Many will know Amanda Kennedy as one half of the hugely successful musical comedy duo The Fan Brigade. Yet fans coming along to her debut solo show and expecting the RSA song on loop for 60 minutes will be in for a surprise. Aside from one song at the end, Kennedy has left the ukulele behind for a straight hour of stand-up in what may be one of the filthiest and funniest hours of the festival.
Bumbshell is all about Kennedy's "white trash" family – or, at least it was before they all found out and decided to come along to the show. Some in the crowd on opening night were addressed by name, and it felt like Kennedy had some hesitancy about going fully in on her family right in front of them in the Sweat Shop's very intimate back room.
It didn't help that the first half felt a little unprepared – Kennedy referred back to her notes regularly and endeavoured to make it into a joke – but she had some great stories about growing up in West Auckland, and her family seems to have got up to some instances that would make the Wests blush.
It should be noted that, despite being on at 7pm, this was far from family friendly; most of Kennedy's stories were lewd in the best way possible. They were the sorts of stories a less experienced comedian could have just dumped on the audience and tried to coast through on how outrageous they are, but Kennedy's relaxed demeanour and lengthy array of impressions and metaphors gave each story that extra punch.
The opening night show saw Kennedy's great aunt Janet take the stage for her own stand-up set. She seemed to relish the opportunity to have the mic to herself and her energy helped sell her stories, which suggested the dark taste in comedy runs in the family.
When Kennedy returned, the second half took a segue more into her personal life. It was a tighter set with less pauses or note checking, and the lack of distractions helped showcase Kennedy's best material – which is also easily some of the best I've seen so far this festival.
She got into two stories involving separate ex-boyfriends – one who wanted to do something to her, and one who did something to someone else – and they had the audience in stitches. To specify what they are about would be to spoil a magnificent surprise – plus I don't imagine I'd be able to publish details of either of the x-rated topics – but when the stories come, Kennedy concocts such fantastic imagery of both incidents that you will be unlikely to forget either story fast.
Near the end of the show, Kennedy points out that Bumbshell has been placed under the "Something to Say" category of the Comedy Festival, but feels her hour hasn't been very insightful. While it may not have a profound message, Kennedy delivers an hour of finely tuned jokes and some outrageous stories that are far more memorable and entertaining than any "comedian with a message" show could ever hope to achieve.
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What: Bumbshell, Amanda Kennedy
Where: Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen until May 15