The line between stand up and a one-person show has becoming increasingly blurred in recent years, but finding the balance between the two is no easy task. Chris Parker's addition to this year's Comedy Festival, Camp Binch, is the perfect example of a show that can straddle that line without a high concept idea derailing the fun of the comedy.
Parker, a frequent star of stage and screen, is not the sort of person to simply deliver a cut and dry stand up set, and makes that clear in the first few minutes, making a theatrical entrance to the stage through a shimmering black curtain and diving right into an original song.
It sets the tone for the next hour, which revolves largely around Parker's childhood in Christchurch and his experiences around growing up gay. The show is deeply personal but taps into universal feelings of isolation and feeling like an outsider.
It's a heavy topic for a comedy show, but asides from one moment near the end, Parker's upbeat, joyful personality keeps the laughs flowing. His theatre background comes into play through camp reimaginings of straight film roles and the use of the odd wig to bring different characters into the story.
Camp Binch is a hilarious and thought provoking hour, but there is a slightly unpolished feel to it, namely near the end. Parker says himself it is a work in progress, and the show does feel like it is trying to condense too much into its time frame, and would probably benefit from another 10 or 20 minutes to fully unpack his story.
Yet, for a supposed work in progress, this is a solidly executed piece of performance. More monologue than stand up, Parker more than sells his story and leaves you inspired to make a difference, which is more than you can say about most comedy shows.
Who: Chris Parker, Camp Binch
Where: The Basement, 10pm
When: Until May 12