Tim Batt has been around the New Zealand stand-up comedy scene for well over a decade now. In that time he has perhaps never quite reached the potential that is quite clearly there. Space Couch is perhaps the best format for Tim’s brand of comedy and is a really really good show.
The format of the show is aped late-night talk show. Think Letterman, Fallon, or if you’re old Johnny Carson, or really old Ed Sullivan. Tim plays the role of host while musician and funny bloke Disasteradio is his foil and music man.
His run during his Auckland and Wellington seasons have had a comedian guest and someone a bit political. So his Wellington season has had Paula Bennett, James Shaw – and on the night we went and saw it Robbie Nicol, better known as White Man Behind a Desk.
There’s a weird concept element to the show which is that a couch was launched by the Soviets in the 1950s and has now come back to take over the late night show format while at the same time spreading communist propaganda. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around why this existed at all, if only to show off that Tim knows Paul Tompkins who is the voice of Space Couch. Paul is also the voice of Mr Peanutbutter from Bojack Horseman, so that’s a big thing. It didn’t matter though, the show freewheels its way through some set pieces, gimmicks and interviews at a hectic pace and is funny all the way through.
Tim has always been a very clever guy, and he’s got a wide range of interests that go beyond asking what the deal is with airline food. This format of show allows him to exercise those interests by talking about all sorts of issues, from the mundane to the political to the off the wall.
His opening monologue is a chance for him to demonstrate his stand-up chops and he’s still got those, though not to the same standard as perhaps other shows you might see from top name comics. Having someone to bounce off on stage really helps bring the best out of Tim, and Disasteradio is a perfect foil for him. He’s content to not dominate proceedings but every time he does chip in it’s bloody funny, and I never thought you get a radio ad sting to be so humorous. However this show manages it.
Not everything lands, but you wouldn’t expect it to in a show of this nature, but that’s ok. Tim’s stage presence, brains and the fact that you just like the skinny little ragamuffin means that you’ll forgive him some misfires. He also acknowledges when it doesn’t quite land, and does this meta-observation is a clever and funny way so that even if someone thing doesn’t, it soon becomes forgotten or funny.
His gimmick game that he and Disasteradio play at the end of the comedian’s guest spot is a very funny and engaging way for the audience to enjoy two people getting hurt. Which we do. A lot.
His interview with Robbie Nicol was insightful, Tim had done his homework. And so had Robbie, and the two had a nice repartee on stage and balanced each other out. Again, not everything was funny, but it was interesting.
There’s only one show left, which is tonight and the guest is Labour’s Kiri Allan and the comedian is Jerome Chandrahasen. It’s a high quality, loose as shit comedy show. And I don’t think I’ve seen Tim be better.
Wellington, San Fran, May 21-25, 8:30pm
Full price: $25
Group 6+: $20