? All I have written down is SOLID STATE. I think he made technology jokes in a manner that suggested he’d been watching a lot of The IT Crowd.

Act five was forgettable. And I don’t mean just because he was boring; it was more that we literally cannot remember anything about this mysterious fifth act. In his slot, Brigid was harassed at the bar (“NICE TITS”) and I pissed, again. This is the point of about the fourth G&T, after which things get even more hazy.

My notes have become jumbled. I’ve stopped marking down which act is on at a certain time. In any case, they can’t have mattered because accordion woman won the whole thing. So, here’s a selection of my hastily scrawled notes as compensation:


“We drunk before the event in anticipation, but we’re on round three, despite the 18 dollar price tag per round. (Clearly there is desperation). (An appropriate point to mention that Rob is loaded w/ ca$h). If we drink enough, perhaps by the final act we might find a joke funny. I’m not positive though, we found the mere act of vaping in public funnier than anything else, the distinctly apple tinge my metallic tube offered us was more comedic than anything else. I look for support from other patrons. I find none. We are alone in this endeavour. There is no hope. This is what my life has become, reviewing comedic competitions. The fact the ticketing person said she expected a good review hangs over my head. I have a primordial fear of disappointing people, but this is a promise I don’t believe I can live up to. (Daddy issues are Rob’s alone).”

“Middle aged lady screams at Robert Muldoon joke. Honestly the best laugh I’ve had all night.”

“I’ve bitten all my nails off.”

“Tim Shadbolt mentioned. Evening on an up. H Y P E POOP JOKES THIS MY LEVEL OF HUMOUR. An inbred joke? I’M FUCKING ON IT.”

(We conclude, post gig, that the Rob Muldoon/Tim Shadbolt jokes must have been the MC. The acts are all shiny-faced babies who are probably not allowed to fly to Invercargill unaccompanied.)

“I take my glasses off. Vision is no longer necessary. Someone from Dunedin screams. In my head I’m screaming. The pain doesn’t stop. The final act is ready. I’m ready for death.”


Bachelor jokes, somewhere. Act six? They aren’t good. And I’m the biggest Bachelor fan in the world so that’s a pretty big let down. How will I go about my day knowing that someone made a joke about what is easily the funniest topic in New Zealand media, and still flubbed it?

Act seven, bb Onslow, talks about NCEA and acne. His mum is in the audience and he makes a fat joke about her. Is he funny? Maybe. Are we too drunk to be judging a seventeen-year old’s jokes? Yeah. Then again, that bad boy has his restricted license, while Brigid only has her learners. So I mean, from that standpoint he’s clearly better than us. Sad realisation that one.

Who was on last? I remember a comment about Starbucks in there somewhere, and I judged their choice of coffee. You’re in Wellington for fuckssake, the only thing people can agree on down here is coffee, and you still manage to pick the absolute worst option.

Perhaps most disappointing was the Billy T winner. I held out some hope that a well rehearsed, timely comedy set would be here soon, and yet somehow his entire act seemed to center around his own somewhat different vocal tone. It was eye opening though — comedy clearly isn’t easy.

So what’s my final verdict? I guess it was funny, a lot of people laughed, and who am I to mock their sense of humour? Just because I’m dead inside doesn’t mean they have to be. And at the end of the day, I suppose I had fun, perhaps just in a way that wasn’t intended. I had a laugh, mostly at myself. What are we even trying to prove with this “review”? That we’re somehow better than an amateur comedy show? To begin with, that’s a ridiculous premise, plus these people had the guts to stand up in front of assholes like Brigid and Rob and attempt to make us laugh. They deserve every modicum of respect they get.



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