[You Won’t Believe what Matt Baker says about Eli Matthewson in this Review]
Having trained as an actor and worked as a writer for Funny Girls, and Jono and Ben, it makes perfect sense that 2015 Billy T Award nominated comedian Eli Matthewson, under the direction of theatrical daredevil Kip Chapman, would step from straight stand up to sketch comedy for this year’s New Zealand International Comedy Festival. The rhetorical title for the show (Wow! You Won’t Believe This Disney Prince Reimagined As An Absolute Comedy Legend!) is perfect, not only as meta marketing strategy, but also as a clue to the content of the work.
Sketch comedy traditionally requires a minimum of two performers, and with the use of both technological and audience participation Matthewson achieves this fundamental dynamic to great comedic effect. Matthewson’s commentary on life in the modern digital age should not be underestimated. Search beyond the surface of the jokes and you’ll find a criticism that doesn’t condemn Generation Z, but exposes them for their lack of self-censorship and obsession with garnering knowledge through new platforms. From YouTube channels to podcasts, Matthewson illustrates the objective absurdity of these technological advances and the potential degree to which they may soon arrive – it’s hilarious, but also slightly harrowing.
The format of the show is relatively new territory for Matthewson. By employing a combination of his various skill sets he is approaching new work by actively challenging himself and consequently evolving as a performer. While the consistency of laughs is comparable to last year’s critically acclaimed Faith, this is to be expected in such courageous development of comedic craft, and, if anything, proves Matthewson’s endurance and future as one of New Zealand’s top young comedians.
Wow! You Won’t Believe This Disney Prince Reimagined As An Absolute Comedy Legend! is performed by Eli Matthewson and played at Basement Theatre until May 7 as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival 2016. For details see Comedy Festival