Comedy Festival 2008, The Classic
April 19-May 10 | Reviewed by Darren Bevan

I REMEMBER Paul Tonkinson from my student days while back in the UK – he was a big part of a student hangover show on a Sunday morning and was a star in the rising then. So to find him still on the scene some 17 or so years later is not really a surprise – and to see him winning awards is easily comprehended after seeing his opening show at the Classic.

It’s his first international appearance and he bounded on stage full of the joys and also glad to be doing stand up hands free. He’s to all intents and purposes, a fairly jovial comic, who has no problem interacting with the crowd and spouting forth on such matters as having children (and their fascination with smearing faeces everywhere – “A dirty daily protest”), rows with partners over making sandwiches (“clean up as you go along), how French you learn at school only allows you to speak a limited number of phrases before the fear grips you as you realise a conversation is underway, the war on terror (which took him to Iraq and is proving quite a nice little earner for him as he wants to redecorate his kitchen), and of course, blow jobs and the etiquette required for such a situation.

The crowd, while initially laid back and teased by Tonkinson for what he had already heard about the kiwi legendary audience apathy, eventually lapped it up – despite their being no overall theme to the performance (something he made perfectly clear to start off with). Although it was his first visit to the New Zealand scene, there was never any indication he was remotely intimidated by new territory. Recommended.