Is climate change funny yet? Tim Batt asks the question
About three quarters of the way through his set, an audience member decided to heckle Tim Batt regarding his treatment of Wayne Brown (of all things). The hecklers complaint was that Batts extended riff on the things that Brown is older than (microwaves, for example), was ageist. That statement was no doubt true, but it missed the point that Batts remarks also happened to be, like Batts show overall, a sharp and smart comic critique of a well-drawn target. Comedy can have a funny relation to the truth. READ MORE: * Escapism at its finest: It's a laugh a minute at the Christmas Comedy Gala in Wellington * Fusing comedy and spelling, Guy Montgomery's new show will leave you grasping for a dictionary * Looking for that next hit of laughter: school teaches skills of making mirth * How two Kiwi comics could become the next Flight of the Conchords For example, just because things are true doesnt mean that cant also be funny. Take climate change, for instance. At the core of Batts show is an extended rumination on the existential threat posed by climate change (as well as some enthusiastic autobiographic accounts of a range of illicit substances). Batt doesnt shy away from the grim realities of global warming, nor the political compromises that got us here. But that doesnt mean that the show itself is grim. Rather, Batt adeptly slips into the role of a smiling cynical truth teller. Batt is an assured and affable guide to the destruction of our planet who can expertly string his audience along by not so much weaving stories as delivering facts: so much so that many of his punchlines arent even jokes, just unlikely truths delivered with a cavalier grin. Eli Matthewsons comic truth is more personal. More psychological. The central comic theme of Matthewsons Gutterball is the intrusive thought: the impulse to do something horrible or destructive that slips into your mind uninvited. Asked to share their own intrusive thoughts, one audience member admitted to a desire to push a baby carriage in front of a train. That sort of thing. Though the material at points tends pretty dark, Matthewson is gregarious on stage: strutting, posing, punctuating his performance with his own laughter. The idea of the invasive thought allows Matthewson to mine a range of ethically questionable acts for humour as he reflects on whether he might deep down be an evil person. Nowhere is this as apparent as in his hilarious reflections on his former job as a breakfast radio DJ: a bit that combines an incisive examination of toxic radio culture and some vicious dunking on Ed Sheeran. While Sheeran is hardly an unexpected target, amongst a general turn towards relatable and positive comedy, it just feels good to watch a comedian entertainingly and authentically tear down an easy target like Sheeran. Somethings are just funny because theyre true.