Review by Otis Letwin

I am a big fan of Tom Sainsbury’s Snapchat videos. Even before I moved to New Zealand, even before I knew who Paula Bennett was, I knew about Sainsbury’s impersonation of her.

So, going to see his show, I entered with a slight nervousness as to whether his on-screen personas and regular ‘schtick’ – as he calls it – would translate to the unique arena of stand-up.

If I am honest, I don’t think that it completely did. Sainsbury is clearly a very funny man – he would be someone you’d want in your friend circle; he’s someone who would keep you laughing and keep you honest. Throughout his nearly hour-long set, he touched on a wide range of topics that were seamlessly interwoven with funny skits and impersonations and at times during the show he displayed his observational astuteness, creating flashpoints of genuine hilarity.

But often we meandered through anecdotes that sort of missed the mark. Punchlines would be regularly punctuated by a nervous ‘do know what a mean?’ that I have to admit was more than a little distracting. I found myself waiting for the next time he would say it, rather than focusing on the performance. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it and I’m sure that there are plenty of Kiwis out there who will love Tom Foolery, plenty of people in the audience seemed to, however for me, this show felt a little as if it was the earlier work of someone who will grow into a master of his craft.

But my membership to the Tom Sainsbury Fan Club is still very much intact and I would encourage anyone to continue to see him at the Festival (if you still can, I’m fairly sure he’s all sold out) and over the coming years as he perfects his performance.


What: Tom Foolery

Who: Tom Sainsbury

When: 21-25 May

Where: Te Auaha – Tapere Iti (Little Theatre)

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