Double-billed Comedy Festival shows can be a mixed bag. It makes sense for two comedians to join forces given the cost of putting on a show, but it always runs the risk when you have two similarly veined comedians of one outshining the other.
What's interesting about Twins is that the two comedians – Liv McKenzie and Ed Amon – seem to have very little in common. McKenzie is a Christchurch-born single millennial, while Amon is a married Pakistani migrant living in north Auckland. The two appear to be good friends, but outside of that there's nothing obvious about why they've joined forces this festival.
Their styles differ as well – Amon feels more like a traditional stand-up, working the crowd in-between jokes that have little to do with each other, while McKenzie almost breathlessly barrelled through a tight set more in line with where comedy is going.
Despite their differences, the two were very funny in their own distinct ways. Amon was first up on Friday night, and discussed migrating to New Zealand, weight loss and racism online. There was a dorky sensibility to some of his jokes, but also a frank openness around his personal experiences that are unlikely to be covered by many other comedians this festival.
I imagine his set would have been a lot tighter in a more traditional classic lineup rather than being dragged out to a half-hour – there weren't so much transitions as abrupt pivots to new topics – but Amon still delivered numerous solid punchlines that succeeded without extravagant set-up. His closing joke around lubricant was completely unexpected and a personal festival favourite so far.
When McKenzie came on, she went straight into a punchy set that revolved mostly around her experiences during lockdown and sex. She moved at a much faster pace than Amon and covered a lot of ground, packing so many tangents and different angles into the same story there was barely time to catch your breath between punchlines.
Having won Best Newcomer at the 2019 festival, McKenzie is clearly a star on the rise, after witnessing a full half-hour from her and marvelling at her confident, exuberant delivery, I wouldn't be surprised to see bigger successes from her in the festivals to come.
While the two acts don't really complement each other, Twins let both comedians shine without overshadowing the other. Having booked tickets after seeing McKenzie's hilarious Comedy Gala set, Amon was a bonus treat I'd be keen to see again, and shows the benefits of these double-billed shows in showcasing more of the incredible talent New Zealand comedy has to offer.
What: Twins with Ed Amon and Liv McKenzie.
Where: Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen until May 8.