What a dream combination this should be: last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award-winner Rose Matefeo teaming up with four other gifted Kiwi comics (Alice Snedden, Guy Montgomery, Eli Matthewson and Chris Parker) for a late-night hour. And Snort is so close to living up to that hype. It even manages to overcome the initial wince you might make at hearing the phrase "improvised comedy", since this fivesome are reassuringly competent on-the-spot performers.
But it saunters into proceedings a little too loosely for an 11pm slot. The show’s minimal audience participation is both commendable and, in some ways, innovative (a single word from the crowd inspires a guest comedian to riff for a few minutes; said riff inspires the improv troupe), but it means the really juicy stuff—five remarkably talented brains playing out bizarre scenarios—takes a minute to get going.
The improv is a freewheeling joy, chaotic without being incoherent, and certainly the product of a troupe who know each other well (Snort has a cult following back in Auckland, with a rotating cast of 15). They mine the guests’ otherwise dry riffs for fertile scenes and do so seemingly telepathically—tonight we explore curtains, water and apples—and the loose structure permits some pretty wild voyages. Not every scene is a winner – though are they ever, in improv?
For all the lulls the format creates, it’s a refreshing departure from the usual Whose Line-style games and prompts, and really gives the space these young New Zealanders need to wax lunatic for our enjoyment.