REVIEW: Inosi Colavanua: Guard Down (NZ International Comedy Festival)

Review by Matt Baker

[Billy T Nominee in the Making]

22-year-old Inosi Colavanua is a relative newcomer to the Auckland comedy scene, but a nomination for the 2015 NZ Comedy Guild Best Newcomer and runner-up for the 2016 Raw Comedy Quest indicates his immediate potential, and while a debut solo show during the NZ Comedy Festival in the Q Cellar at 10pm for two nights only is an arguably difficult time to vie for an audience, Colavanua provides his patrons with an hour of comedy that reinforces the deservedness of these early recognitions.

Reflecting on his upbringing as a “plastic Fijian”, his time in the church, and dating, Colavanua brings a unique perspective to the burgeoning diversity of Auckland’s comedy scene, with a humour that resonates beyond superficial stereotypes, and exposes moments of genuine honesty. With his measured cadence, at times it was easy to see where Colavanua was heading with a joke, before he subverted the moment with a call-back or left field comment that demonstrated an excellent understanding of his craft.

Unfortunately, these shifts are undermined by one particular audience member. Presumably a friend of Colavanua due to his familiar yet dismissive banter, I truly hope that person understands that when they got white-girl wasted, they ruined the opening night of his debut solo show. At times, Colavanua also pushes a joke or two beyond its natural punchline, but such navigating of material will easily develop over time with exposure to more audiences – which he thoroughly deserves.

Guard Down is an excellent premise, which allows Colavanua to cut through the crap that many comedians have to wade through to find “their” funny. There is no doubt that if he continues down this path of honest and humourous self-reflection, Colavanua can become a household name as New Zealand’s best Fijian comedian. A Billy T nominee in the making, best catch him at the start of this journey.

Inosi Colavanua plays Q Cellar until 28 April. 

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