2019 marks the fourth year in a row that Rhys Nicholson has visited Auckland. In that time, he has elevated from sharing the stage with three other comedians to winning the Best International Show Award and hosting the Auckland gala. It's a rapid transition, but one fully deserved for a comedian who, for years now, has been unrivalled at the festival in terms of sheer comedic brilliance.
The title, Nice People Nice Things Nice Situations, is inspired by a catty letter Nicholson received from an aggravated viewer criticising his mannerisms and behaviour and urging him to be nicer. Thankfully, Nicholson has ignored Carol and his new show is as acerbic and biting as ever.
The only real change from last year's equally phenomenal Seminal is that he has done away with that show's more serious tone. Nicholson told the Herald that he wanted to have more fun this time, and it shows, the show keeping its same cutting edge and pointed humour but basking in a more positive atmosphere.
His style is hard to describe if you have never seen him perform. Nicholson is probably the most quick-fire, energetic comedian you will ever witness, though in the most understated way possible. He has a masterful ability to cram a dozen jokes into a single moment, each one delivered with its own inflection, squawk, shout or stumble, so that no matter what Nicholson says or does, every minute is oozing with laughs.
Listen to our Comedy Festival podcast with Rhys Nicholson, Eli Matthewson and James Roque:
A show this stuffed with comedy could feel over-packed, but Nicholson has structured it perfectly. There isn't really a story or theme too Nice, but Nicholson has pieced everything together so delicately that it gradually moves from topic to topic, delivering a cohesive set that begins on school reunions and builds towards Skype sex and how his dog is gaslighting him.
By the time it reaches its glorious end, there is no doubt that Nicholson has delivered another magnificent show, potentially his best yet. There's not a single moment that doesn't work, nor any story that falls flat. Nicholson is truly at the top of his game, and we can only hope that when he reaches the international acclaim he deserves, he doesn't forget to pay us a visit.
Who: Rhys Nicholson, Nice People Nice Things Nice Situations
Where: Q Theatre, until Saturday 25th