Within minutes of Phil Nichol walking on-stage I knew that his show ‘Your Wrong’ would be something different. Very different as it turns out.
Before going any further, I feel that it’s important to note that matter how many reviews you read about Phil Nichol, you’ll never truly be prepared for watching him live.
The critically acclaimed Canadian (or Brit depending on who you talk to) is known for his high-energy and sweat drenched performances. I knew enough to expect that the comic would bounce around The Classic with manic energy, I knew that his jokes would be delivered at break-neck speed, and I knew to expect the unexpected.
What I didn’t know to expect is how deeply moving and personal his show, ‘Your Wrong‘ would be. It was raw, it was relatable, it was affecting – all while being sidesplittingly funny. I laughed so hard that it actually hurt (admittedly, now that I’m in my thirties a lot of things now hurt).
I could never have foreseen how much of a force of nature he would be. He gave all of himself out there, creating an untranslatable energy on stage that you couldn’t help but be affected by – a comedic shock to the system if you will. It’s was really something else. Again, you really need to see it to believe it.
Need further convincing?
The alternative-comedy legend arrives at our shores after a stellar Edinburgh Festival run that was met with some of the best reviews of his career.
Nichol explains at the start that ‘Your Wrong’ is a conventional storytelling show with a beginning, middle and end. He’s not entirely wrong – just purposefully obtuse maybe?
The show might take its inspiration from the all-too-familiar point-scoring arguments that take place in social media comments sections (you know the ones, someone anti-something (vaccines, 1080, the earth being round – take your pick) replies to a well-reasoned comment with an infuriating (and poorly spelled) ‘your wrong’), there’s nothing conventional about where it ends up.
Most comedians could mine this topic for a few good one-liners, Nichol chooses to instead use it as a launching pad for an intricately crafted, surprisingly philosophical, and deeply personal examination of the nature of faith, family, and right and wrong.
Born from a deeply religious family, questions of faith have obviously been preying (excuse the pun) on the comedian’s mind. It’s hard to talk about Nichol’s set without spoiling it other than by commenting on how powerful and moving it turned out to be. Nichol uses a trio of formative experiences (growing up in a deeply religious family, being cheated on by his wife, and trying to deal with a car crash which left his brother Andrew in a coma) to examine ‘being wrong’ and his issues with accepting it as being an inevitable part of being human.
The rollercoaster hour (and a bit) diverged from stock standard stand-up, by throwing in amusing non-sequiturs, impressions, musical comedy, gut-punch gags, and even a bit of Shakespeare. I kid you not. Tying in all these strands together is a big ask for any comedian, but Nichol takes up the challenge with ease. Again, I’m doing the show no justice by writing about it, you should just go ahead and book those tickets now.
Being able to watch comedians like Phil Nichol deliver shows like ‘Your Wrong’ is what makes the New Zealand International Comedy Festival so great. The show goes beyond comedy – it makes you laugh, and it makes you think. It’s speaks a universal truth while telling a deeply personal story. It’s easy to watch while being hard to fathom. It was wild, it was unexpected, it was brilliant – and above-all it was hilarious. Go watch it while you still can.
What: Your Wrong
Who: Phil Nichol
When: 8.30pm, 14-25 May
Where: The Classic