Comedy Festival 2008, Transmission Room
May 7-10 | Reviewed by Darren Bevan

THERE was a real South Island feel to this show – and despite the less than full Transmission Room audience, Justine Smith and her warm up act (both apparently from Christchurch) worked pretty hard to keep them amused.

The Transmission Room has been an interesting venue as comics which have played there this year have made the most of the multimedia facilities available in their shows – although not always to their full capabilities (more on that later).

After an opening comment from Justine’s mum in Christchurch, she walked on stage complete with ukelele and pinny, and with help from a friend, sang us all a not too unpleasant rendition of Haere Mai. From there, she went on to explain that it was her first festival in New Zealand in over three years and she’d come from living in Australia.

The show’s theme was essentially about Justine’s life and how her attempts to fit in had landed her in the stand up game as well as using the monitor to bring some of her tales of youth to life. She played to the best of her abilities and her often rambling style was sidelined by her own habit of getting distracted mid sentence and going off on another tangent. At one point, she even halted her distracted train of thought and wondered aloud –“What are you talking about Jussi?”

But I have to say she was fairly amiable and funny at times with many barbs at life in Christchurch (the home of growing violence in her mind) as well as one liners about being employed as a fluffer for Puppetry of the Penis, to comments on hairdressers being the ones to leave third form at school because “someone has to go”.

The only minor niggle with her show was the reliance on the multimedia element; not the fact that it broke at the end (“Just what I wanted – that raw feel to my show”) – various recorded skits were amusing – but the fact she had to nip off to the side to start them up was a little jarring to the overall flow. The skits themselves were funny; one of the best saw her Shortland Street audition taped with a friend at home, as well as nights out on the lash with Kermit the Frog.

Overall, Return of the Jussi was at times, a hilarious romp down a career path which seemed to make some form of sense – it was just too disjointed because of the equipment.