|Bailey gets one up on Mamma Mia|
Bill Bailey – Limboland
Michael Fowler Centre
2 November 2014
In last night’s Wellington performance, English comedian Bill Bailey showed the advantages of knitting together a comedy set with good-natured tangential rambling, strong energy and physical humour, and by not dumbing down a routine for international audiences – for example, leaving in a Wildean reference to a seemingly ageless David Cameron ‘having a portrait in his attic’.
Commencing with an introductory conversation about the recent New Zealand election, Bailey showed that he’d done more research than just scanning that morning’s newspaper, but fortunately he swiftly moved on to more interesting fare, issuing a mild but entertaining rant about the underwhelming world of British politics. (On Labour leader Ed Miliband: ‘The man looks like he’s just caught the bouquet at a funeral’).
Satire soon merged into Bailey’s traditional mix of musical comedy and observational whimsy, both of which still work admirably on stage with Bailey having honed his performance skills over many years. Tales of run-ins with wounded geese, Buckingham Palace security, the perils of taking your elderly in-laws dog-sledding to see the Northern Lights, intimidating catchphrase-quoting Estonian airport security, and the marvellously British phrase used to appraise weekends: ‘Not too bad really, all things considered’, all attracted Bailey’s deft mock outrage and bewilderment.
The musical aspects of Bailey’s act still provide many of the most memorable highlights, including his justifiable scorn for the jelly-legged performing chimps in boyband One Direction, the strident Teutonic joys of rendering pop songs in German as if they were performed by Kraftwerk or Rammstein, and an updated foray into dub reggae for his reimagining of the Downton Abbey theme, replete with ironic dialogue clips (‘a bouillon spoon!’). He also made a daring venture into impersonating the New Zealand accent (emerging largely unscathed) for his spiel on inappropriate accents for metal bands - ‘Sux Sux Sux, number of the Beast’.
Bill Bailey might be a pricey night out in New Zealand, but with his years of experience and well-honed affable stage presence he’s still worth every penny.
Comedy: Reginald D. Hunter, 8 May 2014
Comedy: Bill Bailey, 3 October 2012
Comedy: Dylan Moran, 23 April 2006