Monday 13 February. The classic. The lights go down. Boycie drops the lights and brings up the music introducing the MC for the night – Steve Wrigley. The room breaks into applause. Steve Wrigley comes on stage…
I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was the first night I’d ever been to see Raw Comedy. I’ve been to more Friday and Saturday gigs than I can remember. Even a fair number of Wednesday night gigs. I was excited to see some new faces perform. I have to admit, the sadist in me was looking to see a few colossal bombs, and I was hoping to see some mediocre gear.
The first two acts up changed my perspective. Within seconds of each of these two performances my opinions were changed. I’m not sure whether it’s because these people had worked on their sets for months, possibly years, but I was seriously impressed. Some parts were flawless. Some parts showed an obvious crowbarring of material into the time available, but overall I was impressed.
Now, as guaranteed by the fact that some of these people had never stepped on a stage in their life, there were going to be some absolutely appalling gags, and some cases, some absolutely appalling sets. And the number one on the list of people who I can honestly say I would never wish to see on a stage, though I would love to see Hone Harawira hire him to MC the next Mana Party Caucus, was Racist Gandalf AKA Leonardo di Weenie. A man who absolutely knocked the audience for six. I shan’t harp on about this person’s opinions any more than to say this is a level of racism has not been seen since early 1940’s Germany, and left two of the most experienced comics I’ve met absolutely speechless.
Racism aside, Monday night was a true first night for a lot of people, it seemed. Even the hecklers. But I saw a lot of great potential. From foreign dolphins stealing all the local female population, to songs about clingy girlfriends having 912 photos of their boyfriends in their bedroom, and comments about being flashed at the back of the room (I promise, every time I saw Brendhan Lovegrove at the back of the room, he was wearing pants), which opened a whole new can of worms.
This year I’m going to go to as many Raw performances as I can. Including the heats, the grand final during the comedy festival, and I will be there to see the Raw Award being handed out. I reckon this is a great option way of seeing how you take to the stage, and seeing how right your friends are when they tell you that “you should totally tell that joke on stage”.
Two suggestions though: Don’t bring your computer with you, and if you’re going to wear trackie pants, make sure that both legs are the same length.
Veteran British Songstress (and self proclaimed “Big Deal Back Home”) Rowena, finding her place on the stage.
p.s. Totally worth performing, even if just for the chance to get into the green room. The names on that wall. The painting of Billy T James who is the face of Comedy History in NZ. And if you’re tall like me, the chance to smack your head into the ceiling when you stand up too fast.