The Kiwi invasion
As we approach the end of the year, and our 250th show of the year it is nice to spend a little time reflecting. This year we have seen quite a few New Zealanders now plying their trade in the UK. We can think of no invading nation with so many quality comics relative to the size of their country. I await being proved wrong. Our very first show of 2013 featured the excellent Jamie Bowen and we have also seen Javier Jarquin, Rhys Mathewson, the sublime Sully O’Sullivan and the unique Sam Wills better known as The Boy with Tape on his Face. We have seen all of these guys more than once this year and they have never failed to deliver less than top notch comedy. A special mention also to a real favourite of ours Ben Crellin, who has now moved back to New Zealand. We were priviledged to catch up with him again in Edinburgh this year with his really cutting ‘Comic of Duty’ show, and we eagerly anticipate him regrouping after what was a tough year, and coming back in the future and getting the recognition he deserves.
So tonight we finally got to add the daddy of them all to our list. Jarred Christmas, a former winner of the Chortle compere of the year award. We had already been unlucky to miss him earlier this year with a show cancelled in Exeter and finally tonight we got to see the legend live.
A full venue saw him come to the stage just after 8:30 to an immediate microphone malfunction. Oh the professionalism of it all! But this caused lots of laughter and a heckle in itself from an audience member who Jarred came back to regularly throughout the evening. We were due to see Jarred do two halves and we expected a first half of riffing with the audience followed by an interval and then a more planned second half. Nope, completely wrong. The first half indeed started with some lovely audience interaction then went into a Q&A session where audience members were invited to ask him anything. This was done with such style and seamlessness and it got the audience involved so well that the first half flew by. And some of the subjects were quite unique, as were some of the ‘characters’ in the audience. We had teacher Kate and her teacher chums, Mr and Mrs ‘Dick’, Ms belligerent in the front row. And a trio of lady researchers who were over here from Spain, Poland and Brazil doing research into Dartmoor.
The second half was a continuation of the first with more wacky audience interaction and bizarre questions. A particularly interesting section came when Jarred was asked how and why he started comedy. There were bits we had seen on TV and YouTube but the format was so fresh and worked so well that there were audible groans from an audience desperate for more when the show eventually ended at just after 10:30. I looked at my watch bemused thinking he had done a few minutes but in total it was over and hour and forty. A standing ovation from some parts of the crowd, the first we have seen at the venue, and boy was it deserved. I am certain his next show will be completely different and equally as brilliant.
An absolute masterclass, from a man at the top of his game, and one of the most enjoyable shows of our entire year. And chatting to him afterwards he is an absolutely lovely chap. We hope we don’t have to wait until Edinburgh next year to see him again.
If we keep getting the quality we have this year, please send us more Kiwis! (And Ben back).
A shame my anagram doesn’t meet the standard set by Mr Christmas’ comedy – ‘A MR RICHARD JESTS’
A picture that, alas, confirms the belief that I should never let myself be allowed to do anything other than take the picture.