NZ International Comedy Festival: Chris Parker - review
Because we, as Aucklanders, see most of our comedy in one short burst each year in late April/early May, it’s easy to tire of stand up and want to go to something different just because it’s something different.
Chris Parker is different. The second of two shows at this year’s festival to receive the support of the Creative Comedy Initiative, No More Dancing in the Good Room is a one-man play about that man’s growing up and coming out.
What comedy there is comes largely from repetition: the repetition of phrase, dance move, gesture. The show is a bright burst of dance and repetition that flames out in under 40 minutes, following a poignant and cleverly choreographed multimedia dance sequence.
It’s a merciless onslaught and like much good comedy, it’s sometimes hard to watch, but unlike good comedy it’s hard to watch mostly because it’s sad. Behind much comedy is much sadness, but in Parker’s show the sadness is on the surface.
In the disintegrating enthusiasm and incipient madness of the opening dance number, it’s difficult to know whether the correct response is the hard forced laugh, of which there were some at last night’s opening show, or the slightly gaping mouth, of which there was at least mine.
There are laughs, but the hard repetition of difficult moments soon strips them of their comedy and reveals the raw stalk of sadness at the heart of what’s happening and leaves you wondering about the correctness of laughter as a response.
The show chucks you out into the carpark of the basement feeling uneasy and unsure of what you’ve just seen, wondering if it should have been in a comedy festival at all. You’ll feel challenged and maybe even cheated. Your worldview might shift slightly. You’ll maybe want to go see some vanilla stand-up to remind yourself what you come to a comedy festival for. These are all valid responses.
To May 9. comedyfestival.co.nz