British comedian Bill Bailey, who is well versed in life downunder, showed off his New Zealand knowledge with a warm "kia ora, haere mai" welcome to the sold out crowd at Toitoi Hawke's Bay Arts & Events Centre.
Recently let free from managed isolation at Auckland Airport's Holiday Inn, Bailey was eager to share tales of UK lockdowns, nature and music at his first of two 'En Route to Normal' shows in the region.
But before the 56-year-old could begin his first routine, the Hawke's Bay audience set the tone for the evening with a number of early heckles, including a confusing shout of "hall" from the stalls.
A sign of things to come.
Bailey, who was on his first visit to the Bay, was left somewhat bewildered by the early outburst and clunks of spilt drinks in the packed theatre.
But after regaining his composure, the musical comedian soon got the crowd on his side with demonstrations of his array of instruments that littered the stage.
Bailey, of 'Black Books' and 'Never Mind The Buzzcocks' fame, took the admiring crowd on a journey through the genres throughout his 2-1/2 hour set, including classical works from Beethoven, Irish folk songs, German dance music and heavy metal.
The performer showed off his musical flair, playing guitars, keyboard, theremin, recorder, guzheng and even a guitar made from the Bible.
While referring back to his little black book of poetry and taking a toke on his pipe, Bailey frequently spoke directly to the crowd, which led to arguably the funniest moment of the night.
When asking what he can call the local audience – "Hawke's Bay?, HB? Anything else?" – one audience member suggested "Jim", and it stuck.
Affectionately referring back to the crowd as 'Jim' for the rest of the night, Bailey took the show by storm and delivered a killer performance with tales of his home country.
Hailing from Somerset, England, the west country-born comedian used his platform to brutally compare the leaders of his home and his new temporary residence – Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern.
The Boris bashing was epitomised by the occasional press of the 'Boris Button', which played a mumbling quote from the UK leader on cue.
His love for this country was clear – from his expertly pronounced use of Aotearoa to a song all about Invercargill, Bailey was truly thankful to be in a country of freedom.
The award-winning showman, who was recently crowned the winner of UK's 'Strictly Come Dancing', gave the Hawke's Bay crowd a glimpse of his moves after jokingly restarting the show in German after the interval.
Nobody in the audience, which was made up of "a few millennials, some grey-haired old folk who've given up on life and mostly middle-aged grumpsters" – his words, not mine – would have left without a smile on their face.
Bailey is due to perform 17 dates of the tour in New Zealand throughout March and April.