During last year’s NZ International Comedy Festival I saw Stuart Goldsmith perform at The Big Show at the Auckland Town Hall, there was a generous crowd and Stuart performed amongst a bunch of his entertaining friends. It was a splendid evening. This time round he was equally entertaining but did not have the support of fellow comics and the Monday night punters showed up in smidgeons only. Alas! Such is the nature of performing sometimes and Stuart Goldsmith is not one to mope, rather, he embraces topics on loneliness, broody men (mainly himself) and the comic’s curse of constantly seeking approval.
Despite the small crowd, Stuart Goldsmith worked his material with confidence and quickly had the full support of the people that were there. This headcount was the cause of a small skirmish with the female accountant in the front row which Goldsmith took care of with ease. Audience interaction was an unavoidable occurrence considering the small numbers and by the end of the show most of us there had become involved in one of his gags. Goldsmith’s material is varied but centres around his hard-as-nails grandmother, his desire to have babies and a great piece about the pros and cons of supermarket grazing.
Stuart Goldsmith is an extremely likeable comedian and delivers his material with confidence and neurotic charm. Unlike other comedians who visit our shores, Goldsmith does not feel the need to joke about kiwis and the quaintness of New Zealand to get his initiation settled. Instead, he directs his material inwards by observing his own behaviours and peculiarities and invites the audience to share their similar experiences which created an intimate atmosphere that sadly for Stuart, did not result in him acquiring any babies. This man deserves a larger crowd so get down to The Classic Studio and pack it out.
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If you haven’t been to see anything in the Comedy Festival yet, time is running out mate. It’s almost the end of the second week and some fantastic acts have already been and gone. There are many laughs to be had. Many shows to see. It can be overwhelming. Could I make a recommendation then? Ok. Sweet.
Go see Stuart Goldsmith.
The seasoned UK comedian is nearing the end of his run at the Classic Studio, and it's fantastic.
I understand Goldsmith's been taking the time over the last few weeks to rework, reorder and revamp his set, constantly shifting things around and tweaking them each night. I'd heard good things about his earlier performances, but by the night I saw him everything was firing like crazy. Like something that’s really good at firing. This was an incredibly tight, personal, and hilarious hour of stand-up.
Stuart wants a baby. A lot. And this rare (on stage at least) viewpoint for a comedian provides the framework for digressions on supermarkets, single vs coupled life, and his grandmother. While this isn’t new ground for comedy, Goldsmith’s intensely charming persona and absolute skill as a stand-up makes everything hit just right. Much of his material covers the loneliness a man encounters being miles away from his partner, wandering strange cities searching for human interaction and finding solace in made up games total strangers don’t even know they’re a part of. It’s instantly relatable, and while it’s self-deprecating stuff there’s no awkwardness here, no bitterness, Goldsmith is a joy to watch and the whole crowd has a total ‘safe hands’ feeling you only get from watching a true pro. I feel even if he went to much darker places I still would have been on board.
It can be hard when you’re part of a small crowd at a stand up gig. There’s often more pressure on the audience to laugh and engage with the show. It can be draining. This wasn’t the case here. The place FELT like it was full. I laughed the hardest I’ve done this festival and none of it was forced.
Goldsmith is on until Saturday. Get along.
I won’t be the only person gushing about James Acaster, the young Brit comedian who is currently performing at the Classic in Auckland. Following a sold out season at the 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival, Acaster was bound to be a hot ticket again this year.
His new show is the perfect stand-up with brand new material that showcases not only his clever observations, but also his ability to create a flawlessly enjoyable and slightly surreal hour of storytelling.
If you saw his show last year then you will be in for a surprise. Turns out James has a secret, and he’s just dying to tell us all about it. Before doing so he has some thoughts to share first.
Acaster’s highlighting of life’s loopholes is a real eye opener, especially for 1980′s ice skating fanatics. Eatery ‘Pret A Manger’ provides him with some food based anecdotes from the perfectly ripened avocado to the slightly over ripe banana. Don’t even get him started on the flavour of Dr Pepper.
As he gets into the full flow of the show it’s just layer upon layer of excellently executed comedy monologues, one of which includes his comparison to gangster life and a conga line.
