It’s always a little awkward trying to figure out what a comedian’s about from a cold start, but Eamonn Marra’s own awkwardness somehow undercuts the audience’s unease. I mean, he starts with sheep jokes. Okay, to be fair, it’s not the usual run-of-the-mill farm sheep jokes. They’re a little more upper class, sort of like going from a shitty rum and coke to a slightly better bourbon and coke. Not that it’s any sort of grand improvement, but it is an improvement on some level. Yet there’s this slight cringe you soon start to realise is all part of the act – as the joke goes far longer than it should – which is somewhat endearing, and at the very least identifiable in all our lives.

Somehow getting over depression and becoming significantly “over-functional”, as Marra puts it, this is a show about exactly what comes after it. There’s a lot of self-referencing, and the amount of time he spends going on about his four jobs and how awkward some time it all is, is so relatable there’s a certain kind of “dude, we’re with you” even as we laugh our faces off. Marra never once stands in the way of his own jokes, and unlike many male performers who seem to feed off certain masculine types of comedy, his is a little more nuanced, and a little bit more relaxed. It’s also very highly structured – there are distinct breaks between broad “sets” of jokes, even as each set builds on the one before.

He’s also totally committed to his jokes. And I mean that in certain comedians will tell a joke, and sort of pretend to act it out as they’re telling it, and it’s still funny. But no, not Marra. There’s a bit where he tells of how he’s running along to music on his phone, and he fully commits to the running. He actually starts running on the spot, and the joke is so much better as the audience not only hears the monologue of what’s happening, but also the physical actions he’s not spelling out for you, and it’s all the more entertaining. For a stand-up, that’s as much as you can ask for, really.

The show comes full circle as he replays his opening segment, in a slightly different way. But now, it’s all the more funnier, as the slow build-up from everything in between culminates in the reason why he’s going back to the beginning. And it makes sense, but I won’t spoil it for you. I mean, you’ll really have to be there to get the full effect of that sheep joke.

DETAILS

What: Dignity

Who: Eamonn Marra

When: 27 – 28 April

Where: Basement Theatre – Studio

NZ International Comedy Festival In Review: Eamonn Marra - 'Dignity'
Eamonn Marra's comedy is nuanced, relaxed, and cleverly structured. His commitment to seeing his jokes through pays off in spades.
  • Absolute commitment to jokes
  • Refreshingly unique delivery
  • Brilliant structure
8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
10.0

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