In Fanfiction Comedy, a group of Kiwis have taken it upon themselves to take the biggest guilty pleasure of geekdom, fanfiction, and offer it up onstage for your delight. As anyone who has read My Immortal knows, fanfic (as it’s called by those of us in the biz) can provide a rich seam of comedy that’s as yet untapped and it’s an intriguing prospect to see it brought to the stage. The evening I saw it, three comedians offered up self-penned stories, while Tom Furniss, the show’s apparent compere, riffed on the concept of fanfic and offered up some real-life examples gleaned from the infamous fanfiction.net. Fortunately, he steered clear of anything M-rated (more lingo), sticking to the basics of ‘Hulk vs Vader’ and the improbability of Charlie Brown ending up in the WWE.
The stories are the selling point of the show but, as with fanfiction in general, prove a mixed bunch. Heidi O'Loughlin’s morbid tale of the Famous Five seventy years on felt underplayed against Joseph Moore’s high energy romp as The Other Red Ranger, while Edith Poor played against type with a semi-erotic rhapsody on The Wire. All three tended to rely on parody and exposing tropes for their laughs, which demanded a wide range of background knowledge from the audience – tellingly, even two of the group hadn’t seen any of The Wire. However, when bigger fandoms like Harry Potter took centre stage, there were laughs aplenty.
The show’s structure has a slapdash air to it, scrabbling into the next section, be it story or stand up, with all the finesse of an enthusiastic puppy. It’s never laboured, but for a show centred on such a niche concept the different sets hang together only very loosely. Rather bizarrely, one of the group, Steven Boyce, spends the entire show sitting on stage, munching skittles, making occasional notes and seemingly acting as the straight man to the cavalcade of nerds that make up his co-stars. Sometimes this strange choice of set-up works well but it doesn’t feel entirely thought out. Still, it lends the whole show a casual air that makes it feel both engaging and familiar.
The stories are set to change every night and special guests should add even more variety to a wide-ranging and eclectic mix. It’s a great show for nerds eager to share in general geekery but a little more fanaticism is needed to make it fantastic.