Reviews

Review for ‘Meatatarian Yogi’

THEATREVIEW – 14 February 2014
‘Warm, Razor Sharp Wit’ – New Zealand Fringe Festival Review-
Maryanne Cathro

Sarah Harpur’s new one woman show is all about how to be happy, do yoga and eat sausages.

I like Sarah Harpur’s style and really like this latest offering. Her material is realistically upbeat, honest, vulnerable and funny, funny, funny. The zany is still there as always, but grounded in some pretty important home truths about the human condition and how to navigate it.

While exploring whether it is possible to eat meat and become a yogi (hardly a spoiler as the title tells us this much!), Harpur combines reminiscences of her past in rural Dannevirke with her experiences as a self-help book reading truth-seeker.

The opening night audience find it hilarious because anyone who has ever been to a self-help seminar or read the books or bought the affirmation tapes will hear something of themselves in all of this. And in much of her confessional narrative there are pearls of hard earned wisdom.

I find this humour warm, razor-sharp witty, and free from nasty. This is so refreshing in a comedy scene so dominated by aggressive humour. Like a fresh lime juice marguerita in a sea of flat beer, Harpur’s energy rises above the pack.

Who knows, you may come away not only replete from so much laughter, but also a little wiser.

Originally published on Theatreview.

Reviews for ‘Harpur’s Bizarre- Life. Death. Pets.’

FUGGEDABOUDID- 28 April 2010
‘Brilliantly Bizarre’ -NZ International Comedy Festival Review- Lindsay Mutch

It was raining, so I popped open my social umbrella and attended the opening night of Sarah Harpur’s first solo act, “Life. Death. Pets.” at the Fringe Bar in Wellington.

If you live in Wellington, or are rich and within flying distance, I strongly encourage you to see the show as it only runs for a few days.

To be honest, I didn’t know much about Sarah beforehand. She has a popular blog, Harpur’s Bizarre, which Google thinks was ripped off, corrupted and used as the name of a magazine somewhere.

Sarah is quite amazing. Who else could simultaneously convey a sense of nervousness and confidence? All while delivering some fantastic material about her life, her insights into death and quite a lot about how, when growing up, she viewed her pets as her children. Her cute, delicious children. Who ate each other (extreme sibling rivalry) and taught her graphic lessons about procreation.

How many people could get the joint rocking to a song about her dad’s death? Yes, Sarah, I want to join the Dead Dad’s Club too. My own old man went in a way not totally dissimilar to yours. I really related.

To demonstrate her inherent weirdness Sarah interrupted the show with an audio-visual presentation from her youth, where she presented her own hilarious interpretation of the Bain Family slayings in Dunedin. Complete with action figures with Bain faces pasted on. See it here (but later because I haven’t worked out how to do one of those “open in a new window” link thingies).

It was opening night, so most of the front row was Sarah’s family and friends. Which, mixed with the cosy venue, meant it felt like we were all in Sarah’s living room, being treated to an hour of an intelligently unhinged person’s brilliant stream-of-consciousness rant.

I sat at the back and recalled attending the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal in 1996. And wished many of the acts there could have been half as good as Sarah.

THEATREVIEW 28 April 2010
NZ International Comedy Festival Review- Lyne Pringle

Bubbly and bouncy in killer blue heels, Sarah Harpur, ‘white trash’ escapee from Dannevirke, struts onto the stage to fill us in on the themes of her show.

With good support from a home crowd, sparkling patter and delightfully crooked teeth she soon has us chuckling and at times laughing from the belly.

Her 4th form English project in the form of a macabre re-enactment of the Bain murders is a dark and technically accurate piece of genius, proof of her talents at an early age.

Also very engaging is a rave about the domestication of animals including cat milking, a soap opera for pedigree dogs and a song about sheep.

She has a snappy guitar thing throughout her set with her Dead Dad’s Club song a highlight – a comedian’s bizarre way of dealing with family trauma.

