FanFiction Comedy

Big-time book nerd Lev Grossman once told Time magazine that "fan fiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker." Cooped up in Assembly's bunker-like box venue, Fanfiction Comedy's show seems to suggest that such a happening might in fact prove pretty utopian. This hour has the audience in more hoots than Adam Sandler in the role of Hedwig, as imagined in performer Joseph Moore's side-splitting story, Harry Styles Potter, or Harry Potter: 2014.

It might only be a matter of time before these guys find themselves in a schlockfest cyber-thriller or a comedy zombie romance of their own

With all the performers sat side-by-side on stage, the show flicks through its fanfics magazine-style. The fact that each person patches together a new piece on a daily basis means that pop culture pop-shots run scattershot across each and every work imaginable. On the day I attended, highlights included Heidi O'Loughlin's gut-bustingly funny take on Super Mario and Princess Peach's domestic hell (think Nintendo meets Look Back in Anger) and a travelogue that married Malcolm in the Middle to the meth-head antics of Breaking Bad (and in so doing proved Edith Poor's claim to the "Worst Moral Compass" award that the group gifted her with in 2011). Such a slapdash structure has the added bonus of adding an element of the unexpected for audience and performers alike: One of the joys of the show is watching those on stage listen to and laugh along with their peers. Each performance is like another day on a jocular internet forum.

The show did of course suffer from the inevitable unevenness of any magazine show; some bits certainly worked better than others. Weaker tales tended toward an over reliance on the parody of generic tropes. A version of Fight Club 2 featuring monolithic corporate logos Ronald McDonald, Mickey Mouse and Colonel Sanders slugging it out was beautifully written, but its overinvestment in stylistic satire meant that it ran pretty gag-light. Such was also a bit of an issue in an erotic crossover between Bob the Builder and Grand Designs, whose repeated return to the language of interior design magazines wore a little thin.

The impromptu style of the show also came with problems. Whilst compères Nick Gibb and Steven Boyce initially proved endearing in their riffs on Darkwing Duck and other such pop culture gems, their banterous bits between stories occasionally felt a little forced, and you became aware of them playing for time a little. Fortunately though, such awkward pauses are pretty fitting for a show that revels in geek culture.

Overall, Fanfiction Comedy feels like a very funny and fresh piece of work, and its fanbase continues to expand: It might only be a matter of time before these guys find themselves in a schlockfest cyber-thriller or a comedy zombie romance of their own. 

Reviews by Jack Powell

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The Blurb

Back after last year's hit season, New Zealand's cult geek comedy show returns with all new stories and special guests. Winner of the Best Show at the 2012 NZ Comedy Guild Awards. ‘It would be impossible not to be blown away by this staggeringly impressive line-up of New Zealand's brightest young comedy writers’ (Fest).

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