Comedy Festival 2008, Trust Wallace Gallery
May 6-10 | Reviewed by Darren Bevan

ON FIRST entering the little room where Dave’s scheduled to play, I was immediately confronted by a flow chart in the centre of the stage and a cartoon picture of a whale on one side of the stage, and a cartoon picture of a human on the other. It was nice to see that a stage was being used for a few props, as if set dressing was still a part of the show. It was also likely to be an interesting night in terms of material – for those of you who don’t know, Dave Wiggins is one of the few comics I’ve seen who refuses to go the path of the gutter in terms of his material and provides only “clean comedy” – which given how some of the festival crowd this year have got their best laughs from obscenities would suggest he may already been on a losing streak. However, this is the path he’d chosen and much of his young audience at the show tonight, didn’t seem to mind.

Dave, an American turned Kiwi stand up, walked past the crowd to get onto the stage and immediately tried a bit of audience interaction – only to be met by the now common practice of folded arms and silence from the crowd. Undeterred, (“If we like it, we laugh – if we don’t we groan – hey that’s cool”) he launched into how his show was about what it meant to be human, taking in some of the differences between men and women, Hamilton, how fashion is cyclical (“My 89 corolla will be coming back in soon”), the absurdities of shop prosecution signs (“You steal, you pay” – how does that work?) to the New Zealand news media. This section was a favourite of mine, covering the absurdities of the so called NZ News hour – where to be honest, not much happens in New Zealand.

He then proceeded to run through some of the more absurd stories covered by the news network in the past year – from the insanity of the removal of the Air NZ biscuit during flights – “You even asked Helen Clark for a comment – and she did!” to the All Blacks taking a day off during the Rugby World Cup.

Dave’s manner was affable and amiable – he dealt with the stubbornness of the crowd through sheer energy (although I have to say his microphone was a little loud which sometimes proved distracting) and by forcing them to interact with him – but never in an aggressive way and was adept at dealing with any minor heckles and weird laughter. (“Is there an evil superhero in here plotting?” was to one person whose laugh was somewhat weird and rang out longer than others.)

Dave finished off his show with a flow chart detailing a few differences between men and women, used graphs to show how nutty chocolate bars are and a terribly corny parrot/pirate joke led into some word play with a bongo and cymbal set finish.

All in all, while it may not have been easy to tailor material to a clean comedy prerogative, it was nice to see Dave Wiggins’ energy and general good natured humour come through and triumph in an environment which so often relies on smut – I think some of his material could be a little sharper at times, but I have to say comments like having a baby due on September the 11th (“my twin towers of social and financial freedom will crumble on that day – I’m sorry”) show he has an incredibly dry side which is just waiting to come out – which is no bad thing.