One the one hand, they mean that the style, tone etc gets mixed up so it is fresh, but at the same time the audience isn’t allowed to get comfortable with any one performer and let them weave a narrative around us. For this reason I think that when you’re dealing with a couple of comics at the higher end of the talent spectrum, like Jonny Potts and Eamonn Marra, a line-up show doesn’t do them justice.
Jonny and Eamonn’s show is held in a funny little community space on Tory Street. It also doubles as an art gallery which is currently displaying artwork by children. There were 32 seats only and a couple of lighting rigs. It’s rough and ready comedy and that suits the tone of the night.
All Day Breakfast is a duo show that actually has a third member – Ray O’Leary, a newcomer to the Wellington scene who opens after a brief introduction from Jonny, who goes to great lengths to point out that after doing taxing thematic shows last year, he and Eamonn agreed to do a show that was jokes. Just jokes.
Ray is obviously not as polished / experienced as Jonny but he’s a gem. There’s clearly a super smart brain there that is happy to challenge all sorts of tough comedy topics in a way that is both new and insightful. He grounds his material in his own experiences so it doesn’t ever feel like we’re being lectured to, and after a few minutes of awkward shuffling he really gets into his groove with great mastery of call-backs, some wonderful performance based jokes that require some deft acting skills and some excellent punch-lines which he milks to their maximum without going overboard.
Jonny is next and again repeats the idea that the show is just jokes. I’ve reviewed Jonny a few times and found his shows to be brilliantly inventive. He did a show playing three different characters one year, then did a 20 year narrative about himself in non-linear fashion, so to see him deliver straight stand-up as just gags was interesting. I think that Jonny suffered a little bit from the lack of theme, as his gags, while very good, were not quite strong enough to stand on their own. Like Ray, he warmed into it and after a bit where it seemed Jonny was about to do a piece of Andy Kaufman-esque reading he launched into what was the highlight of the night to me – Jonny pitching a show idea to the audience. Having an over-arching narrative helped his patter, his timing and his humour immensely. With funny bits punctuated throughout one arch we saw Jonny at his best, tearing down daily norms and holding mirrors up to the audience to show how ridiculous some of our collective behaviours are. That antiestablishment streak is still strong and still a source of Jonny’s best work.
Eamonn was next, and I thought I’d never seen him before and he was on my list of local acts who I was really keen to see. It turned out I had seen him before and I’d seen a fair bit of his set at Jonny and Jarrod Baker’s show in last year’s festival: Terrible Ideas. Though this was a touch disappointing, the set is a solid set. There’s a vulnerability to Eamonn which makes him instantly likeable on stage. Whether it’s a character or whether it’s actually him is unclear, and irrelevant. Though he does go to great pains to suggest it is really him.
Eamonn’s material is tight, his delivery excellent and his timing is great. There is definitely potential in him but it still requires some polish. He thrashed a motif a bit, and while it still got a few chuckles from the audience, by the umpteenth time it was becoming a bit tiresome.
His warts and all “here I am” approach to comedy is great and should be a model to which other comedians aspire, he just needs to work on really hitting the funny within that.
The show is koha, so there’s no way it’s not worth the money you pay. It’s a great way to spend an hour and a wonderful demonstration that the Wellington Comedy scene is back.
17 Tory Street
April 28, 29 & 30
Auckland Old Folks Association Hall
May 12, 13 & 14