Samoan-Welsh James Nokise talks a big game in his Auckland show, Talk a Big Game, this comedy fest.
I couldn’t help myself.
In his 15 years of comedy, he’s spent the last 10 years focused on biting political commentary.
However when political commentary (internationally as well as locally) needed him the most- in the wake of 2016’s NZ Flag referendum, America’s Trumpocalypse, Brexit in Europe and Jexit (John Key’s exit) in NZ- Nokise vanished.
Or rather decided he’d had enough of the hoopla and was going to throw in the political commentary towel and spend an hour talking sports like a good kiwi bloke.
Or did he? Nokise lulls us into a false sense of sport security before actually hitting us with his on point political and social commentary the entire time.
The poster issa ruse, however don’t complain, because much like the promo pic for his show you’ve GOT to know that it’s not what you’re going to get.
And if you didn’t click second or third joke in, mate, c’mon.
In amongst all the laughter Nokise seamlessly unpacks a myriad of issues- disguised as a Sky-sport post match package- holding a mirror up to our society and telling us to flex.
It’s great, it’s good banter ranging from his Samoan father’s favourite sport, to theories on why Steven Adams- who I swear looks more Mexican than Tongan- signals the end of the All Blacks as he makes his way through a list of sports.
He trusts his audience’s intelligence levels, comfortably discussing sports and complex issues in a way that’s not an hour of calling out racists, or of impersonations of minorities- though you do get a bit of both.
With the finesse of a performer completely at ease on stage his style of structured- but loaded with tangents- set keeps the audience not only entertained and in stitches, but has them thinking ‘well goddamn’.
We highly recommend you grab yourselves tickets to his remaining shows- you can do so here.
Multinesia Produtions in association with THE EDGE presents Black Faggot, a play written by Victor Rodger, directed by Roy Ward and produced by Karin Williams and enjoyed by anyone smart enough to grab a ticket. Starring talented actors, Iaheto Ah Hi and Taofia Pelesasa, as a torrent of memorable characters from an ‘undercover brother’ to a proud Samoan mother and gruff Samoan father to a ‘famous as’ fa’afafine, the LOLs will most definitely not be silent at the Herald Theatre in Aotea Square until after Black Faggot’s stint ends on the 8th of March.
Rodger’s play about what it means to be young, poly and gay; as told through a multitude of flash sketches is, unsurprisingly, riddled with sexual references, simulated sexual acts and potty mouthed characters. The sharp writing packs a punch both emotionally and comically, Black Faggot is never short on the wit, managing to illicit a cackle every other minute and in the next instance managing to evoke stirring moments of acute poignancy. Poignant enough to drag an emotion from even the coldest dead heart of this black soul. We’re lucky to see the play before it heads off to international festivals, picking up many much-deserved awards along the way. Ward’s direction sees a very simple production without sets, props, costumes, music or effects- just two great actors, excellent lighting, and perfect timing.
Taofia Pelesasa and Iaheto Ah Hi do a stunning job of portraying each character with the right amount of high energy and exaggeration, Iaheto’s explicit (though fully-clothed) scenes are an excellent combination of over the top sounds and absurd facial expressions. He did warn us he’d throw in some ‘extra innapropriate moaning’ for the heck of it. Much appreciated!
“@JawkwardLOL: @iaheto we’re attending the Thursday show. We are most excited.” Fantastic! Might add some extra inappropriate moaning.
Taofia’s ability to hush an audience with an expression is realised with each monologue as Christian, a young Samoan praying to God to make him straight. Starts off initially as a light-hearted request but each time he comes back to ‘pray the gay away’ you feel the hopelessness building. Christian’s last monologue is perhaps the most affecting moment of the night as he pleads with an unanswering God about why he didn’t make him straight if it was what God wanted. When Christian informs God of his weariness with his situation, of being tired of his dad looking at him like he wishes Christian wasn’t his son, the way Taofia’s voice stalls like he’s barely holding it together is an exquisite show of skill.
The play doesn’t shy away from confrontation at all, from confrontational gay characters to outright gestures of homophobic prejudices and immature namecalling right alongside brilliant lines. These all work together to offer an insightful commentary on how the paradigms of homosexuality and the pacific are shifting but not without continued effort. With the largest Polynesian city in the world, Auckland New Zealand, as the backdrop you’re treated to an array of characters and stories all transitioning into each other seamlessly. Woven so well, and sometimes without even a breath in between, the monologues, scenes and ridiculously hilarious sketches seem to form a rich Pacific tapestry of lives and experiences of not only gay Polys but of those around them.
Seriously, go see ‘Black Faggot’ at Herald Theatre, Aotea Square. Last two shows this Saturday, 8 March.
My family spent an extensive portion of my formative years living in America. I was 3 years old when we first arrived and I was 8 when we finally came back to New Zealand, so it’s safe to say that the Californian accent was pretty ingrained at this point. Shucks even now, 16 years since we lived in the states (with the occasional visit here and there) I still have a bit of an American twang. I still get asked if I’m American, or whether I’m American Samoan (even the notion) and I’ve come to just accept it. Which is a little unfair because when I visit family in the US I’ve been mocked for my Kiwi accent and yet in New Zealand I’m questioned about my American twang. As a kid growing up I always felt a bit alienated because of this, nowadays it’s a great conversation starter. Not that I actively seek out social interaction. What on earth do you take me for? A fully functional human being? Preposterous!
