Close but no cigar
[by Sharu Delilkan]
The foyer of The Classic was buzzing as would be expected on the first official night of the 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival.
The bar was under siege before the start of Chris Martin’s first show and the queue for the theatre snaked out the door to the last of the smokers building up their nicotine levels before the hour-long show. But once we were shown our seats we knew we were in for an intimate night of comedy, especially given the warm reception from the people at the table we were seated at.
Looking around it was great to see an audience representing a good cross-section of young and old alike.
It was not long before the lights dimmed and Chris Martin walked on stage carrying what he later revealed to be a Moroccan teapot. It was also hard to miss the flip chart perched on its side on a chair at the back. The minimal props were probably as understated as the performance that ensued.
Martin’s world in Spot the Difference generally consisted of the minutiae of human life – highlighting the small stuff that annoys him as well as an ongoing theme of Scelerophobia, fear of being attacked and murdered. In terms of everyday topics literally no stone was left unturned, he touched on everything from Manuka honey to kiwifruit (and exotic fruit) to cereal even masseurs as well as dogs and guns.
The audience was relatively receptive, with the exception of a woman located right in the middle of the room who made up for the occasional tepid reception in spades. Her repeated claps and ‘woo-hoos’, including admitting to eating a whole watermelon at one sitting “because she liked them”, was a tad unnerving not just for Martin but the rest of the audience too.
Martin did however warm up halfway through the show, revealing a number of gems which left the audience in stitches.
His comments about Auckland traffic and our abundant sushi shops promised great insight but stopped short. A little more local research and appreciation for the local culture would have held him in good stead from the get-go and endeared him to the audience a lot quicker. However to his credit he handled the heckles professionally without bruising any egos.
Had there been more clever moments and had the show been slicker to build momentum, he would have had the audience in hysterics. Maybe it was first night jitters, or maybe it was a sign of a young performer but overall the show was entertaining but just lacked that spark.
The use of some graphs on flip charts however was a great device changing the pace of the show.
Overall it was a credible performance and to his credit it was his first show at the festival. So I hope he finds his level and confidence in his later shows because although he’s young the flickers of brilliance he did display showed great promise. All the show needs is a little honing and attitude to turn it from good to excellent.
Chris Martin’s Spot the Difference plays at The Classic until 4 May. Details see NZ International Comedy Festival.