FanFiction Comedy

FanFiction Comedy is a chilled-out hour of laughs that doesn’t try to change the world or do anything radically new with the artform; it’s just having fun, despite a few hitches. A rotating pair of guest comics are led by regular hosts Heidi O’Loughlin and Steven Boyce in reading out their own fan stories based on existing well-known works, and then commenting on them.

As a whole it cleverly resists blanket criticism by being different every day.

Although O’Loughlin’s low-energy, awkward style suits the afternoon gig and the intimate venue of the Assembly Theatre Box, her opening patter could be stronger, both in confidence of delivery and material. One gets the feeling that she is saving her best stuff for her own show. That said, any balls that landed in the rough were deftly scooped up by Boyce, whose ability to casually create punchlines out of nothing makes it look easy, as a professional always does.

Where O’Loughlin comes into her own is in the meat of the show: the fan fiction. In an unauthorised written sequel to the 1996 film Dunston Checks In she showed an ability to juxtapose the weird with the banal for hilarious effect, as well as original, interesting takes on the topics brought up. Here we see why basing a show around fan fiction is such an inspired idea: any major surprises in the story can all be completely rationalised and make sense within the context of the narrative. Boyce’s acerbic and bemused questions following each reading nicely deflate the oddness and cringing in time for the next tale to ramp them up again.

O’Loughlin and Boyce chose their guests well: on show at the performance I saw was Brendon Green, a dazzlingly inventive comic who drew the audience right into his detailed fictional world and kept them there, recovering deftly from the occasional joke that did not land as strongly as expected. A throwaway remark of his inadvertently made the excellent point that some form of suitable background music for each story might help lift those sections of the show so that the whole hour is not all on one energy level. Also performing was Sofie Hagan, who showed masterful ability to create tension and dispel it with creative, unexpected punchlines. Though some twists in her tales went to an awkward place she was sensitive enough to the mood of the room to mostly turn them around.

Ten pounds for a show in which half the comics are unknown until you get in might seem like a gamble to some more cautious or cash-strapped Fringe-goers. I can only review the show I saw; as a whole it cleverly resists blanket criticism by being different every day. But O’Loughlin and Boyce are disarmingly charming and talented enough to encourage those on the fence to give it a try.

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The Blurb

New Zealand's cult comedy show returns with all new geek stories and special guests. 'It would be impossible not to be blown away by the staggeringly impressive line-up of New Zealand's brightest young comedy writers' ***** (Fest).