I have always had a soft spot for Tim Batt’s comedy. Early on in his career he was compared to me and this made him really upset so he quit comedy for a while. Ha. Since then, he’s gone on to be a far better comic than I would ever be, but on evidence of his festival show, he still has a little bit to go.
His show – Tim Batt saves Planet Earth – is a mix of long-form story telling and short sharp gags, with a focus largely on Tim’s observations of the world around him. He opens with a video that shows all the problems with the world and why it needs saving. Alarmingly he includes footage of George W. Bush. I say alarmingly because that’s old hat. Dubya hasn’t been President for six years now and I think comedians should maybe think about retiring material about him unless it’s earth shatteringly brilliant. Unfortunately a lot of Tim’s material was based on things that you will have heard, or if you haven’t then you could easily have conceived of it.
There are jibes at Christianity and New Zealand’s preponderance for naming teams “Black”. We also hear about Tim’s adventures while stoned. The jokes are tight, but they don’t offer me anything new.
But then there are his stories.
When he gets going with the longer-form stuff I am blown away. Tim is only 26 but his ability to weave a story that is punctuated with really funny bits is right up there with the best in NZ. His energy, timing and presentation is top class. He has enthusiasm and self-confidence in spades and it really works well with the audience. This material shows a really astute observational mind, drawing funny from scenarios we wouldn’t necessarily consider ripe for a comedic plucking. It doesn’t matter that he thinks Scousers come from London or that mnemonic is pronounced pneumonic, he takes the audience with him. The Cavern Club last night enjoyed themselves immensely when he got his intelligence out on display, and he has immense amounts of it. He just needs to focus it more sharply.
A couple of the longer-form stories didn’t quite have the pay-off they needed given the length of time he invested, but with some judicious editing these faults will fall away. Also, I’d suggest he lose his final bit. It’s self-indulgent and a bit childish. He has a huge high and then there’s an addendum piece that fell a bit flat.
I’m cognisant it was the first night of this Billy T nominated show, so there will be things that change throughout the season. I do highly recommend this show. Go watch a comedian while he’s still affordable because I have no hesitation in predicting that Tim Batt will get to the top of the New Zealand comedy scene in time.
Tim Batt saves planet Earth
Cavern Club, Wellington, 29 April – 3 May
The Basement, Auckland, 13 – 17 May