Following the unanimous critical success of his 2018 show, Leon Wadham returns to the stage for more unbridled, non-stop hilarity in the 2019 New Zealand International Comedy Festival. Employing a more structured narrative than Giddy, yet no less garrulous, Funk is a journey of self-discovery that uses personal anecdotes to reflect the universal themes of identity and one’s place in the world.
Instigated by the paralysis of ageing, Wadham searches for meaning in his day-to-day life, before embarking on the mandatory overseas experience of the privileged and cultured elite. From the Sistine Chapel to the Sedlec Ossuary, he visits a variety of tourist hotpots, all of which remain unnamed yet identifiable thanks to Wadham’s physicality and observations, in an attempt to find a way out of the funk.
As a comedian, Wadham is, quite simply, brilliant. Not one word of the voluble text is either superfluous or wasted, as Wadham articulates his way with gymnastic dexterity through an avalanche of thoughts. It’s a narrative style the closest of which you’ll ever hear to an inner monologue being spoken aloud, and when coupled with his physical comedy, to which he fully commits in even the most surreal symbolisms, the result is a masterclass in performance.
What gives Wadham the extra edge though, is his relationship to the audience. This self-proclaimed need for attention may seem narcissistic at first, but when Wadham connects with you, be it with a simple glance, it’s a moment of pure joy. This extraversion extends to near masochistic levels when you realise Wadham has given you everything he has for the past hour. A truly humbling gift from a truly great performer.