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FRINGE '04 REVIEW: The Stand-up Show

Auckland comedians Mike Loder and Mark Smith’s Fringe Festival 2004 Stand-up Show ‘showed promise but died too soon’ in a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The Stand-up Show by Mike Loder and Mark Smith: Do Ya Think I’m Funny? Um…


Reviewed by Nicola Hill

Where: Circa Studio
When: 3-6 March
Star Rating 2 ** = Bearable

At the outset of ‘The Stand-up Show’ with Mike Loder and Mark Smith, Loder joked that the comedians “showed promise but died too soon”. This regrettably proved to be a self-fulfilling prophesy, and another gory spectacle in the brutal blood sport of New Zealand stand-up comedy. The Stand-up Show is in its fifth year as part of the New Zealand Fringe Festival and may well be on its last legs.

Loder is the anchor for the show and winner of the Billy T Comedy Award 2000. With an engaging and natural style, Loder’s comedy is based on improvisation and interaction with the audience. He shies away from conventional material and tries to make the ordinary funny. He uses his wheelchair to good - if now predictable - effect. Smith is a side-kick with a similar style. The comedians took turns to deliver long solo routines on a range of every-day subjects from real estate to tramping.

Loder’s habit of seeking affirmation from the audience was endearing at first but rapidly became a craven attempt at staying alive on stage. In the final throes of this one hour show, Loder revealed that he had broken up with his girlfriend a week before Valentine’s Day – a last desperate attempt for sympathy perhaps, in a show where he never really appeared to be enjoying himself. Apologetic and with low energy, the two comedians rarely sparked or lived up their years of experience on stage.

The comedians suffered from a target demographic malfunction. These Aucklanders did not adjust their material for the Wellington crowd and suffered for it. Making fun of cultural icon Colin McCahon just doesn’t gain traction here in quite the same way. Circa is also not an ideal venue for stand-up - the small crowd that found its way to the show had precious little of their own teeth, let alone a laugh-out-loud sensibility. But this did mean that the crowd was kinder than they would have been elsewhere.

The Stand-Up Show is not recommended unless you are over fifty and living in Auckland.

ENDS

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