Like the brilliant Nic Sampson has Fallen Down a Well from 2016, Unfinished Business is essentially a one-man show rather than a traditional stand up set.

The concept is as silly as you'd expect: a young Sampson failed to pass on a chain email in the early 2000s and the ghost of a dead girl is now coming to kill him unless he completes a series of tasks.

It's a sketch/stand up hybrid, a format which plays well to his strength as an actor (Sampson has appeared on the cast of several Kiwi shows including a recurring role in the Brokenwood Mysteries and Go Girls).

Sampson creates characters which are recognisable, like a blokey Kiwi guy, or a creepy little dead girl, but gifts them idiosyncratic quirks which prevent them being broad or lazy.


Our Kiwi bloke, for example, is a hand cream salesman but the joke isn't that this is a girly thing for a guy to do, it's that despite 'hand cream salesman' being an objectively stupid job, the guy really cares about it - even in the afterlife.

Sampson is a master at setting up easy jokes, only to subvert the audience's expectations at the last second, taking the punchline somewhere either entirely unexpected or just offbeat enough that it catches you by surprise.

A less able actor might have had trouble pulling off such a silly concept, but Sampson's expressive physical humour married with his acting skills makes the scenarios he creates so believable the audience buys into the ridiculous premise completely, right from the get-go.

The set up lets the audience know the show will be divided into roughly six parts, and as each part ended and a new one began I found myself regretting this meant the show was coming closer to finishing.

Do not miss this show. Possibly nothing in this year's comedy festival will make you laugh harder.

Who: Nick Sampson
Where: Basement Theatre
When: Until May 12