The #MonteComedy Shows won the 2015 ‘Spirit Of The Festival’ Award for the NZ International Comedy Festival last year.
As you descend down the stairs to the right-hand side of Toto Restaurant on Nelson Street, you kind of start to understand why.
An ambiance that’s as inviting as they come, the Montecristo Room appears to be made for the jolly journey comedians will take you on. A bar setup that allows you to apply yourself with some liquid confidence so you may find yourself a bit more free in an atmosphere of “we’re all friends”, gently coerces you into a room where the jokes take place.
“Rustic” old couches and chairs (all the rage) gently cradle you into a sense of security should you manage to take one, lest you are left with the tables right next to the stage (a classic target area).
I settled in off to the side and down to the back in an area that ended up being populated by some of those participating in the Showcase, which was very fitting as I like to sit in areas that make you feel something like royalty (because I like to prove Lorde wrong).
As Leigh Hart finished off a small instrumental set near the stage, Guy Montgomery entered and proceeded to introduce the showcase.
Of course the first part of this was mentioning the award.
And why wouldn’t you?
The way it all settles the audience in is not so much a discovery, but an affirmation of how they’ve felt since they entered.
With a handful of artists to meet in quick skits that…showcase..their shows to us, Guy takes us into the show where we meet many a funny spirit.
Like Kade & Jeremy who brought magic to the stage.
As in, they literally brought magic to the stage.
Such a thing creates a turtle effect in the crowd, many pulling their heads down as the comedians scan the audience for their volunteer (victim).
With an act that played around with coined terms and wild flair, the magic is like a burning wick that finally hits the firework, with a glorious display of trickery played on us all.
Jesse Griffin brought his friends The Artist and Wilson Dixon.
Dixon is well-known on the circuit; an old hand of Country twang and singing insightful songs that stir up laughs like cattle in a field.
The Artist though is new, and while you’d assume he’s being held up by the others, his ego and love of craft points out that he needs no one else to fill the adult-sized diaper he wears for his art.
Jamaine Ross brought his culture.
As a fellow Maori, I found him delightfully relatable and hilarious, especially his story about going to a wedding in Wairoa and how his appearance affects the speed at which he exits Customs.
Sophia of Sophia & Cohen found herself let down by her comedic wingman as he was off chasing Wilderpeople or something of that ilk.
But she owned the awkwardness of the moment, like the Spice Girls when Ginger Spice just left, and delivered a number on how Cohen was potentially dead, which was a haunting performance draped in a ghost-sheet of humour.
Guy Montgomery returns to present his own witty work.
A rousing piece filled with political nods to a certain flag referendum and how the lights were encroaching upon his comedic space, he also points out how he still had time to change his shirt, which was in itself a remarkable feat.
Brendon Green brought a new dance move.
A piece based around happiness and how to find it, he makes hidden dick jokes and observations on the the things we overlook.
But it’s how one could use a Dyson Hand Dryer that becomes something that resonates as loudly as the driers do, changing your life with a handful of subtle hand gestures and hip movements.
Sanjay Patel brought a drought.
That was me trying to be clever and point out his dry wit, but it most likely came off as negative.
Of course he is anything but, with a wry sense of delivery that only makes his jokes funnier, it goes down like a good beverage on a hot Summer’s day.
Applauding this showcase of funny people who took the time to bring about the start of the New Zealand International Comedy Festival (try saying that fast), I discovered my King’s chair was in-fact a broken one left off to the side for a reason (though my legs got an intense workout as penance).
One could assume that was the best joke of the night, but I guarantee you it wasn’t.