Comedy Festival 2008, Auckland Town Hall
May 7-10 | Reviewed by Darren Bevan

AS THE show began, a colleague mentioned to me that Brendan Lovegrove could be acerbic and vulgar and I’d do well to hide my notebook (sat as close to the front as we were) just in case. And he was right to do so – though thankfully I was not a target (unlike those sat next to us).

The show was quite a departure for the International Comedy Festival, given that it was signed for a deaf audience as well with an interpreter on the stage. I have to admit, this was probably the savviest thing I’ve seen on a comedy show stage for a while – and not just because I was interested in learning some of the signs for certain phrases (although I do now know the sign for Awesome).

The show began with Te Radar and his tribulations of making TV these days and how it sucks the life out of you – from there, it was a slightly surreal trip through how two men masturbate bulls for milk (“one to make the erotic cooing sound” ), animals making love and the etiquette of making a soap knife in case Te ever found himself in jail.

It was a kind of manic start to the show, and Te’s introduction to Brendhan set the tone as he divulged how Brendhan was suffering from diarrhoea and may perform a shortened set if the toilet called.

And it was at that point Mr Lovegrove emerged, admitting he’d just had an episode on the toilet and it was all the fault of a kebab after a party on Auckland’s K’ Road.

I’d never seen Brendhan before but anyone who starts with toilet humour is likely to get the crowd going, and he certainly did as he rattled through a whole list of subjects such as how he’d failed to get a job as a tomato in a Watties ad, MCing quiz nights in Helensville and Kaukapakapa (“The highest score was 9 out of 61”), the usual trip through the living in Australia situation, to how he managed to start a row between his two female flatmates after eating some of their carefully labelled food when wearing lipstick so he’d be free from blame.

He had some pretty funny bits as he took on Scotland (“You lot are mental – I’ve never seen a race so passionate about f**k all”), the USA (cue Brendhan pretending to fire a machine gun onstage to make the Americans feel at home), barbs at New Plymouth (“Do you masturbate to Country Calendar?”) and how the discovery of a giant squid had taken the heat off Helen Clark.

I have to say – to my shame – the best bits of the show were when he became completely un-PC and launched a tirade of abuse simply to see how the interpreter would pass that onto the deaf audience. And his idea for a Mastercard ad using an African child was tasteless and yet somehow hilarious, given his vitriol and slight mean streak.

It was this constant tirade of un-PC behaviour which really saw him cut loose and hit a chord with the Thursday night audience. He’s threatened during the show that this 2008 appearance would be his last festival stand up and I can only say that if that’s the case, the circuit would lose one of their finest – although quiz nights at Kaukapakapa and Helensville would, it appears, benefit.