It is early in the piece for the 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival and I was at the Brooklyn Lounge and Bar to see author/speaker/trainer and comedian Terry Williams perform his show ‘The Grin Reaper’.
Maybe someone like Terry Williams is the missionary of the 21st Century? If my cross-over, composite of people imagination skills are accurate then I have witnessed something between the motivational chops of Anthony “Tony” Robbins and the cool of someone, say…Vanilla Ice maybe?
I only say Vanilla Ice because he, like Terry, is funky (and he describes himself as ‘somewhat vanilla’). Apologies Terry is not funky, in fact according to Terry NZ is not rated at all for its funkiness. This is a theme in which he operates healthily as he pokes fun at the idiosyncrasies’ of small and big town NZ, Auckland drivers and a McDonald’s ex-wife combo.
From the start Terry Williams had me off guard and imaging my 40th birthday while he introduced his unique brand of comedy that seeks to inspire as well as entertain. Terry’s routine is for those who have had, just had, are in, or expecting a mid-life crisis.
Terry’s rhetoric provokes reflection and provides wisdom among some well woven tales that include some sporting references to kiwi culture (or lack of) but is not for those that seek a more hedonistic or lewd approach. The material is suited for a family audience that can appreciate a piss take across the entire clan; from the savvy ignorance of teenagers to his granddad screaming fellatio at focaccia bread- and it would pay to know your tahini from your Wahine disaster.
Terry Williams explains to us that this is his first solo show in a few years but it sure doesn’t feel like it. He takes to the stage like a seasoned pro and very quickly establishes a great rapport with his audience.
The Grin Reaper came to be when Terry read a study of places on earth with the longest life expectancy. He tells us that over the course of the show we will learn how to add ten quality years to our life. I was very pleased to know that “wine at 5pm” was one of the ways!
Like most if not all homegrown comedians, his set is tailored more towards a Kiwi audience but that said his style of anecdotal comedy is one that has great universal appeal. His show is made up of a collection of short stories most of which end with some of the best punchlines I’ve heard.
From the hilarious tale of his father confusing fellatio and focaccia to the time he battled gravity Matrix-style in a bid to save a mayonnaise jar, Terry’s superb comedic timing and innate ability to tell and build up a good story will have you hooked. His stories are engaging, well written and just downright funny.
Terry Williams’ The Grin Reaper is an entertaining hour of sharp and witty comedy that will have you laughing and, if you paid attention, living longer. It’s easy to overlook the locals with all the many international comics currently in town, but if you do want to check out some of our homegrown comedic talent, you can’t go wrong with this one!
The longest living people have nine secrets. So says Terry Williams, The Grin Reaper, and the aforementioned nine secrets provide the theme for his latest show.
He's right, of course, about the nine secrets, but as with most good comedy shows this doesn't stop Williams commenting liberally on anything and everything including the occasional words of support - and advice - he gets from the more vocal members of his audience and, in so doing, he definitely runs the gamut of human experience.
As to New Zealand being an incubator for comedy brilliance I would have none of it. Others said ‘yes', but I said ‘not a whit!'
Last night I had to eat my words.
Actually I'd been eating them for awhile because, no matter how hard I've tried to the contrary, I consistently find ‘Seven Days' massively entertaining and most of those guys are Kiwis. Occasionally they even allow a woman in – the delicious Madeleine Sami, the outrageous Urzila Carlson and the immensely talented Michele A'Court – but comedy in Aotearoa New Zealand is still largely a man's game and no matter how much I may carp volubly about this no-one seems to be listening. Laughing, yes, but not listening.
I have the pleasure of reviewing quite a number of shows during the 2013 New Zealand International Comedy Festival and what I've written above I will say only once – but it may well inform the nature of my comments on other shows from here on in.
So be it.
Terry Williams is one of this new breed, a strain of comedian that I seem to have missed while in my self-imposed, petulant, anti-Kiwi wilderness. He's attractive, charming, incredibly well prepared, has good material and, surprise of all surprises, he's actually very funny. Not riotously, pants-wettingly funny, though he did elicit more than a few gutsy guffaws, but more subtle, more sneak-up behind you funny and it goes down a treat with his full opening night house.
I learn a bunch of stuff, too.
I learn that longevity is 25% luck – the cards you're born with – and 75% life style choices. I learn that if you grow up in Okinawa your life expectancy is increased immeasurably. I learn that I can visit Blue Zones website and do a survey and I am given a Get-Out Of-Death-Free card which goes with the website. I also learn what not to do when returning a jar of mayonnaise to the ‘fridge.
I especially like Williams' carefully constructed gags, the ones he's built from the ground up and which are almost idiot-proof. I like that he has great one-liners to poke the audience with when we fail to catch on to his more arcane and convoluted thought trains. There's a few of these and they're well worth the effort though I do wonder how they'd go down at the Taumarunui Cosmopolitan Club. They probably wouldn't, because Williams is a class act and I've little doubt he has material to suit every occasion.
There's the classic content, too, the jokes that pitch one suburb/region/country against another. The French, Hamilton, Westies and gays all cop some stick but it's all good natured, well timed fun - and in the spirit of living longer so who can possibly complain.
There's the self-deprecating stuff, too, but that's somewhat less successful. Not much, just a bit. Sorry, Terry, but we like you and we're not that chuffed when you take the mickey out of a mate and by the end of 55mins that's how we've grown to see you. You're our mate, and we're happy with that.
A word about the venue: big ups to Brooklyn Bar and Lounge. The venue seats about 60 comfortably and it's stylish and tasteful. Alcohol and comedy seem to go together and, if this is your bag, then Brooklyn Bar and Lounge is a very nice way to marry the two. Either way, it's a great venue for taking in a show and the staff are terrific as well.
The Grin Reaper certainly reaps the laughs and Williams, playing at 7pm and great in his own right, is also a first-class precursor to a later show if you're up for more than one in an evening and Brooklyn Bar and Lounge, just happens to be within 5 minutes walking distance from all the other comedy venues.
Catch The Grin Reaper if you can – you might even get to win a bottle of his sponsor's fine product!
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Peter Allen Belly laughing is another one of the ways to live a longer life - and Terry's show had me laughing long and hard!
Lyndsey SwanA high-energy, entertaining and intelligent show, and a great way to spend an hour.
Jayne AlbistonA really fantastic hour which saw me belly laughing for most of it! Thanks Terry for an intelligent, witty show! Will recommend you and am looking forward to the next one!
Linda ColesCracking night out! I laughed my socks off and so did the rest of the group that came along. A funny look at some everyday stuff, I will never look at a chameleon in the same way :) Needed longer.
Gian MansellA great show, intelligent humour that still has me laughing thinking about it. Thanks Terry for a fun night out.
Sally MabelleI appreciated your conversational, laid back Kiwi style, Terry - and your insightful and clever comments about Kiwi men, teenagers, and jars really tickled my funny bone! I liked how you included real research stats too which made the hour like a combination of comedy and keynote - well-designed for those who like intelligent humour :-)
Dave SaundersBrilliant, smart and witty. Good use of an hour!
Mark SprosenAn absolutely great show, thoroughly deserving of the reviews. A very funny man and we can all associate with where the humour is coming from.
Paul ColesWhat a great night out. Terry was very funny, and took the whole audience with him. If you get a chance this is a must see show.
Bianca CrawfordA very funny, clever and well thought out show. Well done Terry - you certainly are part of the 'new generation' of NZ comedy. :o)