In 2015 I got an email from Eli Matthewson asking if I’d like to come and review his show “Faith”. I get a lot of these requests and I don’t go to every single show, but I try to get to those who pro-actively ask.
I was super impressed with Faith, and so every time Eli’s had a festival show I’ve asked the festival if I can go along and review. I don’t do this with many comics, I’ll usually do a couple of reviews then move on, but with Eli I’ve wanted to see how he evolves as a comic and I can say that Myth and Legend is Eli at the top of his game.
Eli has in the past had a knack for incredibly eye-catching show titles, we’ve had the Year of Magical Fucking, and An Inconvenient Poof and while those shows had amazing names, their content was perhaps not as strong as I felt Eli could be. This year, Myth and Legend is probably his dullest show title but easily his best show.
There’s an ease on stage, a comfort about Eli that I haven’t seen before. It’s like he’s grown into his comedic voice. There isn’t a wasted moment of Myths and Legends. Each bit, each gag, each story seemed like it had been devised perfectly to get maximum laughter. It’s an incredible mix of relatable material and material from the perspective of someone whose life I do not lead, a very hard trick to pull off.
There are some jarring subversions of comedic norms, like when Eli uses the rule of two instead of the rule of three and often this can lead to reduced laughter, but with Eli it just works. He still has the most magnetic personality up on stage, he’s a person you want to do well because he’s just so likable.
He has some superb observations on the world, including a meta bit on observations of observations and brings a different perspective to one we might be used to.
The show felt like it brought more of Eli’s true self out than in earlier years where we saw someone that I think Eli thought we wanted to see. Doing this has made him a better comic.
As with every show I’ve seen Eli do, he takes a shotgun approach to comedy, firing out and seeing what hits. Except this year nearly everything does hit and it’s tighter and more focused.
I don’t know if I’ll go to any more of Eli’s shows. I felt like a proud uncle in the audience, watching a relative I see once a year finally reach the potential I knew was there.
Wellington, Te Auaha Little Theatre, May 21-25, 7:15pm
Full price: $25
Group 6+: $20