New Zealand Herald reviewer Ethan Sills dives into the best of the bunch during the last week of the NZ International Comedy Festival.
"Just when you think it can't get better than it already is, Forrester delivers what is hands down one of the best stories I have ever heard at any festival. To even hint at what it contains will ruin a stunning surprise, but it's a jewel in what is a largely flawless show.
If you have ever seen Forrester in a play or on TV and know her talents, you will not want to miss this show. There is nothing particularly showy about the set, simply a dazzling, engaging comedian delivering something simple but deeply, hilariously effective."
"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.
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."
"Stent gives each character her all, never once breaking and allowing the audience to settle into this wild ride. Being a sketch show, there is going to be a variation in quality between them. Most stick the landing, but a few are a little too long to succeed – namely a mimed Disney parody that doesn't really go anywhere.
Yet you have to applaud Stent for her glorious imagination, and for holding such a disparate show together. The two best sketches thankfully are returned to in brilliant ways throughout the show, with multiple elements coming together in the final moment for a tight finish."
"James Roque may have produced the most introspective set this year. Boy Mestizo begins as many sets do, with Roque reflecting on the past year. He returned to the Philippines for the first time as an adult, and uses the trip to joke about family members, discuss cultural differences before spring boarding to other matters, such being an Asian actor cast in traditionally European roles.
It begins with broad humour filtered through a specific world lens, and thanks to Roque's relaxed, fast-flowing demeanour on stage, with each joke delivered with a sparkling grin, it all flows as it should."
"Sainsbury excels thanks to an almost subtle delivery. The jokes are not loud and obvious like some comedians; he tells his stories as if having a conversation, the punchlines often slipped in to his rambling dialogue that catches you off-guard.
Review: Brynley Stent's sketch comedy brilliance
Review: Tom Sainsbury's fun but aimless new show
The more conversational comedy is what works best here. As Sainsbury shares stories from his childhood and discusses how he gets inspiration for his many characters, his everyman quality that makes him so appealing shines through and you hang onto every word."