Lots of killer and clever one-liners pepper the focussed and clever writing in her show as she mines her background for a distinctive take on the biggies: life, death and a unique perspective on the role of pets in our lives.

She is good; darkly sparkly, talented, energised and worth checking out.

SALIENT 10 May 2010
Comedy Festival Review- Nic Sando

This is a glowing review, just so you know. I think Harpur is a tops performer, and her show was well structured and rather daring.

The thing is, Sarah Harpur does glow when she’s on stage. With her ditzy persona, good looks and bright sunny attitude, you are happy to let the pretty lady sell you on her jokes. It’s because of that people often ignore a pointed darkness found directly under her curly blonde hair tendrils. To expand, part of her show was a short film she made in the 90s reenacting the Bain murders with Barbie dolls, and that was awesome.

Harpur’s show was built around discussions of life, pets and death. Some of the material was stuff she uses in her shorter sets, but there was a bunch of deeply personal material. The death sequence discussed the suicide of her father as a bit of a jolly jape, and somehow it worked. Harpur is plumbing new territory as a solo performer now that she is growing comfortable with her comic persona, and I think it is working. She is at her best when she’s less frantic; her punch lines hit more deftly, so watching her when time isn’t an issue is definitely worthwhile

Reviews for The Comediettes- ‘Better Living’ 2010

THEATREVIEW 7 May 2010
Comedy Festival Review- Hannah Smith

The Comediettes: Better Living would make great skits for a late night TV show. Their combination of handy home hints and off-the-wall musical numbers is quirky, original and would easily garner a cult following. Kitsch is the new cool.

Jim Stanton makes dry observations on her name, her relationships and her eating habits; Sarah Harpur is energetic, and toes the line of good taste with a giant smile plastered on her face. The two energies work well together and their musical numbers work a treat.

The stage looks great. They have excellent (presumably self-made?) costumes, and a set of beach balls and beach umbrellas. There are lights, lighting changes and a really good chase. The whole is colourful and bright and eccentric and cheerful – money went into this. That’s novel.

The crowd last night was small. While a less professional pair might have faltered in the face of thin laughter, Harpur and Stanton kept the energy up and delivered a slick and stylish show. Nevertheless I think this would have been buoyed by the energy of a bigger crowd. So you should all go see it and give them the audiences they deserve.

SCOOP 19 February 2010
Fringe Review- The Comediettes ‘Better Living’- Ali Little

Comedians Sarah Harpur and Jim Stanton gild their well-paced two-woman standup show with the trappings of crazed 1950s housewives, complete with cheerful aprons and diazepam-bright smiles. Both use skewed anecdotes of their country-girl childhoods as a starting point for comedy, but have styles sufficiently different for the effect to be one of harmony rather than repetition.

Stanton’s humour is mostly wry and self-directed. She shares an epic song of angst from her teenagehood, dances with delicious awkwardness, and reflects on the way that relationships mellow over time from romance to comfort. Her stage persona is smart and likable, with just enough bitter to balance the sweet.

Harpur, as always, delights in playing with darker humour, teasing the audience with word play that goes close to the edge without quite tripping over it. She sings a cheerfully brutal tribute to a lamb that is about to become chops, and mocks cherished institutions such as motherhood and whale conservation.

While the show’s structure gives both women space to shine alone, the well-polished set pieces when both are on stage are also very enjoyable. Harpur uses her comedic guitar skills to fine effect while Stanton provides sterling ukulele support; both have pleasant voices and interact charmingly. Some of the clever lyrics were occasionally lost to the audience, particularly during the opening sequence. However to be fair, this was mostly because the audience were already laughing hard at a previous clever line.

The duo are reported to be off the Adelaide Festival next; where I expect their polished faux-country humour will go down a treat.

