I’m not really sure how to review Dusty Rich and the Voices, not on last nights show anyway.

Before you misconstrue my meaning I want to clarify right now, last nights show at the Vault at Q Theatre saw me laughing the hardest that I have done throughout the entirety of the NZ International Comedy Festival.

The hour-long show seemed like it was over in a flash, and had the audience in an absolute uproar through its entirety.

It is also near impossible to review this show in any traditional sense of the meaning.

Part of the reason for this is that Dusty Rich isn’t a comedian in any real conventional sense of the word.

Dusty ambled on to the stage and immediately called for the house lights to be turned up, keenly scanning the audience for energy and material.

The comic is well known for his completely unplanned, crowd inspired sets in his native homeland of South Africa, but were something that I was not aware of going into the performance. Suffice it to say, sitting at the front of the front and being only one of two South Africans in the audience (the other being my father) meant that I was going to be dragged in to the act one way or another.

Fortunately last nights crowd was game, and willing to engage, so there was a lot of material for the comic to work with.

Pacing around the stage with an almost unnerving manic sort of energy, getting right up into the audience to try and get a sense of what he was working with.

Last night featured two ex-pat Saffas “You’re not real South Africans – you left when we still had an economy!” (myself and my father in case you were wondering), a very large ambulance driver “Can we clarify, do you drive the ambulance or are you the ambulance?” and the highlight of the night – now-retired Adult film star Priya Rai “You can go home from tonight with the knowledge that every man here will be Googling you after the show.”

An absolute master of crowd interaction, he’ll use his razor sharp wit to either take the piss out of you, or use an audience members input to rattle off a stream of consciousness ‘comedyburst’ that sees him putting his impressive intellect to use, haphazardly exploring a topic or idea with breakneck speed.

While Dusty spent a large portion of the night riffing off the seemingly endless supply of material that the over-sharing porn star provided, which included a hilariously detailed investigation into how much harder it was for someone my fathers age to watch porn, he also looked to find ways to incorporate seemingly pre-planned bits.

When the energy in the room looked like it was lagging (ever so slightly mind you, this was a game audience), Dusty mined his past for punchlines and witty observations. This included: growing up poor in South Africa, dealing with a piece of shit father, and how being born with a name like Dusty meant that he was destined to be a stand-up.

Dusty Rich is confrontational and edgy without being offensive, and has an uncanny knack to find humour from the most unexpected places. There’s also a lot of depth to his comedy, which may go unnoticed due to his heavy reliance on crowd-work. He has obviously had a tough upbringing and battled various demons in his past. While in the wrong hands this could lead an audience into a fairly dark and alienating territory, Dusty instead uses this as fuel to hone his comedic perspective, and is blessed with the ability to take the audience along with him on a tour of his sometimes the dark and twisted mind.

In summary, I’m not sure if it’s possible to put a neat bow on this show. Dusty is a true original and is crowd-inspired sets have a “you had to be there” quality to them – last night perhaps more so than usual – with Dusty himself acknowledging as much, “If anyone is going to write about my show just know that I got distracted, by a beautiful, Googleable distraction. I can see your reviews now, it was so good – there was a beginning…”

What I do know is that Dusty Rich‘s performance is emblematic of why I love live stand-up so much – anything can happen on the night – and last night something happened, I’m not quite sure what it was but it couldn’t have been funnier. But you probably had to be there – so go and check this guy out for yourself.

Dusty Rich is on until Saturday 13th May