Words Oliver Smith
A mild windy Saturday evening with a chance of rain, had become a wet Saturday evening as I made my way down into the Vault at Q Theatre to see Dying To Meet You. I was not aware that the rain was thematically accurate to the show I was about to see, as it turns out I was attending a funeral.
This is of course not hyperbole, the show was fantastic, building greatly on his previous years solo show “Ashton Brown Is Anxious To Meet You.” The opening to the show was a staging of Ashton Brown’s funeral.
Never one to shy from the theatric, Ashton had set up a plinth and a epitaph on the block that held the TV screen. The room was packed out, full of attentive audience members ready for a night of stand up and theatre. The show itself is staged as Ashton’s funeral, full of gags at his own expense in his usual self-depricating style, and interesting characters of his own creation, leading into the main event, Ashton’s last show before he died.
Serving as somewhat of a sequel to his smash hit ‘Anxious To Meet You‘, his new show broadens his examination of life from an introspective lens into something more fundamental – mortality. The show details Ashton’s (and by proxy our own) life and fear of death, recounting experiences of a honeymoon gone wrong, his relationship with weight-watchers, how he tried to get over his various vices, and various gripes and hang ups he has day to day. This combined with smatterings of social commentary throughout the show.
This was all delivered in his usual brand of high energy, self-depricating comedy he has become known for, combined with theatrical and multi-media elements that are used to great effect. Fans of Ashton Brown would be relieved to hear that Dying To Meet You maintained the complex and interwoven elements that made his previous show such a hit with the comedian combining stand-up, prerecorded skits, poetry, interpretive dance and character comedy.
I was delighted by the return of the inept 2nd year psychiatry student therapist Leon, with a whole new PowerPoint presentation in tow, rewarding those who saw his show the previous year with an extra layer of meta-humour.
Dying To Meet You was dark, insightful and passionate, at times politically charged. Building on the previous years show, while standing up on its own. What makes Ashton stand out from the current crop of performers at the NZ International Comedy Festival is the clarity of his comedic voice.
He’s a comic with convictions and is not afraid to go to bat for them. He has something to say and never shies away from dissecting an ugly truth or holding a mirror to society. However, his genius lies in his ability to do all of this while still leaving the audience in stitches. This is largely achieved to an enviable mix of razor sharp jokes and his warmly affecting delivery that just pulls you into his world.
I recommend this to anyone who likes a bit of theatre in their comedy.
Oh and there was something about a Fitbit.