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Comedy Fest reviews: Guy Williams and Lucy Roche tackle sex and politics

Sam Brooks’ take on two NZ International Comedy Festival shows that debuted in Auckland over the weekend: Ubiquitous funnyman Guy Williams and Wellington newcomer and 2016 RAW Comedy Quest winner Lucy Roche.

Lucy Roche: Dollars and Sex

One of the highlights of Last Laughs last year was watching an audience of eight hundred people react to RAW Comedy winner Lucy Roche doing a set and trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Is she making this up? Is she for real? Is this a character?

At the start of her hour, Lucy Roche makes it clear that she is for real. She is a sex worker. She does not fit into the prescribed narrative the audience might have for sex workers. Roche spends the next hour riffing on this, with a persona that recalls the cute-abrasive stylings of Sarah Silverman and Lou Sanders.

Roche has some gems in her hour, and the kernels of some truly great jokes as well, but she tends to run over her punchlines as a performer and the connecting material isn’t there. There’s a limit to how much mileage a performer can get out of the cute-abrasive thing, for the first fifteen minutes the persona provides enough laughs to keep the audience engaged and enthused, but beyond that the jokes aren’t hitting hard enough and the set deflates. By the end of the set, Roche shrugs herself offstage, and the audience feels much the same way.

Roche has huge potential, what her hour shows is that there’s a lot of material not only to be taken from her life, but from her particular take on her life. Comedy hasn’t seen someone like Lucy Roche, and there’s the seeds of something here that make me want to see what she does next year.

You can book tickets to Lucy Roche in Wellington here.

Guy Williams: Why Am I Like This

In 2017, people are probably most familiar with Guy Williams as a personality than as a stand-up. You’ve heard him on the Edge. You’ve seen him on Jono and Ben. He pops up here and there. It can be easy to forget that he’s a Billy T-award winning comedian, and that he’s bloody good at it.

I’ve somehow never seen Guy Williams do an hour of stand-up, usually his hours sell out pretty immediately, but he brings the loud charm that he has onscreen to his stand-up. He comes out onstage to an obscure Bollywood song, he breaks a few instruments and then starts in.

What’s most incredible and amazing about Williams is his rapport with the audience. This is a sell-out crowd who wants to see that loud guy from TV talk for an hour, and Williams takes a genuine glee from bringing the audience into a persona that is subtly, and noticeably, different from that one. It’s the kind of glee that you might expect to be missing from a performer as experienced as Williams is, and it’s endlessly appealing to see that it isn’t missing.

When it comes to someone like Williams, it’s hard to talk about the stand-up. It’s great. He’s been doing this for ages, and touring this particular show around the country for a while. At this point, he knows how to write a joke, how to tell a story, and carry a punchline home. He starts his material off fairly absurd and observational, getting everybody onboard before he hits with the political stuff. This is a great hour of comedy.

You can book tickets to Guy Williams: Why Am I Like This here.

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