Horseplay [by Matt Baker]
You can’t keep a man from great literature, and you can’t keep a crowd from great comedy. Dressed to the nines and ready for a crowd, Jamie Bowen, Nick Gibb, and Rhys Mathewson are as cavalier in every sense of the word as modern day Auckland can allow them to be. Their irreverence, however, is never uncouth. It would be easy for the show to be sucked down into a void of misogyny and chauvinism, but even in the pre-show banter with the audience, Bowen is able to delicately deflect this. The stage is set in 3D surround, which works surprisingly well, but what makes The Cavaliers really come together, however, is the gents’ comedic compatibility with one another. There’s constant banter, and at one point they absolutely nail a one-liner trifecta.
There’s even a guest appearance by Matt Stellingwerf, whose self-deprecating observation on his appearance is topped by Gibb’s “an albino samurai at a funeral.” Stellingwerf doesn’t get a chance to get any of his own material out, but he manages to justify his being there with plenty of one-liners, however, the text he reads out does go too far. Joseph Moore, however, who plays the electricivories and has just finished his own solo show downstairs, has a brilliantly brutal read from his own phone.
The key to The Cavaliers is that no show will ever be the same – as Bowen intricately, albeit hurriedly, explains. At the 40-minute mark Mathewson notes that they’ve only done two out of the eight bits they had planned, banter only has kept the audience entertained thus far. Each man does, however, have a signature sketch in the spotlight. Gibb tries out some hilariously new material, Mathewson impressively dances his way through a surrealist poo joke, and Bowen grounds himself with a theatrical endeavour.
People often mistake being funny in everyday life being translatable to on-stage talent, but making your mates laugh does not equate genuine comedic ability. Here, however, the relaxed atmosphere feels like the audience as a whole has not only decided to let the funniest men in the group gathered on the night run with a long-winded gag, but is also completely aware of and trusting in their collective skill.
Long-winded may be its downfall, however. For an 11pm start, the show begins to wane when it hits the hour plus mark. This is more likely due to audience attention span at a particular time in their circadian rhythm than with the men or material, as I no doubt could have invested more had it been an earlier show, but such is the nature of The Cavaliers. If you’re looking for a second or third show to complete a comedy festival evening, or some late-night post-dinner entertainment, The Cavaliers will be your knights in shining armour.
The Cavaliers plays at Montecristo until May 2. For details see Comedy Festival.