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Philip Patston: Comedy festival review

Philip Patston - A Bit of What He's Got

From the moment you walk -or wheel- into the Herald Theatre for Philip Patston's New Zealand International Comedy Festival Show A Bit of What He's Got it is clear that you are not in for an hour of conventional stand-up comedy.

This is not for the obvious reasons of his well-earned spot on the margins of the margins as a gay, disabled, ex-vegetarian and even ex-Shortland Street extra.

Rather, it is attributable to the presence of a series of artworks in the foyer of the Herald painted by a selection of Unitec Fine Arts students. Philip Patston invites his audience to stare at, interpret and decipher the various facets to his personality which he has conveniently alliterated as: Trauma, Tragedy, Tricky, Triumphant and Tree-like, as a representation of his social agenda about diversity.

It is an accurate assumption to think that this social agenda will seep into his stage performance - even though he likes to believe he has lured his audience in with a technique called the, "sh*t-sandwich"- opening with comedy and then launching into a philosophical debate about how society deals with change and approaches diversity.

This debate is not one-sided either, he projects an image of his flyer on the screen behind him accompanied by his mobile number and invites the audience to text him feedback throughout the show.

Inevitably the audience had a sense of humour as well and the texts were largely to the tune of, "Take it off" and "Take it all off."

Philip begins the show by pacing back and forth across the stage, telling the audience this is how he would perform if he could walk- he has recently acquired an electric wheelchair which enables him to "pace nervously".

His comedic timing is true to form as he discusses his ideas about the "Unique Experience" and the "Common Experience."

"The Common Experience" (or C-Ex) he explains is reserved for those of us who dominated the middle section of the seats- as the front and back rows were reserved for individuals in wheelchairs and their mobility dogs who were so well-behaved they earned a poetic shout-out from Philip.

He explains that the "U-Ex," or "Unique Experience" is simply less boring than the common one.

Good point.

His perspective is anything but boring.

Philip never loses the crowd, his insights are simple and intelligent and the multimedia employed throughout the show provides some of the visual diversity he wants us to recognise.

A Bit of What He's Got  runs from Tues 5 - Sat 9 May, 7pm at the Herald Theatre