Rhys Darby: It's Rhys Darby Night

Article by Rebecca Gordon | 14 Aug 2009

There’s a palpable air of dismay amongst the audience when Rhys Darby announces the end of his gig, testimony to the joy-inducing powers of the comic’s don’t-want-it-to-end jumble of skits. Straight forward stand-up it ain’t, and Darby crams a belly-aching hour with inane diversions, demonstrating a crowd-commanding aptitude perhaps until now overshadowed by a certain Kiwi band-manager.

While ‘Murray’ takes a back seat, Darby utilizes his dramatic faculties to bring into being a new range of Antipodean personas, weaving appearances from small-town New Zealanders throughout the fragmented routine. But just as he informs a doubtfully scoffing audience of his mime and sound effects roots, his crowning moments take the form of physical humour, kicking off a slew of uproarious audience responses with a highly energetic depiction of a broken ‘Transformers’ toy.

Darby’s knack for cooking up scenarios and plugging their comedic value for all its worth benefits the spontaneous performance, deriving self-referential anecdotes from a catalogue of faux-pas committed by the alien abroad. Delivered with grinning self-deprecation, his set bears the hallmark of an experienced stand-up, as relaxed as it is contrived. If character performances are a little flat, Darby still triumphs to provide a wholly satisfying evening of high-pitched variety.