Tuesday May 8 – Saturday May 12 (7.00pm)
Like a lot of fresh Kiwi comics Rhian Wood-Hill appears, for most of his set, to be delivering a ramshackle-endearing, but largely unfunny and overly long, amateur TEDTalk. It’s so awkward as to be almost excruciating – there’s no timing to the jokes, there’s a palpable nervousness and though there’s a charm, that whole easy-going, earnest, yeah-but-nah Kiwi thing is rather annoying. Then there’s the way the jokes land – if they do – in a voice Ben Hurley borrowed from Ricky Gervais. That seems to get handed out like a starter-kit at Comedy Festival Orientation.
Wood-Hill’s show is about the bad decisions he’s made in life – cue: self-effacing overload as he talks about this particular show, his foray into acting and then comedy and – Yawn! – on it goes.
I check my watch. I sip politely. Clap politely. Struggle.
There are one or two technical issues with his largely unnecessary and deeply unfunny PowerPoint slides.
And as we ache towards the half-way mark, a small crowd, keen enough on a laugh – but needing a magnifying glass to spot any – it’s not really going well at all.
There are stories of misadventures and there’s ums and ahs and poorly timed puns and quips. There’s barely anything that would get called out as an actual joke in a line-up. And this is all worryingly familiar.
As a spoken-word show it finds its groove in the final 15 minutes. For Wood-Hill is, eventually, not without talent as a speaker. He’s kind and when he does relax he shows some heart and soul and in the end he shows a whole lot more than that.
It’s a big finish, well I guess it depends how you’re looking at it (or who’s looking at it) but it’s brave. And bold.
And so, yes, there’s hope in the end. And certainly heart. But is there humour? Not really. I’d have thought that the crucial component.
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