25 April 2014

Debt and scabies are funny

Amanda Witherell

26/02/2013 9:59:00 a.m.

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Debt and scabies are funny
Spider Dance,
Alexander Sparrow: Narcissistic Diva,
Signfeld & Freindz,
Corner Diary,
All Star Micetro,
Reviewed by Amanda Witherell.

So far, the thematic comedy shows are the weakest of Fringe humour – all have funny elements, but fail at pace or delivery, two key ingredients to carry an audience. Of the three this week, Corner Diary excelled – four actors reading snippets of their adolescent diaries, thus revealing silly and/or sinister young selves. It landed like a good episode of The Moth, an American radio show of people telling unscripted true stories.

Signfeld & Freindz opened with a requisite short film to fill Creative New Zealand funding requirements. Acted by sock puppets, it wasn’t very legible or funny, but the concept was, as were the other short media bits that formed Jonny Signfeld’s show. Overall, it didn’t gel, but it had some moments. Alexander Sparrow, in a dramatic hot pink silk scarf, detailed good reasons for calling himself a narcissistic diva, but with stiff delivery. He didn’t display the best of his gestures and banter until the end.  

As for improv, the Australian girl group Spider Dance had a hand in everything this week, beginning with their own show, fast-paced sketches more silly than seriously funny. One bit, a relationship between two employees and a boss, in which a tiny stuffed sheep plays the philandering man in charge, was hilarious. All Star Micetro took a different tack for their second of four performances: a duel between Wellington Improv Troupe and Spider Dance. A trans-Tasman laugh-off is a ripe minefield of cultural oddities and bad dialect. Technically, Australia won, but barely, so accomplished are these two groups.

The challenges were short and sweet, funny and fascinating, and produced my favourite line of all the Fringe comedy I’ve seen so far, from Spider Dance’s talented Anna Renzenbrink: “I’m riddled with debt and scabies.”

And lots of admiration from this reviewer. 

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