Anecdote: I worked part time in a retail store all through college (high school) and university. One of my jobs was to make the announcements over the intercom. I’ll be honest, for the most part I dicked around and used ridiculous accents, it got to the point where it would just sound weird if I spoke normally. Despite this, I’d only been complained about all of three times, only two of which were valid. That is, when I made an announcement with an Indian accent, when I made an announcement with a really really bad Russian accent and finally when I spoke without attempting any random accent at all. The first two were valid complaints, the third one notsomuch. I can understand people picking out fake Indian accents (unless I’m the super vedi good?) and the really bad Ruski accent, however some customer complained after I made an announcement in my normal speaking accent. It was ‘really bad because [I] was trying too hard to do a Canadian accent and that it was offensive and just the worst attempt at an accent [they’d] ever heard.’ The only person offended that day was me.
Well hello imaginary friends, sorry this review’s a day late but what can I say I lead a ‘what I call’ exciting life. Meaning I mowed the lawn yesterday and it tired me out completely. It was an eventful task, you see I had to move the lawn mower over concrete to get the last patch of grass on the other side. I’m not familiar with mowers (or manual labour) so I had no idea how to do this without breaking a blade. I lifted the blasted thing, it’s freakin’ heavy, at an odd angle and it started smoking profusely and stopped working. The lawn mower’s somewhat new and also belongs to my mother so when it stopped working so did my heart. Oil started dripping and the thing you pull to start it wouldn’t pull. Mum kept yelling out why the lawn mower was off and each time I heard her voice I about passed out from fear. I was also in a dress so it provided no layering should she find her lawn mower broken and decide to come at me with the machete. I tell you now when I looked up and saw my mum standing there, the machete she uses to attack weeds in her garden with in her hand, I contemplated faking a seizure. However by some sheer stroke (pun) of luck I pulled the string and the engine roared to life. You have no idea how narrowly I avoided death yesterday, Samoan mums are renowned for their quick tempers and boomerang jandals, but my mum? She’s renowned for her quick tempers and even quicker machete thrust. Heh, thrust.
Right, Miranda! Sorry about the long anecdote now on to the episode! First of all. Penny for, what I call, Power! Wouldn’t that be just a little bit terrifying? Yet still ‘such fun!’ I’m sorry but tax break for anyone willing to marry Miranda? Oh Penny, you are, what I call, bloody hilarious. Tax evasion: SUCH FUN.
Big News: Gary has been dating and is now an item with someone named Rose. Miranda’s face was nothing compared to mine. How dare they mess with my OTP? When Miranda throws food in Rose’s face, priceless, in fact any interaction between Miranda and Rose is hilarious. Although Miranda is borderline, outright mean. It’s not really Rose’s fault that Gary is one half of my OTP. In all seriousness however I think it’s necessary for Miranda to not be so hung up on Gary, surely if they were meant to happen they would have happened already. Granted they have but I believe they need to be apart and emotionally attached to other people in order to fully appreciate each other.
Because “Who wouldn’t want a bit of this? You, want a bit. Want a bit of this. I’m aware it’s gone weird, camp and slightly threatening. Sorry.”
We end up in the club where Miranda meets Michael because Tilly has a freakout about being in their mid-30s, single and doing some curry exam. Sh convinces them they need to go out on the pullingtins. Tilly-isms. However it takes Gary and his girlfriend jogging and winding up in Miranda’s flat and asking to shower in her house (what? Why? Who does that?) to convince her. While both Tilly and Stevie find guys to dance with fairly quickly Miranda, dancing a bit like a thunderbird who needs a wee, does her usual fine job of attracting men with her idiosyncrasies. Read as: not very well at all. Until, Michael! The reporter who called Miranda ‘lovely’ in It was Panning! Sorry but Miracheal is kind of an adorable name.
I hope he doesn’t go the way of Danny from the first episode of series 2, one episode and gone, which is unlikely now that he’s legitimately her boyfriend. They’re adorkable. I mean, he calls her QUIRKY. And this guy came back despite how many embarrassing moments he caught Miranda in. Also, they both had a hunch!
Trust Miranda to be arrested for impersonating a police officer. Trust her mother to suggest they swap clothes when the police leave the room so that Miranda could make it to her date on time. That entire scene had me in stitches.
Things that continue to work for this show:
Miranda breaking the fourth wall and including the audience in her bits. Even better when someone breaks the wall with her. ‘All night long, ALL NIGHT, ALL NIGHT.’
Don’t sing- BURSTS INTO SONG.
Miranda and Stevie’s friendship. ‘Got a second date, got a second date!’
Such fun! This year’s laugh.
Always ending up half naked somewhere.
‘You know when you get nervous socially, you end up lying to impress?’ Yes, Miranda will never stop doing this and in this episode she’s a special constable volunteer police and scuba dives. But we all do it, completely fine.
First cousin Benji.
Helloo and good mowwwning. Nik naks, nikkity naks. The wobbilly, bobbilly fleshy bits. CRINGE WALK.
I shall you leave you to ponder this important question… WHERE’S CLIVE?!