NZ Comedy Fest: Tim Batt & Guy Montgomery live
REVIEW: It's the comedic equivalent of the rock concept album. Instead of singing about a blind kid who plays mean pinball, Tim Batt and Guy Montgomery have done themed comedy for this year's festival.
It's a much tougher task to set yourself, but Batt and Montgomery are both fiendishly bright, among the best of their generation of comedians. The conceit for Batt's show, Vote Batt!, is a political hustings meeting; Montgomery's is an unseasonal Christmas show, Guy MontgoMERRY Christmas.
They work together on the successful podcast The Worst Idea in the World, but do stand-up separately: this week, an hour apart in different rooms of the Montecristo in central Auckland.
At 7.15pm, Montgomery bursts into the upstairs room wearing tights, reindeer antlers, and holding a twig, kissing audience members and bellowing 'there's a reindeer on the loose'.
It's a brilliant start and a momentum that can be difficult to maintain.
He has the props - a tree, a plastic turkey, the ingredients for eggnog - and the bombastic delivery to paper over any cracks. And actually, he's at his funniest when a joke plunges headlong over a cliff and he can pass comment on its failure.
The mid-section of the show needs work, but has promise - he rolls out various Christmas-themed characters, including a tree and a drug-fuelled carol writer and while changing costume off-stage, he reads out awful Christmas jokes pillaged from the internet - or so he says. Each time one raises a laugh, he essays a wry aside about the audience's humour threshold. It's a brave show which is at times brilliant, and Montgomery is a definite talent.
Batt's show downstairs, for whatever reason, begins 15 minutes late, which seems to throw him off his stride a bit and force him to cut chunks as he goes.
It seems a more thoroughly prepared hour (or 45 minutes) than Montgomery's, and a couple of his longer segments - one about a drug-induced trip to a teenage house party in Florida with Montgomery and the other regarding his first-ever, unintentionally-unkind overseas review are great material delivered with panache. Neither really fits the theme but that doesn't matter: the political stuff, in the main, is insightful and interesting but not necessarily funny. He's clever and he's got something to say but this didn't seem quite the stage for it.
At the risk of repeating Batt's reviewer, there's good intentions from both, and with a touch more execution, the results could be outstanding.