REVIEW: Chris Parker: Camp Binch (NZ International Comedy Festival)

Review by Nathan Joe

[Nostalgia Extravaganza]

Chris Parker has mastered the art of self-deprecation and personal storytelling, taking the audience on an emotional detour through his childhood. Camp Binch is a brilliant underdog story of growing up in Christchurch, not just as a gay kid, but also simply as an outsider.

Equipped with a ridiculous wig and a black sequin backdrop, Parker skillfully avoids the tropes of stand-up and weaves a full-blown narrative with astonishing clarity, jumping from primary school to high school where we learn all about his struggles.

While he never goes too dark, there’s never a sense that he’s hiding anything from us either. Comedy rarely feels this real and personal. The moments where he comes close to the edge of emotional nakedness are easily balanced out by the quality of the humour.

In a climate of debates about what we can or can’t joke about, of accusations of political correctness and censorship, it seems especially pertinent that our comedians are addressing social change. Proving they can make us laugh and make us care, without resorting to making comedy at the expense of others. Parker has one of the greatest tools any artist can have in this regard: a heart.

And the heart of Camp Binch is the necessity of spaces for outsiders. Of a finding a sense of belonging. For artists, for geeks, for gays, for whoever. A truly cathartic hour of comedy that inspires empathy as well as laughs.

Chris Parker plays The Basement until 12 May. 

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