The Bronaissance, a sequel to James Nokise’s So-So Gangsta, is an election year special, raising awareness and battling voter apathy.
Your bros are your people, those who’re nearest and dearest. But they’re also The People. An election signifies two events; the coming together of diverse and disparate individuals; and unification of citizenry, engaged by a common action. The expression of political agency, then, is like a national renaissance (rebirth).
Nokise presents a chain of anecdotes linked through the theme of representation. Figurative art of the Renaissance segues into a social concept, where representation exposes a struggle for power—self-representation (e.g. Nokise’s fandom of The Crow led him to create an alternative persona, The Pigeon) vs. misrepresentation (the persistence of racial bigotry in New Zealand and abroad). This riff is finally expressed in the political arena. Voting is an expression of self-representation, yet one that has a profound impact on how others are represented also.
It’s near impossible not to connect with Nokise’s amiability and wit. His control never falters, the delivery is rapid fire and the outcome always pays off. Visual art by Sheyne Tuffery and Jeremy Leatinu’u is projected onto screens on stage. Shown alongside one another (including The Poet as Unionist, a poem by Karlo Mila provided in the program, music by Adam Page, and a punky ensemble by Suzanne Tamaki), I recall a choir that paradoxically consists of multiple voices.
The message undeniably leans to the left, but there’s material here to charm and challenge voters of every persuasion.
The Q Loft last night played witness to the opening night of James Nokise’s sequel to his acclaimed So So Gangsta show – Bronaissance.
Nokise is actually involved in the production of uproarious TV show 7 Days, but this act was a far-flung contrast to the oft slapstick nature of Messrs Ego, Henwood and Corbett. Bronaissance was a combination of the musings, feelings and social commentary of a clearly sharp and intelligent man, with sporadic injections of laughter and frequent doses of fun. That being said, it certainly wasn’t a laugh out loud production, and probably the more neutral watcher (and less avid Nokise-ite) would’ve hoped for more to tickle them.
As Nokise swoops from a personal quest to vanquish the word “faggot” from his nephew’s vocabulary to stinging (and, it turns out, valid) criticism of Enid Blyton and her bigoted views, Bronaissance turns out to be not so much a comedy show but more a humorous yet dark presentation on the world. The audience is steered through his early twenties to where he is today with anecdotes and personal views, with a general theme of highlighting racial inequality prevalent throughout.
Discussions veer from Margaret Thatcher to Nokise’s racist grandfather, from Welsh language and psychological guerilla warfare in an absorbing hour and something of political-laced and satirical entertainment.
And that’s essentially what this show is – entertaining. It’s more a comedy lecture than a routine, but it’s entertaining.
It’s difficult to be critical of someone with such a clear and strong social conscience, someone who genuinely wants to make the world a better place (voting slips are handed out at the end of the show to ensure non-voters are given the chance to be converted), but from a purely comedic perspective there’re likely to be much much funnier shows at this year’s Festival.
For side-splitting humour look further afield; for intellect, interest and pleasant chuckling Nokise is your man.
Samoan-Welsh comic James Nokise is the first Kiwi comedian I’ve seen at the festival and I’ve no qualms about saying that his show has been the most clever, confident and well put together comedy set I’ve seen so far this year.
From the minute he got on stage Nokise charmed, endeared and entertained the crowd. And what made it even more fabulous was the fact that he packed a plethora of Kiwi references into the 60-minute performance, making it not only entertaining but densely populated with observational facts about life in Aotearoa.
His smartly provocative political and sociological commentary displays his breadth of reading and appreciation for art. From his narrative you learn that he has come a long way from his days as a rejected gang member because he was “too camp” and has blossomed into a highly intelligent, witty and hilarious observer of NZ life and loathes.
Racism is his ‘Key’ theme and before you start yawning don’t – just don’t. The subsequent monologue demonstrates a great deal of common sense and tolerance. Flanked by three panels on stage with AV effects projected, his monologue included Renaissance art as well as multiple NZ political figures. This coupled with pitching the Parihaka Peace Festival against Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, certainly caught my attention as a member of the audience.
It was refreshing to go to a comedy show where there was not only a wide range of topics touched upon but also having them link together, creating a memorably smart story arc. As audience members it was heartening to know that we were going to be leaving not only ‘comedically’ satisfied but tingling all over from Nokise’s sparkling, intense delivery.
Shame the size of the crowd was not commensurate with the talent displayed on stage. Nokise definitely deserves more adulation and accolades for the intelligent and uniquely Kiwiana show that he presented tonight.
I for one laughed myself silly and I guarantee that you will to, if you take the trouble to come see this fabulous show.