“Yes, mental health features prominently, and yes, it is raw, and it is gritty.”

Words Sarah Kidd

When he isn’t playing the part of a mis-behaved vampire alongside Taika Waititi or delivering thought provoking TEDX talks, you can usually find Cori Gonzaler-Macuer on 7 Days or hanging out in the local park with his three-year-oldy daughter. 2019 however, is also the year that you can find Gonzalez-Macuer back on stage as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival. And what a welcome return it is.

It’s been three years since Gonzalez-Macuer has featured in the festival, and much has changed between now and then. But a lot of things haven’t either. It’s a mix of the two, the ups and the downs as Gonzalez-Macuer will tell you and some days are certainly better than others. But he’s not resorting to a career in real estate just yet.

Appearing in Q Theatre’s Vault space, the intimate setting is perfect for Gonzalez-Macuers’ act. There is comedy to be found here, tied to the gate like a white flag of surrender it is often self-deprecating, coming from within an introspective view of one’s self and past behaviours. With a beckoning hand it welcomes you, lays its cards of insecurity on the table and then delivers the kill shot, right between the eyes.

The show tackles some tough personal issues, Gonzalez-Macuer eviscerating the contents of the last three years and pointing out the goriest bits. Yes, mental health features prominently, and yes, it is raw, and it is gritty; Gonzalez-Macuers’ delivery candidly blunt, his awkward and at times hesitant shift from one detail to another only providing a further insight into the topics he is discussing.

Gonzalez-Macuers’ sometimes-half-hearted and sardonic style of stand-up has been criticised in the past, accusations of a comedian who doesn’t really care about being there in the first-place tainting not only his career but his own self-worth. And to be fair there was probably some truth to that, Gonzalez-Macuer himself admitting to not always being on his best behaviour on stage or off. His delivery last night still maintains some of that dead-pan shtick that he is known for, but the nonchalance has been replaced with a desire to not only communicate but connect, an underlying thread of encouragement for others to do the same drawing the performance together.

But just like the name of the show, it is not all doom and gloom. Hilarious anecdotes of hypnotism by rocks and the rubbing of tummies ensue, whilst one-liners lead the way into some sideways jabs at politicians and well known New Zealand faces. The demonstration of his recently learned improv skills worth the ticket price alone (no seriously, he needs to pay off those classes).

Gonzalez-Macuers’ comedy takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions which at some point may just leave you squirming uncomfortably in your seat, but at least he’s honest about it. And when it comes to the topic of mental health, honest emotions are exactly what this country needs.