The 5 Star Comedy Preview is a great way to kick off your festival and help you pick which international acts you’ll see during the three weeks of laughs ahead.
Our MC for the night was Jimmy McGhie, a regular on the international comedy festival scene who offered us some useful advice about how to determine if someone is really posh in England. He also hit us with a candid insight into his first sexual experience, which was met with equal measures of shock and hilarity from the audience. Once he had us all settled in for a night of full belly laughs our Smörgåsbord of comedic entertainment commenced.
First up was some brilliant observational comedy from Scott Iain Stirling, whose devilish wit will definitely be enjoyed by those with a darker sense of humour. Next up came Londoner Adam Hess, a fast-paced comic who relayed a story of his first ever flight, which conveniently for us was to get him here to New Zealand. I wasn’t sure if his hectic delivery was due to his jetlag or just some sort of breakdown, either way, he was hilarious and highlights included him getting his own back of his mother and how a German man dealt with NZ strict import laws. The only female performer of the night, UK’s Lou Sanders, sadly seemed to lose steam after talking dating and schooling and gave us what was noticeable a short set so we hope to see more from her during the festival.
The final act before the break and my personal favourtite was Finland’s Ismo Leikola and immediately it’s obvious why this man was on so many must-see lists at last year’s festival and has been crowned ‘Funniest Person in the World’. His calm confidence and subtle delivery made the quality of his material even more apparent. Ismo treated us to stories of food consumption and romancing his wife to the delight of the SkyCity audience.
The second half began with snappy dresser and NZ Comedy Festival regular Chris Martin (no not the lead singer of Coldplay) who’s observations about New Zealand are pretty spot on and his self-deprecating humour is always a winner with the audience. Another returning Brit, and one of the leading comics on the UK and international live circuits, Markus Birdman, delivered a solid performance of punchy and controversial material with an intellectual edge which really hit the spot. Ed Gamble was next and was a charming comedian who regaled tales of relationships and inevitable the jetlag from the epic trip over to NZ. To finish off the evening we were treated to veteran Hal Cruttenden, who’s camp manner and bouncy energy complemented his sharp and biting wit.
Each of these acclaimed international performers has a solo show to check out during the festival and you can see Adam Hess, Lou Sanders and Iain Stirling at The Big Show 2017. Check out the full programme and get booking here.
Reviewed by Ian Wright.