As a Christchurch born Maori with some particularly nerdy interests, 2014 Billy T Award nominee Jamaine Ross has struggled with feeling like an outsider, but if you ask him he’s experienced little in the way of genuine racism.
Inspired by the throw away comment of a friend, he has returned with this year’s show ‘One Of The Good Ones’; an attempt to better understand the little discrimination he has faced in his life.
There’s a kitchen sink approach in play here as Jamaine makes use of wordplay, props, observational humour, pop culture references and music. The jokes feel off the cuff, like they are being worked out on the spot, and Jermaine’s delivery is shambling and conversational. It’s an easy style to like, as the whole hour feels like an evening with an old friend, sharing old foggy stories.
Jamaine is more than happy to follow tangents and asides wherever they may lead, seemingly on the spot, which does result in a show that can feel somewhat underwritten. Stories can stop and start seemingly at random, and the odd joke can last too long after the punch line, but this is an understandable trade-off for the show’s shaggy, laid back charm.
The easy-going, free-wheeling style ultimately pays off when Ross turns his focus to the darker issues just underneath the surface of his anecdotes. His improvisational, laid back nature can give you a false sense of security. Some particularly harsh truths come under the spotlight in the final third, and hit harder than they might have coming from a comedian more obviously concerned with such weighty material.
It’s a late-in-the-game twist that makes me think Jamaine is far more prepared than his easy going demeanour would have had you believe.
Likable and laid back, with a growing maturity in his material.
Reviewed by Liam Golds.