REVIEW: Donna Brookbanks: You Do You Babes (NZ International Comedy Festival)

Review by Rachael Longshaw-Park

[Put Your Hands Up]

Auckland seems to be teeming with strong female comedians this year. Donna Brookbanks is a prime example: not only funny, but incredibly multifaceted. Nominated for this year’s Billy T award, Brookbanks is back with her ‘sort of’ inspirational comedy show You Do You Babes.

Brookbanks isn’t here to mess around; from the moment the doors open she’s there, donned in a black robe, ushering us all in like a flock of sheep. What awaits us is a service for the members of the Church of the Latter Day Singles – all the single ladies are to put their hands up and Brookbanks leads the way.

After a strong opening, the show launches into a packed and fast paced live performance. You Do You Babes is a mixture of traditional stand-up interspersed with physical comedy sketches and pop culture inspired spoofs. We’re treated to a particularly funny mime of the MTV hit show Cribs, but in Brookbanks’ own modest apartment (complete with indecisive cat), that shows off Brookbanks’ command of the space.

Building upon her approach last year, it’s clear that Brookbanks has matured in her writing ability as the show, the show building comedically with a strong recurring joke that sees Brookbanks sucked into a cyclical recurring nightmare about turning up late with no pants. However, the show falters towards the end in a way that feels scrambled together to relate to the title of the show.

There’s a lot crammed into the hour which weakens the structure a little. With some refining the show could settle into something a little less chaotic and perhaps find a stronger ending. It’s clear that Brookbanks has buckets of talent to share around and the audience are along for the ride every step of the way. Where the material falls short, Brookbanks saves the day with her endearing, awkward charm, and her unstoppable energy. A show like this isn’t easy to pull off, and it’s a commendable effort by Brookbanks and director Hamish Parkinson.

Donna Brookbanks plays The Basement until 19th March. 

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