It was a clear Wednesday day evening, a day usually labelled hump day, made brighter by the comedy festival, and the light pollution associated with living in a heavily populated urban area, which I suppose is sad because we can barely see the stars in the sky, but at the same time it’s not as if humans can see in the dark. We might not have seen the stars regardless, Auckland weather promised periodic clouds, sweeping slowly across the sky, pushed by a 14KM/h SSW wind. Luckily the star we wanted to see that night wasn’t in the sky, but at The Basement.
We made our way up the stairs to the basement studio, to see Nic Sampson and his latest show Unfinished Business. Sampson is becoming a well-known figure on New Zealand television, featuring on Jono & Ben and Funny Girls. Sampson also displays his acting ability on crime drama The Brokenwood Mysteries. In regards to the NZ International Comedy Festival, he is well known for shows that blur the line between stand-up comedy and theatre, usually involving him performing comedy in a ludicrous situation. (I.e. down a well or while pulling off a jewellery heist)
This year he’s reached into the supernatural, tackling the whims of the various undead souls undead souls due to an unheeded chain email from the late 90s, incurring the wrath of spirits from beyond the grave.
As I walked into the studio greeted with the pleasant sound of funky music, I noticed two things in particular, firstly there was a box with “lost and found written on it.” and secondly, the fact that there was no microphone stand, a curious sight to behold at a comedy festival show.
Sampson made his way on stage to the applause of a full house sans microphone, instead using his ability to project his voice within the studio space, a wise decision as there is a lot of movement involved in this show.
He opened the show with some great observational comedy about the chain email craze in the late 90s/early 00s, and a funny story related to his childhood. He then eased into the bulk of the show, his task, to send restless spirits into the afterlife.
Unfinished Business is a solid undertaking in comedy, theatre and storytelling. To this end Sampson uses act outs, sketches, mime and an excellent use of character comedy, conjuring a number of curious personalities, bringing them to life, using only the items in The Basement “lost and found” box, before sending them off one by one into their final destination. In this endevour Sampson uses the tech available to him to great effect, punctuating his performance with an effective use of light and sound.
Nic Sampson is growing into one of New Zealand’s most talented performers, who always manages to provide audiences with a must see experience. In Unfinished Business, Sampson combines stand up and theatre, taking it into a fun and interesting place.
This show is the full package, with emotional highs and lows, and with a pay off filled climax which ties everything nicely together. I’d recommend this show to anyone, particularly to fans of both theatre and comedy, get in fast though, he’s sure to sell out.
What: Unfinished Business
Who: Nic Sampson
When: 7.15PM, 8 – 12 May
Where: Basement Studio
- Interesting concept
- "Must See" Experience
- Excellent Use of Sound and Lighting