George Fenwick is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Comedy review: Rhys Mathewson, 'Rhys Classic'

Rhys Mathewson isn't afraid to swerve into emotional territory. Photo / supplied
Rhys Mathewson isn't afraid to swerve into emotional territory. Photo / supplied

Rhys Mathewson's humour is a wonderful brand of weird. He mixes self-referential jokes with long, carefully constructed anecdotes, with his audience hooked in by his nifty, sarcastic delivery. A writer for The Project and the youngest Billy T Award winner, Mathewson clearly knows the art of comedy well - and he uses his stand-up show to explore the format and really play with his audience.

His show, Rhys Classic, is anchored by several key stories that become exponentially funnier as the show plays out; it's also bookended by a brilliantly awkward opening and closing sequence that makes use of the DIY feel of the Classic Studio to create a hilarious entrance and exit. Much of his gags come from the idea of ambition and direction in life; a goldmine of content for comics in their 20s that Mathewson approaches with smart and fresh angles.

While his audience interactions mostly make for funny moments, Mathewson risked losing control of his set on opening night when he spent a large chunk of time pursuing an interaction with some very eager front-row members. But he was able to swerve the show back on course, and managed to showcase his quick-witted improvisational skills by using the moment as a punchline at several other points throughout the show.

Rhys Classic also swerves into emotional territory, and impressively manages to extract humour from a tragic story with sensitivity and care. It's a testament to Mathewson's skill as not only a comedian, but a storyteller. Go see him.

* Details for Rhys Mathewson's show can be found here.

- NZ Herald

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