Ivan Aristeguieta is a Venezuelan currently living in Australia. It’s his first time in Wellington he tells us, but he’s got a strong supporter base of Wellington’s Venezuelan’s community to cheer loudly and laugh along at the bits of the show which don’t quite land – which fortunately are not many at all.
Ivan’s best work is when he starts into a rapid fire bit, firing off gags and punchlines into the audience at a million miles an hour. It can be breathless to listen to as Ivan’s speed and gag-per-minute ratio reaches extraordinary heights as he finds a new rant within a rant he was already on. Then he’ll pause so he and the audience can take a breath.
He isn’t just rapid fire gags though. He also has well constructed set-ups that pay off further on into the show. And then there are some longer form bits that really didn’t hit the mark. He had about four or five long-form gags that had very long lead-ins and then the payoff didn’t hit the mark for any of them. He could afford to cut these from his show entirely – last night’s hour long show went to 80 minutes! I can understand the rationale for including them, it shows off a different skillset and makes the show more than just Ivan’s speed-gagging his way through, but it was easily his weakest material and with so much other excellent gear to work with, it seemed a shame to let the show down a wee bit.
Ivan’s great strength is building social capital with the audience. Some of his material is what you’d call basic – there are prolonged bits about farts and poos and other bodily fluids but he never loses the crowd. The way he deftly works his through way this material giving us a new perspective on something that I would have thought had been overworked to death is magnificent. Despite the glut of comedy I’ve seen over the years, and the incredible number of fart jokes I’ve heard and told, Ivan was able to make me laugh multiple times with just an aside here, or a fart noise there. It was a remarkable feat in selling material to a largely New Zealand audience, which may have considered themselves too sophisticated for that sort of thing.
Last night in Wellington it was pouring with rain and miserable outside. I gave serious consideration to just flagging Ivan’s show but I made it. And in the end I’m very glad I did. It was a slice of the old done in a new way and a real joy to witness.
Auckland, Q Theatre, May 14-18, 8.45pm
Full Price $30
Group 6+ $24.90
Tuesday Preview $24.90
Cheap Wednesday $24.90