REVIEW: Lauren Mabbett and Marika Jackson: Daily Dilemmas (NZ International Comedy Festival)

Review by Rachael Longshaw-Park

[Do more with less]

It seems the new brand of comedian demands a more diverse show – mixed medium comedy shows are more and more common these days, beginning to outweigh traditional stand up. While stand up still sits at the core of many of these shows, now we get sketches and satire peppered in too. Daily Dilemmas, written and performed by Lauren Mabbett and Marika Jackson, is another example of this trend.

The show opens with a short sketch about the two people who are definitely not watching The Bachelor, which is extremely promising, then the two comedians welcome us to the show and proceed to riff with each other and the audience about the concept and name of the show. It’s about the awkward moments we all encounter every day – nothing particularly profound, but incredibly relatable. The duo co-author a blog by the same name as this show for Speakeasy, presumably where the idea ruminated as some of the material in the show is taken from the blog.

It’s clear that some good thought went into construction of the performance, however, it’s a little sloppy, with both performers seeming flustered by the arrangement. Both comedians are at their best in their own stand up time, with the weaker moments of the show coming when both comedians riff on stage about everyday problems. It feels improvised, but not in a good way, and goes on for far too long. Quick thinking on stage is an essential skill for any comedian, but it seems illogical to force the situation if it’s not your strength.

Jackson harnesses her awkward charm in her stand-up section. She’s incredibly relatable with stories about her ultra-marathoning sister and her overseas boyfriend, and she’s slick once she settles into her routine. Mabbett is less consistent in her performance but provokes bigger laughs. She has a keen eye for observational comedy, but her structuring of her jokes doesn’t give her performance room to breathe.

At one stage a drunk heckler started to interrupt the show continually, and both comedians dealt with this confidently. Jackson kept the peace and Mabbett nipped it in the bud with some quick wit. Thankfully, the heckler didn’t pipe up again, but the audience was soothed by their handling of the situation and relaxed back into the show quick sharp.

Overall, the show has promising aspects; both performers have some solid material and keep the room chuckling away for the hour. Their handling of hecklers shows both are capable working under pressure, however, the sticky improvising felt flat and would be better replaced with more sketches or stand up. In this instance, Jackson and Mabbett may not have the skills to pull of such a varied performance and should instead stick to their strengths.

Lauren Mabbett and Marika Jackson played Q Cellar 16 – 19 May. 

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