It’s Tom Rhodes’ first time in New Zealand and I do hope it won’t be the last. His style of comedy is brash and irreverent but certainly a breath of fresh air especially if, like me, British comedy is more your go-to for stand up.
Tom’s delivery initially seems haphazard but don’t let his erratic train of thought fool you – his set does flow together seamlessly and every story told is well prepared and masterfully set up with punchlines that are nothing short of comedic genius. Being one of the most well traveled comedians on the circuit, his show is made up of diverse tales that span the globe from Europe to South East Asia.
His material displays a unique, tongue-in-cheek point of view of many things like what he would do to mess up the war (“sometimes bombs, sometimes confetti”), the origins of racism (too much sun) and who he wanted the next Pope to be (“Pope-rah”). When some stories don’t quite hit the mark, Tom is quick to recover by claiming some of his stuff is prepared as “individually wrapped jokes”, tailored to only appeal to one person at a time – which quickly bring back the laughs.
While his humor is undeniably a little boisterous and sometimes teeters on the inappropriate side, there is genuine and brilliant comedy in the stories he tells. He easily keeps you entertained for the hour and by the end of it you honestly feel like you have gone around the world – albeit a twisted, slightly more crude version of the world – with him.
Tom Rhodes is not afraid to ride the controversial train so his brand of comedy may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you do not offend easy, I highly recommend this accomplished seasoned pro for a guaranteed raucous night of comedy!
An established American comedian with a razor sharp global perspective, plus an honest take on a dirty mind and a healthy disregard for some aspects of his own country and culture, comedy don Tom Rhodes is up there with the best.
Not so much the meandering narrative or “here's a bit of a story for you” sort of guy, Rhodes' style, at first, is cocky and confident, fast and incredibly diverse. Pacing round like a caged lion, the diversity of content is extraordinary, from badass blokey to subtle sensitivities; from unique world-view, to personal perspective.
At the top of the night, it feels like he uses his standard material to suss us out: who are we, what do we like, how do we react and where are our boundaries. Thankfully he realises this Kiwi crowd is looking for something more than dope, Australia v NZ and sheep jokes. The turning point for me is his sublime break-dancing injury gag, after which he relaxes (slightly), softens (slightly), and even reveals a bit of self-deprecation by the end. The rest of the night is excellent.
Rhodes gives an astute self-assessment of his own material (a reviewer's dream!), declaring some jokes are designed for one person at a time, while others are for everyone. Consequently I'm on my own when I laugh like a drain at the cook-book joke, but my jaw drops in silent disbelief when he goes to Boston so soon after you-know-what. He's brave, he's genius and somehow – because he qualifies it as ‘in development', and it's within the tapestry of the rest of his brilliance – he owns it.
Personally, favourite topics include: observations from global travels (especially Amsterdam, England and Germany); judgmental Christians; how mosques will save America; homophobia in the military; his mongrel mix, the origins of racism, and how to rid the world of racism; the probing question he'll never get to ask Michael Jackson; American gun laws; haters on YouTube; cricket; Robert Plant; the importance of good timing and finally - true happiness.
Mr Rhodes, thank you so much for going the extra 1500 miles after your Oz gigs, to finally make it to NZ. Please come again. Highly recommended.
They aren't in fact billed together, but Britain's young gun Chris Martin and American veteran Tom Rhodes create a great comedy face-off in their respective festival gigs at the same venue. If this is UK vs the US, stand-up style, it would be hard to pick a winner. They both provide some great cultural comedy insight.
On Tuesday night, Martin had the disadvantage of a 7pm timeslot, and a smaller, less liquored crowd. But his observations on the quirks of humanity still tickle the funnybone. His audience interactions are gentle and sly, and his quips were wide-ranging: bubbles in baths ("a foamy layer of shame"), competitive yoga, why naps are better than massages, solo vs communal fruits (apples vs watermelons), and why it's called a glovebox when we don't use it for gloves. His casual British demeanour and slightly rambling delivery can occasionally take the real punch out of the joke, but his notes on consumer reviews of kitchen appliances, and the unseen advantages of a longtime girlfriend deliver big laughs.
By comparison, Rhodes is like conversing with someone on speed - he's louder, brasher, more controversial, more energetic, and humorous in his style as much as his content. Sex, religion, racism (sunburn is the real cause), and gay marriage are all wound into personal anecdotes from his seemingly nutty life.
His stories about being hit on by another male comedy star, his father's 100 degree air conditioning rule, and losing love in Amsterdam are all very entertaining, with or without a concrete punchline. But it's his quips on the English, ideas for the new Pope, and thoughts on mixed-race relationships ("you gotta keep mixing the races until we're all the same grey-ish colour") which cut through.
If you haven’t made it yet to a comedy fest show, this is your chance. Imagine Bill Hicks if he had survived cancer and mellowed out with an ounce of cannabis per day, you’d have Tom Rhodes.
The semi-auomatic rapid fire of jokes is machine gunned into the audience bringing forth biting cynical observations of the world from an angry Gen Xer.
The early 90s rap jokes are beautiful, his desire to shout witch whenever he sees a magician perform a trick, the worst present he ever got was an audio book narrated by Stephen Hawkins and the Gay Angel jokes are all terribly clever quirky twists of wit which Rhodes pulls off effortlessly.
He’s charming, a bit dark (his reasons for hating on his 12 year old niece are hilariously bleak) and his rant on how Barbie leads girls to giving rich guys blowjobs is comedic genius.
Rhodes is the real deal and worth making the effort to get out and see.
Tom Rhodes performed the first stand-up show in New Zealand at the Classic last night for NZ International Comedy Festival.
His hard-hitting fast off-the-bat comedy left the audience more than a little short of breath, as the general probing of less confident comedians was avoided, and this well-seasoned pro thrust us into his world of hilarity.
It would be wrong on two levels to refer to this show with the cliché “Laugh a minute”…
I’d have to have an inability to comprehend what this fast-paced comedy legend was saying
I’d have to have no real understanding of the passage of time.
Once they’d warmed to his pace the audience were well on-board with this excellent hour of laugh-mania. Considering he’d only stepped off the plane in NZ 13 hours before he took to the stage, this show was a brilliant demonstration of what this comedian is capable of.
This show earns Rhodes “four and a half stars (tattooed onto a stripper)” for this brilliant performance! Not bad for his first day in NZ, ever.
Tom Rhodes is comedy personified.