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Fringe Festival Review: The Lonesome Buckwhips

Fringe Festival Review: The Return Of The Lonesome Buckwhips

Review by Lyndon Hood

The Return of the
Lonesome Buckwhips
Click to enlarge

The Return Of The Lonesome Buckwhips
Happy (Cnr Tory St & Vivian St)
14 - 18 Feb, 6pm
Duration 1 hour.
$12 / $10 / $8

I think I've found that underclass John Key was looking for.

Arty, Benny and Gary Buckwhip, performing with Arty's new bride Miri Buckwhip, "grew up mean" in a broken, welfare-defauding home and have a collective age in prison-years that exceeds their individual expected lifespans. They're back, and they're here to share their pain.

If they actually behaved like that you probably wouldn't want to go to one of their gigs. As it is, they're obviously a bunch of nice and reasonably educated people making a pretence at being lowlifes. The non-scariness allows their comedy to work; the pretence sits nicely with one of their basic methods: making funny jokes - with not-entirely-clear levels of irony - about wildly inappropriate things. Starving Africans, the mainstreaming of Maori culture, religion, criminal activity - that kind of stuff.

When they launched into their Malboro-sponsored anthem on the benefits of smoking, I started to think I had finally found something I could call 'politically incorrect' and feel like the description was actually meaningful.

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Framed as a music gig, most of the show is in the between-song patter. Much of it came about because the performance coincided with Gary Buckwhip's release on probation and they chose to hold their reunion in front of an audience. The Buckwhips have nearly as many issues with each other as they do with the rest of the world. The rest of the world in general and Barry Saunders and the Warratahs in particular.

As noted above, what was going on wasn't exactly acting, but the mixture of shaggy dog stories and deadpan interaction-based comedy went down brilliantly in the intimate and informal venue, with even the most quietly-muttered asides broadcast to the entire room over the PA.

And in all this artfully shambolic preparation, the music was great too. The songs range from funny to hilarious, and these guys can - for some reason this surprises me - actually play their instruments (guitar, guitar, fiddle and keys). After some teething issues with the sound, the countryness came through loud and clear. The vocal harmonies scattered through the songs were a musical highlight and may be the reason some of the phrases still keep popping into my head now.

It's tempting to compile a list of the best lines from the songs, even though 'The Bean Song' doesn't lend itself to that sort of thing. It might give you some idea to knowing the Buckwhips' entry for that Interislander advert (the one that, in the end, used The Warratahs' 'Cruising on the Interislander') was called 'The Wahine was a Once-Off'. Or maybe you'll just have to go and see for yourself.


The Return of the Lonesome Buckwhips press release
Fringe 07 website
Scoop Full Coverage: Fringe 07

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