REVIEW: John Gordillo Cheap Shots at the Defenceless (NZ International Comedy Festival)

John Gordillo certainly makes us think.

‘Ceriously’ Cerebral Comedy [by Sharu Delilkan]

John Gordillo certainly makes us think.
John Gordillo certainly makes us think.

It was hard not to overhear some of the great crowd comments as we filed out of The Classic following John Gordillo’s show Cheap Shots at the Defenceless – “high brow”, “excellent”, “different” and “hilarious”, to name a few.

It all started with a bang and the capacity crowd hushed before the man himself arrived on stage, quite unassuming and very English-looking. In his intro he takes the trouble to explain the somewhat quirky show, which you realise is necessary to appreciate the format that ensues.

Multi-media, audio visual, impressions, pisstakes and even short films are utilised to great effect. What started out as random facts were woven together in a pretty package at the end of the hour. And his typically English understated delivery endeared him to the audience immediately.

Having seen this evening’s show it’s not surprising that Gordillo is being lauded as “one of the key shapers of the modern comedy landscape in the UK”.

And although he may not be a widely recognised name in NZ, I’m sure it must be true that he’s the writer, director and benevolent Svengali that has helped to set many a major stand-up star on the road to greatness, which includes the likes of the infamous Eddie Izzard!

But it is evident that in his own right he’s a spectacularly creative comic, using politics, romance and family relationships as propellers for wildly ambitious social theorising and brilliantly funny comedy. And his show Cheap Shots at the Defenceless genuinely makes you cogitate in a whole new way, while managing to keep you laughing throughout – a skill that definitely should be, and was, applauded.

Gordillo is more of a mad professor/philosopher/earnest-idiot-Savant than a traditional stand-up, which definitely went down a treat with the audience. Great to see a show with a social message, a point, and chickens that don’t just/even cross the road!

As mentioned before Gordillo tends to explain a lot which occasionally belabours his points, but what he does impart is an important message which is very original and provides unique insight into society’s ills and quirks.

I have to say his gentle, good-natured and inclusive dealings with the odd heckle was masterful – allowing him to keep to his themes without having to destroy the heckler entirely. My co-blogger Matt Baker would have been proud. See his post Comedy Fest Hecklers: Shut Up

Your certainly get your money’s worth with Gordillo’s 70-minute show of earnest hilarity and honest observational comedy.

Why Gordillo has taken this long to make his debut at the NZ International Comedy Festival, I have no idea. But having seen and heard him in the flesh I can understand why the festival has been courting him for over a decade.

Gordillo admitted that he didn’t really rate reviews and reviewers at the start of his show so we had to illicitly scribble on our notepads to begin with. However I’m going to give him three stars – I’m just not going to say out of how many…it wouldn’t be right!

Presented by comedy.co.nz Productions Ltd, John Gordillo’s Cheap Shots at the Defenceless and plays at The Classic until Sat 17 May. Details see NZ International Comedy Festival

SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Nik Smythe

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