With Rhys Darby calling the shots the Comedy Fest luminaries needed to bring their A game.

Opening with a brisk reminiscence on his experiences in the NZ military, Darby made it clear there would be no shilly-shallying and incredibly managed to marshal the 20-plus comics into the promised 2 hours.

As if to drive home his mastery of the temporal domain he cleverly toyed with time warps that had him teleporting into the Rio Olympics and running action replays of earlier gigs - the only slip-up coming with a nostalgic restoration of an overly long ping-pong routine.

Among the international acts Nish Kumar's impassioned analysis of the subtexts in the Monopoly board showed comedy can be enhanced by strongly held political convictions.


But any rules in the comedy game are meant to be broken, as Australian-Irish star Jimeoin showed with a risky piece assuming a middle-aged male could have an intimate familiarity with women's experiences.

Among the many references to the flag debate the best came from Lloyd Langford, explaining how Welsh compatriots were able to rally around a depiction of a non-existent dragon.

From the local contingent Pax Assadi impressed with a part-South Asian perspective on the racial politics of a North Shore high school and Urzila Carlson's superb skills were used in a wonderfully deadpan warning on the perils of naming a dog.

Brendhan Lovegrove brought some nice accent work to a piece on what happens when the romantic mystique of French collides with the truculent attitude of the Scottish, and faux-French sophistication got a good workout with Marcel Lucont's droll reflections on how sexual orientation might affect the totalitarian impulse.

Arj Barker brought ironic American cool to the fertile territory of girlfriend jokes and Felicity Ward's coverage of Irritable Bowel Syndrome showed that a winning personality can allow you to deal with the most unsavoury material.

At the more surreal extreme, singing cowboy Wilson Dixon showed that country and western is an ideal medium for discussing the etiquette involved with meeting a dwarf in an apple orchard and James Acaster built a melancholy image of a solitary figure drinking from a punchbowl in his bedroom.

Finishing the show Chopper's delivery had all the subtlety of first tackle hit-up from an Aussie front-rower and his finely crafted persona proved the perfect vehicle for a well-timed takedown of Donald Trump.

What: Flick Electric Co. Comedy Gala

Where: Aotea Centre, ASB Theatre

Screening: TV3, 8.35pm tonight