Brendon Green set the scene at the Basement using a few simple decorated poster boards to transport the audience to an idyllic pastoral scene. The reasons for the sun and grass decorations become clear upon the end of the set, after Green used his time to perform an entertaining, thoughtful and, ultimately, uplifting set.
From the get go, Green is at ease with the audience, his performance assured. His jokes border on grim at times, splitting the audience, but I’m a fan of dark humour so they were some of my favourite jokes. Green likes to push the envelope, pushing boundaries, marrying important moments with the profane in a manner that somehow works. An example would be when he takes out his guitar at a table that has a ‘Hogwarts’ decoration on it, because “this is where the magic happens.” He proceeds to sing a song about the best sex ever, using a plastic novelty button, which ends up being about how he proposed to his now-fiancée.
It is a show that evolves from a set that is clever but casual, into something genuinely touching and profound. Everything, including seemingly inconsequential details, connects to make an altogether well-crafted, heart-warming show. The content mostly revolves around his fiancée Sarah, which makes sense as Green tells us that he eventually decided to make this show about joy. This is a good choice.
In spite of all of his jokes, some at his fiancée’s expense, what comes through at the end is how much he loves his soon-to-be wife. Basing a show that ranges through a variety of topics on this ultimate love makes it better. His original plan, to end on a dark and depressing note in a show that was originally titled ‘Brendon Green Did a Shitty Thing’, would have been banal and unsatisfactory, if not unpleasant, for the audience. It is his final moments on stage that leave a lasting impression; something he is duty bound to do (“(leave) the room in an OK condition” ) by a previous AirBnB review.
A haiku by Japanese poet and lay Buddhist priest Kobayashi Issa about our “world of dew” is a core concept in Green’s show. It is ultimately about making something that is great and good out of our temporary time on earth. By making his show about love and joy – what is comedy anyway? – Green elevated it, making something good in the temporary time he had.
Arguably at the Comedy Fest so far, the stand out acts have been performances that aimed for something larger, some greater goal or concept that goes beyond simply being funny. Comedians probably have the hardest job of any performing artist in that sense. Trying to get the inspiration across without sacrificing the entertainment. On the flip side, what I’ve been learning over the last few days at the Comedy Fest is perhaps that comedy could be one of the best vehicles to channel actual life lessons and reflections. After all, laughter is the best medicine – and perhaps it’s that spoonful of sugar we need to make the more meaningful messages go down. Or, in Brendon Green’s case, that little shot of Mountain Dew to get him through the day.
What: Of Consequence
Who: Brendon Green
When: 7PM, 3 – 4 May (Auckland), 7PM, 21-25 May (Wellington)
Review by Grace Hood-Edwards