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Sunday 11 October 2015

Review: Eli Matthewson: Faith

Posted in: Performance
By Jay Bennie - 13th May 2015

Eli Matthewson's Faith
Basement Studio Theatre, Auckland
May 12-16, 8.45pm
Part of the NZ International Comedy Festival

There's a moment in every stand-up comedy routine when the audience relaxes, breathes again and it's all on.

Because for comedy to work the audience has to be at one with the performer, not judging him or her. So the first few minutes are a test. Fail the test and the whole routine is going to be an irretrievably uphill struggle. Pass it and anything is possible. Eli Matthewson last night passed the test in about 10secs flat. It was a good start to an even better late-evening show.

A Billy T awards nominee, TV panelist and contributor the the Jono and Ben TV series, Matthewson has some serious comedy kudos and the ease with which he settled his audience and himself last night was reassuring. He's self-deprecating, insightful, deliciously irreverent and at times sweetly smutty without crossing the border into coarse. It took a while for his sexuality to creep into his routine but when it did every one of the fairly young audience laughed with him, not at him.

Matthewson has just finished a season at Bats in Wellington but Aucklanders have a treat in store... so without giving too much away, as the late night show has four more nights to run and I really want you to go see it, and to whet your appetite here is a sampling of the many subjects he tackles: Shops vs the environment, One Square Meal, the plight of white straight males, Sally Ridge masterpieces, agnosticism, terrorists, the rapture, gay parenting, life before Grinder, sticky RSVPs, Dan Carter, Sylvanian Families, militant atheist children and much, much more.

Frequently referencing and drawing on his narrow Christian upbringing, Matthewson keeps it coming thick and fast, but never too fast that he gets ahead of his audience. He connects confidently and chats informally, occasionally he declaims and frequently he reflects, but from beginning to end he is irresistibly, laugh-out-loud, funny.

- Jay Bennie

Jay Bennie - 13th May 2015

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