In brief: two very different comedians worth catching on their way up.
Some people tell funny. Some people have funny bones. Last week in the Basement Studio there are terrific examples of both kinds of comedian. Eli Matthewson has terrific material. You just have to look at Hamish Parkinson and you start to laugh.
Parkinson was up first in FLY OR DIE, a suitably extreme title for a comedian for whom the stakes are kept relentlessly high. His comic persona is so nervous about the show that it takes him five minutes (more?) to get up the courage to even talk in the microphone. Hell, his comic persona is so low status he knocks on the door of his own show and needs to be let in by the audience. With his big puppy dog eyes – not a pedigree – more a clued-up desperate brindle hoping for adoption at the SPCA, he invites, begs, the audience to laugh: not with him, but at him. He warmed up the audience with physical exuberance and jokes, yes, but also because he made us feel so damn good about ourselves. Even if in his world we were all unrequitedly fancying each other, and not him. Now and again the pace dropped between bits and the ending felt not so strong as it could have been. He vanished and the Basement staff had to tell us to go. It felt as if he had lost his balls, which was a shame as he had quite literally proven seconds before that he had them. Parkinson is good though. He can tell a story without saying a word, and even if the last dog bit is a bit odd, he should let the audience applaud him, with or without his undies . . .
Where Parkinson may imply that his parents are so uninterested that they not only don’t turn up, but keep interrupting his show with IT questions, Eli Matthewson’s Dad was in the audience, and kept getting the piss taken out of him. The show is about Matthewson’s upbringing as a gay boy with four sisters in a devout Christian household. It is full of brilliant moments and a glorious insight into how the better half lives. On the other hand, if the power of prayer will get you a parking space at Westfield then perhaps we shouldn’t knock it. Matthewson is super sharp taking volleys not just at Christians, but ISIS, housing prices, and Sylvanian families. When Matthewson is funny you’re not laughing at him, but with him, about something or someone else. He is always charming, but he skewers his targets. He is one of the edgier young comedians out there and one to watch.
Hamish Parkinson's Fly or Die
Eli Matthewson's Faith
12th -16th May
The Basement Theatre
NZ International Comedy Festival