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Arts Fest Review: James Campbell's Comedy 4 Kids

James Campbell's Comedy 4 Kids

Reviewed by Lyndon Hood

James Campbell's Comedy 4 Kids
March 4 and 5
The Festival Club

Most of the audience was unsurprisingly, children (the recommended minimum age was 6 - may seemed to be in the 8-10 bracket) and their parents. I don't fall into either category, but I was curious - stand-up comedy for children? Surely dirty jokes and swearing are intrinsic to the form? Surely children's little brains are not developed enough to enjoy stand-up?

It turns out that stand-up comedy for kids - James Campbell being the only example of it - works much the same way as stand-up for adults. Novel angles on common experience played out to entertainingly absurd extremes, picking out audience member to give you a feed line, amiable yarns, character pieces and simple jokes, all done by a nicely-dressed man with a chair and a microphone at his disposal.

Of course, most of the subject matter somehow involved children - including such matters as school and playstation games - and, apart from one joke involving the desperate need to pee, Campbell entirely avoided even little-kid grade profanity (it must be said I didn't notice anything missing). There wasn't a trace of condecention only rare moments of goofiness. It was indeed stand-up comedy as we know it, and entertaining with it.

Campbell's comedy did cover a few fields that might be considered "adult". Areas such as the weird involutary noises old people start making when they do things like sit down, and how difficult it is to deal with very small children. Though it's not reflected in the title, Campbell's show is for children and their parents. And people who like a lught, too.

It's a tribute to Campbell's skill and stage presense that the audience were attentive throughout. Given the age of the audience and the alarming gusts of wind that would periodically pass over the club, that's quite something. Campbell apparently speaks to teacher about dealing with groups of children - if he needed any special trick on this occasion, I didn't notice, which proabably just shows how good he is.

For all that it deepened his alarm at Wellington's summer weather, the wind and rain did afford Campbell with the opportunity (he said it was his second chance ever) to tell a joke you can only tell if there's water dripping from the roof. Being about an Elvis Presley song, it was basically one for the parents (if you really need to know what it was, contact Scoop).

Early on he told us we were a nice audience. Nice being the default on a child-behaviour scale that goes from good to bad. Or more fully, from angel to evil.

James Campbell is good.


NZ Festival: James Campbell's Comedy 4 Kids
Scoop Full Coverage: Festival 06

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