On Thursday evening I ventured to the Sweatshop Brew Bar, to see Coombe and Friends, part of the Auckland Fringe Festival, a show featuring Matt Coombe and his celebration over finding a friend, Craig Westenberg.
Originally set for the Velvet room, they were given the main room due to Covid Restrictions, which was good as the event felt bigger and they could fit more people in, but it sort of lost some of the intimacy and audience cohesion that comes with playing a smaller room.
Coombe did well to habituate to the new conditions, his high energy style capturing the attention of the audience. He was to serve as the MC for proceedings, introducting the audience to his friends, who happened to be Westenberg, and his Grandmother Sheryl.
Coombe did well to warm up the crowd apropos of nothing (a skill that’s not easy to master) He was fresh faced on this occasion, and usually carries a youthful appearance (being young… I suppose) This carries an interesting juxtaposition as his material is quite dark and cynical, but the delivery is childish and playful. In this manner he discussed his family, his dating life and weird inconstancies in media (In particular High School Musical).
After delivering his first set he brought on Sheryl Coyle, his grandmother, who differed from her Grandson’s more confronting style, choosing too instead regale us with tales of her Grandchildren, in particular an experience doing a Fun Run with her Granddaughter. I found her quite witty with an excellent turn of phrase, and I love the grumpy old lady trope.
This was followed by the headliner Craig Westenberg, a comedian not without pedigree, being a Finalist in the South Island Raw Quest Competition. You could tell he had experience as he had great charisma and timing in his performance. His material was very smart, although not without smut. Westenberg talked about his life experiences in the job market, dating and misadventures while stage acting.
Coombe and Friends was an enjoyable Hour of Comedy, with an interesting ending. (Which I endevour to not spoil here) I would recommend you see this show should it come to a Fringe or Arts Festival near you.
Coombe and Friends is also appearing in the New Zealand Fringe in Wellingon
What: Coombe and Friends
When: 13 March
Where: Circus Bar