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May 23, 2011 | by  | in Theatre |
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Messenger (Please Do Not Shoot)

I was anxious to see how this matinee would go. A five o’clock audience has a far lower blood alcohol level than an eight o’clock one. It must be an added challenge for a comedian to warm up a crowd that doesn’t come pre-heated. In fact, it is probably a truer test of their base material. I was soon reassured; Danny Bhoy’s opening lines were an expression of exactly that sentiment, and they were funny. “Boldly going where no comedian has dared to go before,” he said and we were immediately on his side. Which is good, because after this brief testing of the water he was straight into, among other things, Muslims, Americans and drunk female Wellingtonians.

Actually, “bold” is not the word I would use to describe Bhoy’s set. Casual, charming and funny, certainly. Perhaps at times a tad too nonchalant. Safe, ultimately, is the best descriptor. Bhoy tread a road well-worn by other comedians, drawing extensively from his experiences touring in other countries. Differences in language, drinking habits and breakfasts were covered, as were natural disasters.

Safe is not to say unfunny. An excellent stand-up show is like a good conversation: material never seems forced and links from topic to topic are made in such a way that it doesn’t seem segmented. Bhoy often achieved this, and was at his most engaging when following (apparently) improvised tangents with thrilling abandon. The aforementioned impression of drunk Wellington women on Courtenay place captured with uncanny accuracy the Friday-night vernacular. His energetic personification of our weather had me bent double, and his anecdotes from Texas were unapologetically gleeful, as only the reinforcement of a stereotype can be. Too frequently, however, the rhythm was broken as Bhoy tried to relocate his place in the set material, and had to start afresh building momentum.

It wasn’t until I was leaving the theatre that I thought to check the name of the show. Don’t Shoot the Messenger relates specifically to one joke within the set. No running theme, then—another safe choice. Danny Bhoy entertained thoroughly, but I can’t shake the feeling that a comedian of his skill should be making more of an effort to take risks and challenge convention.

Messenger (Please Do Not Shoot)

By Danny Bhoy

May 13 – 14 at The Opera House

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