Jeremy Elwood is one of the mainstays of New Zealand comedy. He’s appeared on several TV shows, comedy galas, even stepping out as a serious actor on stage. And there’s a reason why he’s been around for so long (fourteen festivals apparently)*. He’s just that good.
His show in this year’s Comedy Festival is Notes at the Foxglove Starlight Ballroom. And it’s ostensibly about the process he goes through to write material – how he might be jolted awake one night and he’ll furiously write down the idea that’s popped into his head.
Using this as a conceit we’re taken through Jeremy’s mind as he rants, rages, and remarks upon the world as he sees it.
He’s a professional comic, so he’s completely at ease on the stage. He starts off with some banter with the crowd and he seems to have material for whatever is thrown at him. Whether it’s ad libbed or whether he’s done it a thousand times before you don’t know – but it really doesn’t matter. It is a sign of a gifted performer.
You should know what you’re getting with an Elwood show. It’s going to be political, and it will be controversial. It won’t be shocking comedy, he’s beyond that. But he’ll go to places that you shouldn’t talk about at dinner parties. Sex, politics and religion. And whether you agree with his points or not, he’s usually found the funny and delivered it in just the right way.
The subject matter isn’t groundbreaking, but I don’t think that’s the point. The hour long show seems to act as a therapy session for him as he gets so many things off his chest. And this is the real core of the show. It’s from within this comedy, it’s things he feels passionately – sometimes very passionately. And that lifts it above a lot of other shows you might see. Jeremy wants to say something and goddammit he will (he is my favourite New Zealand comic at using the rage factor. And thankfully he lowers the mic when he does it because the boy can yell).
I have two favourite kinds of comedy. Comedy that brings me new material I’ve never seen before, or comedy that takes an older subject and brings a completely new slant on it. This falls into the latter. We know John Key is a douche, because nearly every comedian tells us, but not every comedian tells us in such an evocative way as Jeremy does.
There are parts of the show which are possibly too cerebral, his fan-fiction section didn’t go over so well the night I attended, and it may have been a lack of familiarity with the source. But if a bit doesn’t fly then he doesn’t stop, point it out awkwardly and let the audience dwell on that fact, he just moves on to his next bit. And his next. He claims he doesn’t do jokes, but his gag quotient is high and you’ll be laughing a lot. Or you’ll angrily agree. Either way there’s an emotional response happening. And it’s a great way to spend an hour.
The worst part of the show is the fact there are posters with Elwood’s face above the urinals. No-one needs that shit.
*I think he may have worn the same flannel shirt in all of them.
Jeremy Elwood: Notes
Foxglove Starlight Ballroom