Sam Brooks roars into the third week with two of this year’s Billy T nominees, an impressive hour from local comedian Louise Beuvink, and a great one from Australian Joel Creasey.
Louise Beuvink: Ladylike: A Modern Day Guide To Etiquette
Right off the bat, Louise Beuvink gets points for using a Madonna mic. Death to the handheld mic.
Louise Beuvink spends her hour brilliantly subverting the audience’s expectations. She starts out dressed like a 50s housewife, with full high heels on, and her set is like the mid-morning television show from your Stepfordian nightmares. But almost right from the get-go, she starts to subvert our expectations.
She’s not going to be our 50s housewife, she’s not Mary Poppins, she’s the girl from (I’m making a perhaps inaccurate assumption here) West Auckland who doesn’t care if you fucking like it. There’s not an anger here, there’s a simple feeling of ‘I am correct, obviously.’
That assuredness is felt all the way through this hour, and in her performance. The more bizarre and out there bits, largely prop reliant, are sold not just because they’re funny and a great point of difference from the rest of the festival, but because Beuvink is so assured. It’s a pointed parody of the kind of woman society has conditioned us to expect, and Beuvink, deservedly, rips that image to shreds.
You can book tickets to Louise Beuvink: Ladylike: A Modern Day Guide to Etiquette here.
Patch Lambert: Terrordactyl
I’ll say this straight up: Patch Lambert is not for me.
There’s a clear appeal to his comedy. The dude is charming, and he ingratiates himself to the audience very well. He makes the kind of rural joke where you can slip in any small town and the joke remains functionally the same: “Rural places are unpleasant, backwards and weird.”
Lambert’s jokes are related to the Hutt, where he grew up, but you could substitute Hamilton, Gore, Levin or even a West Auckland suburb into many of these jokes and the result would be the same. The audiences knows these jokes, and they’re good for an easy laugh, but we’ve heard the structure before, just with different words.
It’s less an hour of structured comedy and more an hour of jokes that ties up very loosely at the end. There’s gaps in the material, stories trail off without strong punchlines and callbacks are more commas than they are exclamation points; they build less on the joke before and they’re more a reminder of what we’ve seen before.
It’s the lack of a structure that hurts this hour the most. More and more this Comedy Festival I’ve been impressed at how well-structured our local comedians hours have been, both structured around a theme and structured within the hour. Lambert’s hour is loose, he ambles from joke to joke in a way that would be fine in a five minute set, but over an hour it drags.
Lambert gets by a lot on his charm and how easy his jokes are, we don’t have to stretch ourselves to work, but it can’t get past the fundamental obstacle of a lack of structure. There’s an environment I can see Patch working in, I can see him being an incredible pub comedian, but for a static hour of comedy, he’s not at his best.
You can book tickets to Patch Lambert: Terrordactyl here.
Ray O’Leary: A Pessismist’s Guide to Optimism
Ray O’Leary namedrops philosophy (or some version there of) 30 times in his first hour of comedy.
It feels like a harsh thing to pick on, and it probably is. It’s a slim, and incredibly broad, thing to hang a show on. It’s also not a terribly relatable thing to hang a show on. When a comedian starts their hour out with acknowledging their philosophy degree, it immediately sets them apart from the audience. We’re not relating to them, we’re not ingratiated to them, we’re seeing someone who is placing themselves above and away from us.
This point of difference can work if there’s something else to rest on, a persona or a style of performance, but O’Leary doesn’t commit to either of these. Both persona and performance are awkward and monotone, and while O’Leary has a few great jokes, he doesn’t work hard enough to carry any of them across the finish line, and by the end of the hour it, again, feels less like an hour of comedy and more like an hour of jokes.
I can see O’Leary’s potential. He’s clearly a smart guy, he makes sure that we know he’s a smart guy, and his observational comedy is necessarily pointed, but he’s yet to build enough of a rapport with an audience that his material (and his take on that material) requires, especially over an hour.
You can book tickets to Ray O’Leary: A Pessimist’s Guide to Optimism
Joel Creasey: Poser
The best part of a comedy show is when you realise that a comedian is there so you can have a good time. It’s not about their ego, it’s not about them making you think like they think, it’s about making sure that you have the best hour you can possibly have. Joel Creasey does this, and then some.
He’s an endlessly charismatic performer, and one who absolutely knows his audience: gay men, straight women and their respective plus ones. I fall sharply into his demographic, so his jokes about Eurovision, Joan Rivers and Carrie Fisher are not just in my ballpark, they are the entirety of my ballpark.
It’s week three of the festival, you guys. It’s getting harder and harder to come up with ways to say, “This is a really good hour of comedy.” But, Poser is a genuinely great hour of comedy. These jokes are word-perfect, the performance is syllable-perfect and it has a genuinely touching and beautiful ending.
Poser does all the things an hour of comedy should do, and in the last week of the festival that’s what you need. Creasey wants us to have an amazing time, and is willing to do the work to make sure we have an amazing time.
You can book tickets to Joel Creasey: Poser here.