21/05/12
by

Quantum Sheep & Animal Orchestra

Guy Capper’s latest show presents us with his trademark blend of stand-up, animation and music. The theme this time round—“What is string theory?”—is mulled over by our host and pitched to a number of animated interviewees, but never quite solved. The routine progresses like a surreal television talk show, with Capper introducing his lineup of claymation guests to address the audience from outer space via a projected “internet feed” (read: prerecorded video).

The conceit is an interesting one, and the show starts promisingly with an animated prologue, featuring an amusing zen-alien- guru figure who propounds hopelessly vague philosophies on the beginning of the universe. Then Capper takes the stage, and here on in the show is a mess. Capper’s performance is undisciplined and aimless. He anchors himself to a small spot on the left-hand side of the stage and lets forth a stream-of-consciousness monologue which sounds like Spike Milligan trying his hand at Beckett. Except it’s not funny. Nor does it sound rehearsed. Nor does it look like Capper is really trying very hard. He sometimes elicits giggles when his rants reach a feverous pitch of absurdity, but these moments are few, and virtually disappear by the second half. It is a shame; Capper’s breakneck pace (when he’s feeling up to it) and unflinching leaps of absurd logic could provide the kernel of a truly exciting and surreal comic experience. But his lack of structure, presence, purpose, and effort squanders the production. Those that laughed were often laughing at him. The rest, I think, were stoned.

The animated interviews are evidently the mainstay of the routine, and Capper introduces a number of the characters
like old-time favourites (clearly they have appeared in previous shows). The less said about these the better. The interviews
are prerecorded, but it seems Capper’s collaborators (including Jemaine Clement) suffer from the same lack of focus and, well, jokes as he does. Capper often got lost in the interviews, and the guests answered different questions to the ones
he asked. The creatures rely on a Flight-of- Conchords-style awkward, self-deprecating humour, but the muddy, jerky animation prevents the human empathy required to make it work. The question of string theory is neglected, revealing the show’s premise for what it is: an excuse to do more of the same, tired routine. It is telling that the prerecorded component of Capper’s show is just as uninspired as as the live one. Here is a comedian with very few ideas, and no inkling of how to present them.

Quantum Sheep and the Animal Orchestra reveals that there are greater mysteries in the universe than string theory. Guy Capper is one. His ticket prices could do with some scientific analysis too.

With soundtrack contributions by Joe Callwood, Jemaine Clement, Riki Gooch, Rosco Jones, Mike Nyland and Daniel O’Brien.

About the Author ()

Comments (5)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Jules Clark says:

    I am reading this review and thinking why is it that people in New Zealand including Neal Barber think that if something is different they think its “Stoned”. Neal your review is a great example of this. I loved this show for it’s originality and audience participation and in the States I can tell you this humor would go down a treat.Talking Pelican and singing sheep my favorites. I agree the structure was lacking in sections but I cracked up at how coloful and F***** up it all was. And Neal your unfocused spelling mistakes speaks volumes about all humans fallibility like your statement “The conceit is an interesting one, ” this say’s a lot about your focus including thinking that if people laugh at a comedy show they are stoned? How Lazy is it to to even think that’s funny or even valid ? Id rather see this kind of improvised comedy than old hashed routines any day. My boyfriend is a kiwi and he said he wanted to go to this show because this dude was different from most NZ Comedians and I would agree after finally seeing it. And Neil my boyfriend and I were not stoned at all and we both laughed our asses off at this colorful show.

  2. Sue Denim says:

    Jules, I disagree with you, I personally find Capper’s lazy unfunny sub-surrealism insultingly bad – even more so when you consider he has been doing it for more than a decade. But, you are aloud to hold a different opinion and fair dos to adding your own voice to the discussion… Oh, wait, no. I just remembered that you tried to prove someone wrong by pointing out their spelling mistakes, so, actually, you can fuck off. My bad.

    • Claire Johanson says:

      Sue Denim ? I hardly think Guy Capper is Lazy after being a fan of all his animated Sheep the Pen youtube clips over the years.
      You sound like your an angry woman who needs some fresh air. And you just attacked someone who was making a point ?
      I saw this link to read a review and then read your comment and laughed. At least you know how to use a computer Good luck with your anger you sound like a real hoot to be around

  3. Claire Johanson says:

    Sue Denim ? I hardly think Guy Capper is Lazy after being a fan of all his animated Sheep the Pen youtube clips over the years.
    You sound like your an angry woman who needs some fresh air. And you just attacked someone who was making a point ?
    I saw this link to read a review and then read your comment and laughed. At least you know how to use a computer :) Good luck with your anger you sound like a real hoot to be around :)