Review: Bill Bailey at the Aotea Centre | LIFESTYLE | TV ONE | [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Review: Bill Bailey at the Aotea Centre
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
By Darren Bevan

I guess if you're a comedian, then there are some things which you can expect.

Such as heckling.

Although watching the start of Bill Bailey's show at Auckland's Aotea Centre last night, it didn't look as if the former Black Books and Hot Fuzz star was expecting the crowd to heckle him about the noise level.

But it set the tone for a suitably surreal and nonsensical evening.

As he shambled on stage after a multimedia slide show demonstrated how he'd evolved from an amoeba years ago, Bill Bailey seemed ready to let fire with his usual stream of verbose consciousness, laced with musical moments.

However, when one of the crowd shouted that his microphone was too loud and another joined in saying that it was too quiet, Bill quickly adapted to the somewhat laid back attitude of the Monday Auckland audience, by incorporating a sound check into the beginning of the show.

Once he was satisfied that it was all ok - this was gauged by an audience member telling him that it was fine now - there was no stopping him from touching on the absurdities of life and general non- sequiturs on anything which seems to cross his mind.

His set up on stage looked as if an electronic band such as Orbital or Kraftwerk were about to rock the venue, with a rack of synthesisers, guitars and lights strewn all over.

But being a classically trained musician, Bailey has always incorporated music into his ramblings - and this time, on an unsuspecting audience, he unleashed the horrors of what a sampled customised English song for the London Olympics would sound like - complete with its catchy and irritating "Go London" chant.

With a smattering of topical material - including how there was likely to be no half measures for Barack Obama as he'd either be president or shot, and how the opening credits for Friends would look different if it used exactly the same lyrics to the Rembrandts' annoying ditty but interlaced the montages with shots of the people of New Orleans rather than the annoying likes of Ross, Rachel et al, it was clear that Bailey's admission that he had a tendency to over analyse things was what led him on a path to absurdism.

It's very difficult to analyse what makes a comedian funny and I'm willing to admit that to some, those comments about New Orleans and Obama may look crass. Yet, Bailey's strength has always been that he's so disarming and at times, a wide eyed buffoon obsessed with the insane minutiae of life, that he's instantly likeable.

However, he's equally unpredictable with seemingly out of nowhere comments like "It's the joggers I don't trust, they're always the ones who find the bodies" and "Ever noticed how on film, Ben Affleck looks like he's just realised he's left the back door open?" perfectly natural during discussion on topics like celebrity, customs and terrorism.

Another cornerstone of Bailey's stand up through the 20 odd years he's been performing is the music - his range as a musician is just incredible.

During his show he managed to turn the UK National Anthem into a jazz number, fashioned quotes from George Bush about the wetlands into a dance number reminiscent of Paul Hardcastle's Vietnam hit, 19, converted the Imperial March from Star Wars into a scat number before going to put the Some Mothers Do Have 'Em music under a Terminator 3 sequence to comical effect.

If there's one criticism of the show, it's that the second half felt a little flatter than the first with the material not feeling as strong.

Honestly though, that's a minor complaint given how hard I laughed during throughout the performance.

I left Bill Bailey's show feeling none the wiser but thoroughly entertained and when you go to see a comedian of his calibre, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

How do you want your news

  • Mobile Devices

    TVNZ is available on mobile phones: Text TVNZ to 8869.

  • News Feeds

    See when TVNZ have added new content. You can get the latest headlines anywhere.

  • Podcasts

    Enjoy TVNZ on the move - a wide range of programmes and highlights are available.