Words by Otis Letwin

“Fancy reviewing a comedy night?” my colleague asked me the other day. Shit yeah, of course I do. To date, my CV as a critic is exclusively limited to Uber drivers so I thought this was the perfect way to expand my repertoire. So, with a plus one in tow, I headed to the Sky City theatre to enjoy the Five Star Comedy Preview.

Ian Smith

Our host for the evening was Ian Smith. Like myself, Ian is British and hails from Goole in Yorkshire, just down the road from my native town. His northern twang and lack of consonants offered some familiarity which I have clearly subconsciously missed. He effortlessly blew the cobwebs out of any audience members suffering from a frustrating Friday afternoon and his slightly dishevelled appearance and self-deprecating demeanour made me like him more. Given that I haven’t matured since I was seven, his confirmation that he can shit whilst on the move left me particularly tickled. 3/5

Tom Houghton

First up was self-professed “posh twat” Tom Houghton. As a boarding school-educated, “posh twat” myself, I related to his comedy. With charm and plenty of talent to boot, Tom described life growing up in a military family as a flourishing thespian. He oozed class in more ways than one. 3.5/5

Chris Henry

Next up was Scotsman, Chris Henry. A forty-year-old singleton who like drugs and based on the awkward reaction of the crowd, enjoyed the fact that some of them might too. His anecdote of dating in the digital age started with tinder, was bridged by two jaeger bombs and ended in a fabulous dance routine that left my plus one, surprisingly (and worryingly) flustered. 3.5/5

Brennan Reece

Following the funny Scotsman was Brennan Reece. Another Brit abroad (we’re bloody everywhere in New Zealand), this Mancunian is self-aware. He knows he has a baby face; he knows he might look like an ‘eleven-year-old lesbian’ but Reece gives you his view of the world with carefully constructed jokes and a pleasant sprinkling of crass that left me wanting more. 4/5

Alistair Barrie

Alistair Barrie is clearly a polished performer. He wants to offend you and in this world of woke he comes with a refreshing reflection on society. But in this 10-minute snippet of his routine I didn’t feel I’d seen the best of Barrie. 2.5/5

Lauren Pattinson

Following the intermission where I manged to be at the back of a long queue for the bar and the bog, we reconvened with Lauren Pattinson. Her obsession with class felt a little forced for me. You’re working class we get it. But she built a good rapport with the audience and maybe you need to see the full show to get an appreciation for Pattinson. 2.5/5

Paul Sinha

Paul Sinha was our penultimate act. If you think you recognise his face, you do. He’s off that British quiz show The Chase. Sinha is Britain’s (and possibly the world’s) only ‘gay Anglo-Bengali GP turned stand-up comedian and professional quizzer’. You can’t help but warm to Sinha. He is thoughtful, brainy with some nervous mannerisms that make him all the more likable. But he clearly has a dark side which reared its head at moments. Put him on the list of comedians to see this festival. 4/5

Phil Nichol

Last but by no means least was Canadian Phil Nichol. He’s an attack on the senses – in a good way. His loud, sweaty, energetic performance that climaxed with a musical number about a gay eskimo was fucking funny and my favourite of the night. I felt sorry for one bloke called Mel in the front row who was humped, harassed and heckled continuously by Nichol during his set but he was a good sport and even joined him stage to sing the final chorus. To sum up, Nichol is gloriously funny and would be worth every cent of the ticket to see him. 5/5


What: 5 Star Comedy Preview

Who: Ian Smith, Lauren Pattison, Phil Nichol, Paul Sinha, Alistair Barrie, Tom Houghton, Brennan Reece and Chris Henry

Where: SKYCITY Theatre

When: 3 May

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