James Acaster already seems to be an expert in his craft. Throughout the show he keeps his deadpan persona, while he delivers his well thought out material and conducts his audience into fits of laughter. A truly excellent hour of comedy.
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Rosabel Tan - Pantograph Punch'James Acaster: Acaster weaves so many threads together, seamlessly transitioning from one disparate topic to the next, that the invisible choreography of his set is startlingly complex and the comedy it creates a total joy...'open/close
Often, you’ll notice something when it’s lacking in a show (funny jokes, good taste) but it’s rare you’ll notice something when it’s present, unless it’s particularly exciting or new. You get this in James Acaster’s show.
Completely deadpan and simultaneously baffled by and indignant about the world around him, Acaster has a talent for picking minute details from his day-to-day and focusing in on them with Seinfeld-level attention and outrage, pushing us down extended acts of logic that are both delightfully absurd (if only for the amount of time that’s been spent overanalysing them) yet wonderfully rational and relatable.
Idle thoughts, overheard passing comments and fleeting ambitions become topics and situations that require serious unpicking: we encounter a checkout operator muttering snarkily that he’s too good for a free banana (actually, yes, he is too good for a free banana) and childhood dreams of wanting to become an undercover cop (“But I didn’t tell anyone, because I didn’t want to grow up, become an undercover cop. First day on the job, already blown my cover, running my mouth all round town as a child.”)
He creates unexpected pairings that bring real delight (leaders of gangs and leaders of congo lines) but the most impressive element of the show is the way he plants and retrieves details like it’s Chekhov’s ultimate gun collection, each callback a cleverly repurposed reference casting the current gag in a new light and giving it new gravity. By the end it feels not unlike watching someone turn a really complicated string trick into a perfectly knitted sweater: Acaster weaves so many threads together, seamlessly transitioning from one disparate topic to the next, that the invisible choreography of his set is startlingly complex and the comedy it creates a total joy.
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Simon Howard - Theatreview.org.nz'This is without question my personal highlight of this year's festival. Goldsmith is an accomplished and likeable performer and Acaster has people alongside me crying with laughter...'open/close
Returning to Wellington with full-length shows for the first time after being part of the 5 Star International Showcase in 2013, James Acaster and Stuart Goldsmith are two comedians with promising reputations in their native England. Acaster arrives on the back of a sell-out season in Auckland where he was forced to add extra shows, so hopes are high heading into the opening night of this final double feature at the Hannah Playhouse.
Kicking off proceedings is Stuart Goldsmith. He deals with the mundane nature of everyday life for comedians, namely working in a profession where working at night leaves you prone to days of loneliness. Goldsmith describes his ventures around city centres, sitting in cafes and visiting supermarkets, finding humour in the form of interactions with strangers. This is all pleasing enough, if a little safe in its nature.
The funniest part of the hour comes towards the latter stages, with subjects such as the battle between couples and singles and a dissection of the fish in the sea analogy. His desire for a baby and his relationship with his girlfriend are tight and funny, and he wins the crowd over with his self-deprecating style.
Goldsmith is easily one of the most likeable comedians in this year's festival and delivers a winning hour of pleasing stories and witty insights which lead us nicely into the quite markedly different style of James Acaster.
Strutting out after a short interval and dropping to his knees, James Acaster begins with a hilarious opening section all about loopholes and the joy he gets from discovering them, allied to a jealousy when uninteresting people like renowned skaters Torvill and Dean find them. The clock on his fifty minutes doesn't start until he arises and starts his stop watch. He goes on to address the back rows of the theatre at the expense of the front, subverting conventional expectations of a stand-up comedian.
This is a theme which runs throughout his set. For those willing to embrace the whimsy of the hour that follows, there is wonder to be found at almost every turn.
Acaster's deadpan delivery is a joy to behold; his gangly and whimsical style of comedy so refreshingly unique compared to much of what's around on the comedy scene right now. He threads together an hour's show based upon the ‘fact' that he is secretly [spoiler averted], but proving to be so good at it that he keeps getting booked for more and more comedy gigs.
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