REVIEW: Terry Alderton (Comedy Festival)

Terry Alderton
Terry Alderton - "back by popular demand".

Be afraid, be very very afraid! [by Sharu Delilkan]

Terry Alderton
Terry Alderton - "back by popular demand".

I have to admit that when the usher led me to my seat, right in front of the stage, I immediately asked to swap for a seat further behind because I was not ready to be the butt of the jokes that night.

I could just see the comedian for the night Terry Alderton ripping the shit out of me if he spied me with my pen and pad – sitting in the dark, two tables back seemed like a wise decision.

And sure enough the people who ended up occupying the very table offered to me, were the centre of attention for most of the evening.

Phew! That was a narrow escape.

Now seated comfortably with a candle to illuminate the pages of my notepad I was ready to take in whatever was dished out.  Or so I thought.

I immediately loved Alderton’s zany, intelligent and innovative show.   The use of a schizophrenic Gollum-esque alter ego (spoken with his back to the audience in devlish, high pitched tones) was an extremely original comedic device, I thought, when I had seen him at the Comedy Gala televised on TV3 a couple of weekends ago.

But it is so much more than that, allowing him to punctuate the show’s painful but comedic awkward moments with exactly what the audience is thinking, and to egg himself on to do more and more outlandish things to them – particularly if you’re sitting in the front row.

I now realise, however, that Alderton’s alter ego is not a ‘comedic device’.  It’s just one aspect of an incredibly versatile and genius performance that incorporates funky dance, mime, reversal replays, accents and imitations, observational comedy, stories, audience participation, sound effects, physical comedy and utter insanity.

It’s his ‘fly by the seat of his pants’ attitude that makes you sit on the edge of your seat asking yourself “What next?”

He is clearly wishing to please and entertain, evidenced by his obvious in-depth research and observation of Kiwi and other cultures, rather than relying on a well-rehearsed routine.

‘Duck Smuth’, ‘Tuntun’, Christchurch, an amazing audition for the part of a monster for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit – all fall prey to Alderton’s razor sharp-claw like-witty-talon-hilarity.

The amusing divide and conquer of “real Auckland” vs “arty Wellington” audiences is capped with the revelation that he had to explain to Wellingtonians that his show was not actually a one-man play about a comedian.

Alderton’s mastery of sound effects is sublime as is his mimicry of a multitude of foreign accents– including American, Canadian, West Country, a London geezer, Mumbai, Scottish, South African and Welsh.

He clearly loves to experiment and is pleased when it works but seems almost more delighted when it doesn’t, allowing him some fantastic one-liners in retort, from his alter ego, to express his disappointment and self-degradation.

All of this along with some willing audience involvement lifts the show to something more than just a bloke showing off on stage.

After headlining at last year’s The Big Show, Alderton is back with a bang with his solo show.   This is probably the first time I actually believe the tagline that says “back by popular demand”.

The energetic comedian’s physical performance left me panting at the end of the show.  One minute he’s shouting at the top of his lungs emulating the grand prix circuit and the next he’s doing a handstand with his legs in the air.

I for one felt elated and exhausted when I left The Classic.  Truly the best thing I have seen this festival by far.

Voted Best International Guest last year Alderton is a courageous and sometimes vulnerable comedian that deserves the excellent response he got from tonight’s audience. 

The Times, UK called him “Effortlessly enjoyable yet excitingly different” but I would like to say the opposite.  For me he was “excitingly enjoyable and effortlessly different”.

See it or you’ll regret it. productions presents Terry Alderton at The Classic, until 21 MayMore information at NZ International Comedy Festival website.

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