Tom Furniss is a very funny man. His onstage demeanour and the delivery of his material is really very funny, very original, thoroughly Kiwi and super endearing.
Last year, Furniss' show was a highlight of the festival for me and probably the best Kiwi show I saw. His new show, which centres on a very sad young man's diary from the early '80s, isn't quite as good, but is still a great performance that I'd recommend.
It is a very sad diary and Furniss exaggerates the sadness immensely for comic effect. Even when he's not reading about Cooper's family problems, girl problems or food problems, there's a gloominess to almost everything about his show that is somehow pretty damn funny.
Furniss worked random occurrences into his set better than many other comedians do. At one point, someone emptied a loud, clanging bin of bottles outside. Rather than quipping about it, Furniss simply stayed in character and sadly acknowledged the noise with a head movement in its direction. This is definitely a had-to-be-there bit of humour, but he just worked it subtlety and perfectly into that segment.
When not reading from Cooper's diary, Furniss rambled on extended tangents that illustrated well the weirdness that goes on in his imaginative, very interesting mind.
The love story about a mouse spiralled well out of control, ending up fairly disgusting but all being tied back really well to a throwaway comment from some Aussie dude to his son one time. Then there's a story somewhat similar to that of Edward Scissorhands, although far more absurdist and funny.
Both these stories would've been improved by being shortened a bit and weren't hilarious, but still entertaining.
As I mentioned, I preferred Furniss' 2012 show to this one. He's a particularly funny dude, with a style that is really unique and brilliant, but I think his writing is not yet on the same expert level as his delivery. I imagine that this time next year he'll have an improved show that will be as brilliant as his potential suggests.
This week the full programme of the NZ International Comedy Festival 2013 was released and in celebration we were treated to one hell of a showcase introducing this years Billy T nominees at Billy T James, Q Theatre. Rose Matafeo , Eli Matthewson, Pax, Tom Furniss and Joseph Moore each gave us a ten minute peek of their upcoming shows.
New Zealand Comedy Trust created the annual Billy T Award to support up-and-coming comedians and take their comedy career to the next level.
These final five nominees for the 2013 Billy T Award were selected on their proven comedic ability, talent, dedication, current form and potential, and will be judged on all aspects of their 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival show.
The night was hosted by Steve Wrigley and Ben Hurley whose well honed banter warmed up the audience and got us in the festival mood.
With the daunting task of being first up was Pax, but this energetic comedian had brilliant material that made for a more than great start to the show. He’s a confident stand-up, and totally belongs behind a microphone as he confronted the audience with race, sex and uncontrollable accents!
Rose Matafeo brought a change in pace with her more understated brand of comedy. Even her crowd hype had an ‘anticlimax’ as she monotoned through her self deprecating material. She is a bright funny stand-up and a great representative for young female comics and cat cardigans.
Tom Furniss finished up the second half by telling us that his good year has resulted in less material, leading him to read us the diary of 16 year old Gordon from 1984. This result is various boyhood stories culminating in the drawing lady parts. He’s a more surreal comedian with a clever set which may encourage some anarchic behaviour.
Starting the second half of the show was Joseph Moore who gave a slick and well rehearsed set with a hilarious insight to the effects of ‘that’ Countdown music. As an experienced actor and performer there was no hint of nerves in this polished performance. This will be Joseph’s first solo show where you can expect quick witted and silly observations.
Last up was Eli Mattewson, a butter wouldn’t melt looking guy with edgy material to make your mum blush. Fresh from a run at last years Edinburgh Fringe there’s a lot of buzz around him and he didn’t disappoint. He’s a strong performer who revelled in the audiences enthusiasm. His risqué material may have shocked more as it comes from such a sweet looking young man. A strong comedy talent who will no doubt have many more tricks up his sleeve.
To close off the evening was last years Billy T Winner, the wonderful Guy Williams. He really is a treasure of New Zealand comedy who tackled the silly and surreal in his calm and collected routine. He seems well and truly ready to pass on the baton to the next rising star as he has definitely earned his stripes.
This was an evening to be proud of as these young comedians who have shown that the high quality of our up-and-coming comedy talent is not to be ignored!
Tom Furniss and The Diary of Gordon Leaf-Cooper explores the dark and sad life of a teenager in 1984. Fingers crossed for a happy ending for this mystery 16 year old?
As if it was his density, Tom is handed this diary by an old lady in an Opp Shop. This surreal tale is read out during the show to various sad scores. Be it Adele, or the soundtrack to Edward Scissorhands, we are well and truly in a Tim Burton esque black comedy.
Tom Furniss seems to have been born with an abstract thinking mind which is lucky for him as a comedian.
The show starts off with some tongue in cheek false starts and indoor pyrotechnics. Furniss intermittently moves from stand-up to reading the diary. However his stand-up stories are right out there and pretty bonkers really so you have to be ready to embrace the unconventional in this show.
There’s rodent love and odd appendage add-ons that will not appeal to all but Tom believes in his characters and does manage to weave all this absurdity together. And why not if you can’t be crazy at a comedy festival when can you?
Tom Furniss has a natural comedic way about him. In The Diary of Gordon Leaf-Cooper he has made a brand of comedy noir that is totally his own.