On Monday night I was outside the Classic telling telling Mr Comedy, Scott Blanks, that while I'd enjoyed what I'd seen so far of the 2014 New Zealand International Comedy Festival, nothing I'd seen had actually blown me away. And then I went inside and got blown away.
Carey Marx's show Intensive Carey is the story of his heart attack and subsequent troubled recovery. Anyone who's seen Marx at work knows his comedy can be bleak. Well, in parts, this show is really bleak. But at no point on Monday did it feel uncomfortable or like something we shouldn't be hearing. It was funny, ribald in places, blazingly honest and, in the end, quite moving.
Marx performed this show last year in Britain, but I got the impression that he hadn't done it for a while and the first 10 or 15 minutes of its New Zealand premiere were a bit lumpy. It also clearly takes Marx himself to some dark emotional places in the telling. But I really can't recommend this show highly enough.
Elsewhere, I caught the 5 Star Comedy Preview of eight British comics at SkyCity and singled out Sarah Pascoe, John Gordillo and the mad Irishman Michael Legge as the solo shows to see, which we will be doing. And I enjoyed Jeremy Elwood's show in the Q Vault, in which he grumpily set the world straight on everything from gay marriage to gun control, but couldn't help but feel I might have missed the better show on opening night, when an AV failure happily brought Tourettes to the stage to do his video turn live.
The festival has handled review access really well this year and has been rewarded with plenty of reviews -- some of them glowing, like Joe Nunweek's review of Joseph Moore, and some of them, like this review for the Ruminator of Brendhan Lovegrove, scathing.
The festival is, I gather, going well after some patchy crowds during the consecutive holiday weekends. Even just on the level of the sheer extent to which it mobilises crowds from a range of demographics, it's a phenomenon. I can't wait for more.