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July 31, 2006 | by  | in Theatre |
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Ben Elton

The Michael Fowler Centre 16th, 17th of July

If I were to walk up to you, look you in the eye and tell you that you were stupid, your culture daft and pointless, and that you were inevitably heading to a needless doom as a result of the ignorance of the way of life you so blessedly endorse, you’d probably tell me to get fucked.

Ben Elton, however manages to frame such a message within a two and a half hour comedy marathon, in a manner that is so personable, intelligent, accessible and cutting he had an audience eating out of the palm of his hand for the entirety of his incredibly lengthy set. It takes a hell of a comedian to make an audience find such entertainment in their own failings. But then it also takes a hell of an intellect to keep said audience seriously thinking about the issues at the heart of your comedy for days to come.

Elton has settled in recent years, from the lofty heights of The Young Ones and Blackadder, into becoming a decent, perhaps well above average novelist. His books always hold at their core a devilishly clever idea that somehow manages to not quite live up to its promise. Elton’s comedy is similar, it holds a clever idea at it’s centre (Newton’s idea that every action has an equal reaction, and the size of Elton’s Mars Bar), but then unlike his novels manages to carry it through. His delivery is brilliant, articulate, and clever. He draws jokes out, runs on tangents only to snap them back in, with devastatingly hilarious effect.

Needless language, the Royal Family, phone cues, conspiracy theorists, Americans, tattoos, creationists, rednecks, nosy doctors, people who make you feel guilty about drinking too much, and (of course) George Bush, are but a few things that come in for a polite hammering from Elton. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Elton’s rants on family and aging were charming and hilarious, mixing in seamlessly with some of his more political material, and laying waste to the commonly held thought that you can’t grow old and keep your edge. It may have been ten years since his last stand up tour, but if anything this show goes as a warning shot to the screeds of gimmicky comedians that have come after Elton: lift your game because Elton is still very much a force.

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About the Author ()

HAILING FROM the upper-middle- class hell of Havelock North, Jules is in the final semester of a bachelor’s degree in Trenchermanship (majoring in Gourmandry), is a self-professed Anarcho-Dandy and resides in the Aro Valley. He likes to spend his days pursuing whimsical follies of every sort and his evenings gallivanting through the bars and restaurants of Wellington in search of the perfect wine list. He has unfailingly dedicated his life to the excessive consumption of food and drink (despite having no discernable way of paying for it), and expects to die of simultaneous heart and kidney failure at thirty-nine. His only hope is that very soon people will start to pay him for his opinions (of which he is endowed with aplenty). Jules has a penchant for vintage Oloroso.

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