The 2016 NZ International Comedy Festival will be hitting our shores from 22nd April – 15th May, showcasing dozens of local and international comedians. In the weeks leading up to New Zealand’s biggest comedy event of the year, I will be talking to several acts about their upcoming shows.
If you’re looking for a perfect Mother’s Day gift for Sunday 8th May, head along to “Wash Your Mouth Out”, a comedy line up show featuring Tim Muller, Dave Nicholls, Melanie Bracewell, and special guest James Mustapic.
The concept is the same as their successful show last year in that it is a family-friend, bring-your-grandma comedy show that everyone from teenagers to the elderly will enjoy. Tim clarifies the premise of the show,
“The tagline we use is “smart, not smut” so it’s not a kid’s show. It’s still adult humour in the sense of being intelligent and interesting for adults, not in the sense of [being offensive]”.
Adult content solely in the sense of being thought-provoking interests me. In my opinion, it’s actually pretty rare to see comedians perform with no swearing or debatably offensive material and Tim and I agree that comedy for the sake of shocking people is almost predictable now. A lot of comedy acts incorporate shock comedy and while it can be outrageously funny when done well, it can also fall flat when it is done for the sole purpose of being shocking.
Tim explains that while he is not strict with his writing and there are many styles of comedy he finds funny, family-friendly material tends to be his default setting. I relate to him well on this; I can find outrageous, offensive, so not-politically-correct humour hilarious whereas my own style of comedy is naturally free of profanity and controversial topics.
“I’m talking a bit about my kids,” Tim says thoughtfully when I ask about inspirations for “Wash Your Mouth Out”. “I’m a scientist so I talk a bit about that. There’s not a defining theme for the show… Dave talks a lot about his work – he’s done all sorts of interesting things. At the moment he does Sales, but before that he was an emergency nurse and before that he was a police officer and before that he was a pro-fighter. So he’s got all sorts of interesting stories. It’ll be a fairly broad set of topics, hopefully there will be something interesting in it for most people.”
It does indeed sound like a wide range of stories, and I ask if Tim will be talking more about politics,
“I do talk a bit about politics. Yeah, it is [a personal interest]; someone’s got to point out what a bunch of idiots those guys are.”
Not only does he talk about his interests on stage, he also performs songs about them – something that might catch the audience off guard. More often than not, comedians tend to either stick to spoken stand up or only be a musical comedy act. There will be one or two songs in his act for the musically-enthused but Tim tries to keep a balance between songs and spoken comedy.
“I’ve got a little project to write a song about the leaders of all of the New Zealand political parties. So if you come along you’ll get the latest installment of that. I did a John Key song last year so I’m up to Andrew Little.”
It interests me to know what the process for writing comedy songs is because, as it happens, I am far from musically gifted. I’ve almost come to terms with this… but to be honest, no I haven’t. The writing process doesn’t seem all that different for those who are gifted though.
“If I’m writing a song I try as much as possible to write jokes in it that would be funny if they weren’t in a song. I try to keep the two processes as similar as possible.”
Incidentally, writing happens to be Tim’s favourite part of comedy, “I really enjoy writing comedy. It’s pretty cool to make yourself laugh or to surprise yourself with an idea”. I wholeheartedly agree; I’ve found it’s something quite fantastic to be able to laugh all day every day simply because of your own imagination.
Writing doesn’t come without challenges though and due to the topics Tim covers as a scientist and being very much interested in politics, he makes sure to stay relatable to the audience. Nowadays, he is performing in comedy clubs throughout Auckland and Hamilton weekly and knows there’s always more to talk about on stage. As with many comedians I’ve spoken to, Tim also tries to change the audience’s minds about important topics where possible.
“It’s trying to take those things and package them in a way that is interesting to people who wouldn’t normally be interested in politics or science… I’m trying to write some more things, cover a few more controversial topics – not for the sake of being controversial, [they] also happen to be interesting.”
With a wide range of topics and comedians on the line-up, “Wash Your Mouth Out” will be a great show for adults of all ages. They are performing just one show on Mother’s Day so make sure to get in fast before tickets are all sold out. As the talented comedian team says, “Tickets for this show will be a much better gift for Mum than that toilet brush you got her last year”.
Who: Tim Muller
What: “Wash Your Mouth Out”, performing alongside Dave Nicholls, Melanie Bracewell, and James Mustapic for the 2016 International Comedy Festival
Where: Loft at Q Theatre
Dates: 8th May 2016
Tickets: $15 – $20. You can purchase Tickets here.