Roquing it [by Matt Baker]
The New Zealand International Comedy Festival asks performers to come up with a title well before most of them have come up with their actual show, and for comedian James Roque the situation is no different. The tie in to his eponymous pun is loose, but Roque sticks with the rule of comedy, offering three tips by which he’s attempting to live his life at the ripe age of 23. It’s the start of something big for Roque, who, from writing for Jono and Ben to performing on After Hours AotearoHA Driving Stories, proudly and deservedly labels himself a full-time comedian.
Projections provide plenty of visual comedy, to which Roque later adds a musical element. For those who have seen Roque perform before, it’s a chance to see him take his love of rap one step further. It also allows him to wrap up the show in a single bit, and the audience to get double the laughs for their money.
The only element that doesn’t fit in Roque’s set is the cursing. While its use is scarce, and there is one particularly justified WTF observation, it’s otherwise too strong a juxtaposition with Roque’s amiable personality and the cleanliness of his material. It’s a minor inconvenience, but its remedying would allow for Roque to reach the wider mainstream audiences he deserves.
The Filipino factor is another common component of Roque’s material, but it’s not a lazy reliance on pointing out cultural differences just for a laugh, it’s an inherent part of his comedy and himself. It’s a self-reflection that will in time become more introspective, and, consequently, garner even greater material in the years ahead for this up-and-coming young comedian.
James Roque plays as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival at The Basement until May 9. For details see Comedy Festival.