Barrel of laughs

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They had big shoes to fill, those comedians.

Most nights I can be found clutching my sides with tears rolling down my cheeks as I am treated to the hilarity of either my friends or some YouTube weirdo with too much time on their hands (this week, Edarem).

So, when on other nights I walk streets so blustery my fringe sticks to my lipgloss to join the masses (or the dozens) sitting in front of a comedian and their microphone, I expect to at least chuckle, hopefully burst an ab. Definitely not force an awkward titter.

Of course, taking a gamble on a comedian is all part of the rush of the festival. Over the past three weeks I have been lucky enough to laugh (most of the time, which is a good average) along to eight shows plus the gala opening, the Last Laugh, and the X-rated puppet show Avenue Q.

I ran post mortems on each performance and I have come to the following conclusions. (Note: these are based on my opinions only and external influences may affect my objectivity).

*Nice, clean-mouthed men are not funny especially when they refer to their nice girlfriends/wives.

*However foul-mouthed and/or crass female comedians are treading a fine line between being a sort of suffragette and an embarrassment to their gender.

*Jokes about ablutions, fellatio, Telecom and the unpronounceable volcano should be a very last resort.

*Ditto dance floor impersonations.

*Fat jokes are still funny.

*Puppets and porn can be poignant

*Dry-as-Cruskit humour is not for everyone. Serial smirkers are probably best to laugh along with their audience. It's still funny.

*Randomly breaking into song on an acoustic guitar can be as awkward as a primary school assembly, unless your act is specifically musical comedy (Wilson Dixon, The Lonesome Buckwhips, Avenue Q)

*Tip for the audience: It will be assumed you are having intimate relations with whoever you are sitting with.

*Kudos to the performer: An hour is a very long time.

Yep, an hour can feel like a very long time. Sketches can sometimes be much easier on the audience and the performer than a one-man stand-up routine.

Anyway, on to my next point. The festival may be over, but comedy on television is reaching new heights this week. Comedy Central runs some great shows like The Gruen Factor, a panel hosted by maverick Australian Wil Anderson who was here in the first week of the festival. And on TV3, Friday night is packed with side-splitting humour starting with the model show Bawl Your Eyes Out With Tyra. On top of that, this week we're treated to a new, ambitious, local sketch comedy Radiradirah, created by the creators of bro'Town and featuring the funniest people in New Zealand and Melbourne. There's Rhys Darby (who stays on TV3 after hosting Rock the Nation at 8.30pm), Jemaine Clement, the Naked Samoans and John Clarke, whose legendary black singlet-wearing character has an award named after him (see announcement to the left). The Beached Az cartoon even makes an appearance.

With 39 sketches, about 40 characters and just 22 minutes of air-time in the first episode alone, this show should be clear of any of those strained pockets of cringe that can plague an hour-long live routine.

This week is shaping up to be a big one in Taika Waititi's career. He plays two characters on the show and Boy will have caught up to The World's Fastest Indian as top grossing Kiwi film any minute now.

Radiradirah is followed by the current affairs panel show that has made Dai Henwood, Ben Hurley, Steve Wrigley, Paul Ego and Jeremy Corbett household names and kept the likes of me couch-bound on Friday nights.

I was lucky enough to sit in the audience for the first episode of this season of 7 Days where I learned to laugh in four different ways while filming the laugh track - "laugh into clap", "mwuhawhawhawhawhahaha", "hahaha" and "titter".

Might come in handy for awkward live performances in the future, but I'm finding that just like any night with friends, from 7.30pm on Friday the real-life splutters and hysterics-with-tears don't need any coaxing.

- NZ Herald

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