Prashan Casinader - Pwv.co.nz'...he barefoot Frenchman took it upon himself to build a solid relationship with the crowd, while still expressing his disdain at slightly lethargic responses at times. Nevertheless as the night went on the laughter and applause became longer and louder as a diverse set of 17 comedians took to the stage, from both New Zealand and across the world... 'open/close
Marcel Lucont brought out his bag of comedy tricks to entertain, educate and engage the audience as he compered Old Mout Cider First Laughs. With what even he admitted were an unnecessarily large number of disco balls floating behind him as part of the set, the barefoot Frenchman took it upon himself to build a solid relationship with the crowd, while still expressing his disdain at slightly lethargic responses at times. Nevertheless as the night went on the laughter and applause became longer and louder as a diverse set of 17 comedians took to the stage, from both New Zealand and across the world.
The most charismatic and entertaining performances of the night came mainly from offshore. Reginald D. Hunter (USA), John Gordillo (UK) and Luke Heggie (AUS) presented their opinions on ongoing murder trials, parents trying to keep up with the times, and the varying incompetence of bottle store customers. Hunter, who was making his New Zealand debut and therefore walked on to particularly quiet anticipation played the audience fantastically, offering a wide range of humour and pushing the envelope in a unique way. Kiwi veterans Ben Hurley and Brendhan Lovegrove also brought their A-game in providing good anecdotes.
What all of these comedians opted for in their space of time was to focus and expand on a specific topic rather than moving from one joke to another loosely connected one, and that is what got the greatest crowd response and proved to be the most memorable.
Sara Pascoe (UK) and 7 Days regular Jeremy Elwood commendably both incorporated social and political issues into their set, which when they started felt out of place, but then successfully managed to make a point without killing the atmosphere.
The breath of fresh air for the night came from the performances of James Acaster (UK) and local Brad Zimmerman. Younger than most of their counterparts, the two had an unpredictable flow and vivid personalities that stood out in a showcase that was slightly on the long side.
The last performer, Australian favourite Chopper was given the most raucous welcome from the crowd, and he went on to prove why he keeps getting invited back to perform here. As both he and Marcel Lucont bid adieu, they took the opportunity to shamelessly plug the shows they are doing for the New Zealand Comedy Festival, just like many of the other performers. With the way that First Laughs went, it would not be surprising to see a rise in ticket sales for the other Festival shows.