Words Jeremy Labrado

Heading into Auckland’s Basement Theatre on an unbelievably cold and wet Saturday night, we were excited at the prospect of checking out Kiwi comedian and internet star Tom Sainsbury. While I admit that I would have been fairly content that night to literally find myself anywhere dry, Sainsbury’s Self-Helped made the hour spent nestled amongst a capacity crowd a real treat!

Tom Sainsbury is something of a modern Renaissance man. A playwright, director, script writer, actor, comedian, and now snapchat celebrity – Tom Sainsbury is undeniably having a moment right now, and this beautifully culminated in a spectacular hour-long solo show at the NZ International Comedy Festival.

Anyone familiar with Sainsbury’s Snapchat/Facebook vignettes will know that the comic is master of characterization and he used this to great effect during his set. Over the course of the hour we met the National party loving Stephanie, Bill the Kiwi mince lover, and of course Paula who appeared as the voice of supermarket Countdown’s self-service.

Whether it’s through employing a wig, a cleverly chosen accent, or distinctive turn of phrase, Sainsbury is able to create beautifully rendered characters that he employs throughout the night to chronicle the many weird, wonderful, and sometimes downright awful experiences that have peppered his existence.

For a comedian probably more comfortable with inhabiting characters, it was great to see a few autobiographical yarns thrown into the show as well. The audience was in stitches as we were treated to anecdotes about Tom’s misadventures on Tinder, his experiences of handling Internet fame, and the time ended up on stage at the Vodafone Music Awards.

Through these stories, we were given a glimpse behind the curtain of the quick-witted comedian and I’m glad that we did! There really is something special about a comic that is able to turn something as awful as catching malaria on a trip to India into one of the highlights of the night.

Self-Helped is nominally centered around the idea of self-help and Sainsbury promised to take the audience on a journey of self discovery. Through utilised a mix of skits, stand up, and often unbelievable tales of a life lived to the full, he succeeded in bringing the audience along with him on a mad adventure.

With a delivery that was warm and engaging, jokes that we’re cleverly constructed, and show packed with enough laughs to satiate even the most demanding of comedy fans – I can’t promise that you will necessarily undergo a spiritual awakening during Self-Helped, but I can guarantee that you’ll laugh your ass off trying.

What: Self-Helped

Who: Tom Sainsbury

When: 27 April – 5 May

Where: Basement Theatre