Rose Matafeo: Sassy Best Friend

Despite failing to romantically woo Matthew in the front row, who resolutely resisted her bookish clumsiness and snazzy jacket, Rose Matafeo delivers a tour-de-force performance in her second hour at the Fringe. She garnishes a delectable cocktail of stand-up, character and physical comedy with enough enthusiasm and energy to win over even the dourest audience member, all delivered in her trademark, well-rehearsed yet seemingly casual style.

Demonstrates an ability to evolve and learn between shows that many comics never do, ensuring that her future output is likely to only ever get better.

In contrast to the kitsch aesthetic of the show her focal points are anything but. Beginning with a look at 90s pop culture, she uses it as a lens to ease into material about trends of racial and sexual inequality, before applying the focus to contemporary hip-hop and the dilemma of being socially conscious yet enjoying the artistic works of celebrity deviants. She then moves onto material about her awkward teenage self, and how even now as an adult a part of her remains that nervous teenage drama-lover. Indeed there are moments when this becomes apparent; most notably with an audience member who over-enthusiastically and unexpectedly continues conversing with her about Michael Jackson, and at the end of the show when she finally seems to run out of energy.

Her most ambitious section, and the crescendo of her hour, concerns the contraceptive pill and the effects it had on her mentally delivered in much the same way as you’d see a plethora of comedians talk about antidepressants and other drugs that deliberately cause chemical changes to the brain. Her deft analysis, in sketch form, of the illogicality of taking something that can cause hormonal imbalance despite the relative ease of putting on a condom, all because it feels “weird” for the guy, perfectly punctuates her point.

Though a fantastic and well-received show (other than a throw-away line about Jackie Chan bloopers at the end of “Rush Hour” films which deserved more) her relative inexperience in writing and formatting an hour is again highlighted, as it was in her debut show Finally Dead last year, when she ends on a series of characters unrelated to the themes of self-doubt and confidence that underpin the show. Although enjoyable they seem like filler, and the atmosphere in the audience was that of waiting to disembark a plane after landing, just before the “fasten seatbelts” light has been turned off. She has, however, improved substantially. The way she weaves between light-hearted patter and more meaningful analysis shows a clearer practical understanding and effort towards structure, and works marvellously.

Overall, Sassy Best Friend is definitely worth catching. Though those who’ve seen her 20-minute sets may leave slightly disappointed it’s only because one impatiently expects more from Matafeo, whose shorter sets feel more honed and cutting. Given time, however, it’s clear that she’ll be able to reach those expectations and perhaps exceed them. She demonstrates an ability to evolve and learn between shows that many comics never do, ensuring that her future output is likely to only ever get better.

Reviews by Chris Shapiro

Underbelly Med Quad

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Rose Matafeo: Sassy Best Friend

★★★★

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Performances

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The Blurb

Sassy best friend (sas-ee best frend): 1) A sidekick to the main character in a romantic comedy. 2) Not conventionally attractive, quirky, hard to love. NZ comedian Rose Matafeo returns with an hour of sketch and stand-up about her 25 year struggle with being the sassy best friend in her own life. All she wants is to be loved by you, and she'll do whatever it takes to win you back, baby. Best Newcomer nominee at the 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. ***** (Telegraph). 'A stellar debut: silly, charismatic, and packed with great gags' (Guardian).

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