“The show renewed my enthusiasm for improv and letting yourself be taken on a wild ride with no spoiler to ruin the surprise beforehand.”

Words Anna Groot

Deciding which of the many acts to support at this year’s comedy festival has been no easy task, with such an excellent range of talent and formats. We chose to kick things off with a smorgasbord of NZ comedic talents in SNORT Improv comedy troupe’s Edinburgh Fundraiser. With a rotating cast including the likes of Chris Parker, Tom Sainsbury, Alice Snedden, Guy Montgomery, Laura Daniel, Joseph Moore, Donna Brookbanks, Kura Forrester, Eli Matthewson, Hamish Parkinson, Brynley Stent, Rhiannon McCall, Lana Walters, and Eddy Dever, accompanied by three surprise guests, we thought this would be a good way to sample the skills of many who feature in the festival as individual acts as well.

I have a tendency to worry for show hosts in New Zealand that they won’t have enough people coming to their party. There was no need worry on Friday evening, the almost full-house was well-lubricated, amped up and ready to be entertained.

Eli Matheson was the host of the evening and received huge applause, announcing SNORT’s biggest show ever. They had a tight system in place to ensure every member had their turn in the spotlight and the enthusiastic audience confirmed the majority had been to a SNORT show before and were hungry for more.

‘Tetanus’ was the first word to be offered up and special guest Becky Lucas, was invited to expand on the theme. A story about a girl who stood on a stonefish that had been hanging out under the local jetty followed. Becky wasn’t sure the stonefish treading girl was worthy of the attention she received just for standing on a stonefish, nor was she happy with the attention Lana, a hot classmate and asthma suffererer, received, with her fancy puffer. She wasn’t even sure Lana actually had asthma and had some ideas around how that might be tested. Lana is dead now.

The guy next to me had developed a fairly severe case of hiccoughs by this point, which added to the general sense of chaos and hilarity

Tom Sainsbury’s stonefish impersonation went down very well with the audience, as did the frequent camped up physical theatre sprinkled across the stage by Chris Parker. Hamish Parkinson announced with great timing and delivery, that he had a “very sexy and confident foot” before his foot temporarily took over the show.
Cue Kura Forrester in front of a space invaders machine playing tetris in a fish and chip shop. “You can’t pause tetris” she yelled as her order was called out and she lost her chips to another customer.

The next special guest to be brought up on stage was David Farrier. ‘Root canal’ was his term to expand on and he shared that he had grown up in Whangarei on a diet of coke and fanta and as a child his teeth had been in generally terrible shape, which meant he had to wear braces.

One of the skills he developed as a result, was being able to flick the small, saliva-coated rubber bands attached to his train tracks, around the classroom. As he had neglected to wear his retainer over the last few years, to his horror, his teeth had moved back in his mouth, (he demonstrated this by providing the audience with his side profile) and he is now afflicted with a spontaneous whistle.

There were scenes about disability benefits and confusion over whether a fundraiser was being held or money needed to be collected, a Guinness world record of impostors was sought. Camp rabbits asked the audience whether they had “Ever been eyed up by a rabbit before” and further and further down the rabbit hole, we were taken.

The guy next to me had developed a fairly severe case of hiccoughs by this point, which added to the general sense of chaos and hilarity. The audience was encouraged to start singing happy birthday which they did with rapturous enthusiasm. When it came to the ‘happy birthday to…’ part, there was some confusion.

“I’ve been working here for 50 years and you still don’t know my name?” Brynley Stent croaks as she pushes an imaginary tea trolley across the stage. Special guest Mike McRoberts entrance on stage is met with great enthusiasm from the audience. His word is ‘babies’. “My co-presenter is having one,” he said before muttering something about others being disappointed they will no longer get a look in. That fell a bit flat but he quickly moved on to what he had clearly decided he was going to share as his story.

A dramatic run in with Hezbollah fighters while reporting in Lebanon followed, and ended with the Hezbollah leader saying to Mike: Hey, we’re not criminals” and returning a bag full of cash they had initially confiscated. Dildos in handbags being distributed to new neighbours as a community service, smuggling drugs out of Brazil and being pardoned due to having a ‘really cool’ NZ passport were covered as was, group grave digging and boys nights out.

The show renewed my enthusiasm for improv and letting yourself be taken on a wild ride with no spoiler to ruin the surprise beforehand. I’m looking forward to seeing many of the cast members weave their own stories on stage as part of the festival.