THEATREVIEW 19 February 2010
‘Comic Blend of Deadpan and Lively’- Priyanka Bhonsule

Having gathered, just a few of us, around James Nokise’s laptop for an intimate hour of comics and fantasy [Joker’s Guide to Armageddon], half an hour later we are struggling to find seats for The Comediettes show: Better Living.

All settled in, the feisty duo of Sarah Harpur and Jim Stanton launch into their spoof title song; a lifestyle segment on TV giving handy household hints. Last year’s Raw Comedy Quest winners, the two women know how to endear themselves to the audience and get the chuckles, giggles and belly laughs out.

After a duet about handy hints, the stage is left to Stanton to unleash her comedic genius on us. She starts with her childhood and adolescence, growing up on a farm in small-town NZ. Her comedy is self-assured and she tells her jokes deadpan.

We’re treated to a wee ditty which Stanton wrote as a 13-year-old trying to be an emo. She then moves onto how she tries to keep the romance alive in her relationship, keeping things steamy (not having the extractor fan on – zing!)

Harpur joins her on stage again and they do a hilarious bit on Titanic-themed weddings, singing a duet about love before we’re left to Harpur’s jokes.

She is the more physical and extroverted comedian of the two. Harpur’s face is more expressive; she does hilarious accents and impressions from dolphins to Irishmen. This blonde grew up on a farm as well, not the industrial type, she explains, but small nice type, where … [gag not given away].

Her life experiences, from being a young mother to job hunting while the recession was on, make for the best comedy of the night.

The jokes are endless, running thick and fast, and too many highlights to list here. The Comediettes have to be seen and heard to be enjoyed.

Reviews for ‘The Comediettes’ 2009…

THEATREVIEW- 21 May 2009
‘Sharp, Sassy and Wearing Stilettos’- Maryanne Cathro

It’s a bit like one of those jokes: a blonde, a redhead and a brunette go into a bar…

These girls really know the way to a woman’s heart. Mischief shoe discount vouchers on every chair at the venue!! I’m already won over!!

The Comediettes are Jim Stanton, Sarah Harpur and Emma Olsen.

Each Comediette has her own style. Jim Stanton, the redhead, is thoughtful and endearing, bouncing between being laid back and being incensed at people’s stupidity. I feel your pain, Jim. A successful mix of self-deprecation and satire as she banters with the audience. I can see us having a laugh over a coffee. At other people’s expense mind you. The coffee and the laughs, I mean.

Next up is Sarah Harpur. Sarah is the blonde and has a whacky, ditzy style that seems to come naturally, but she is WAY too clever for it to be real. Every joke hits the mark, she is in control and she knows it. Just when we don’t think we can take much more, out comes the guitar, courtesy of ‘Roadie Jim” and two hilarious songs. Put it this way, I won’t be commissioning Sarah to write a song in honour of MY 40th birthday (and not just because it was several years ago!).

Last up is brunette Emma Olsen. I’m a little phased by her act as the last time I saw Emma she was about four and I was a grown up, which serves to remind me how old I am, and how disconcerting it is to hear people you knew as children use the C word. Emma is not into self-deprecating humour, she is pure, self-absorbed Gen-Y in her merciless impressions of newsreaders, her stories of friends, family, heavy road equipment and a much-deserved dig at real estate agents.

I don’t know what I was expecting; these lasses are a far cry from Maeve Higgins’ cosy style of comedy. They are sharp, sassy and wearing stilettos, and they are not afraid to use them.

Bottom line, comedy is about making people laugh, and yup, that happened. I laughed, my husband laughed, the two English lasses sitting with us laughed, the whole audience laughed. Mission accomplished. I just can’t shake the feeling that the joke was on me.

THE LUMIERE READER- May 2009
‘The Comediettes’- Kate Blackhurst

THREE KIWI women walk into a pub. No, it’s not a joke, but it is a great night of comedy. The Comediettes (Fringe Bar, May 19-23) are book-ended by Jim Stanton and Emma Olsen, with Sarah Harpur thrown into the middle for contrast. Both have a fairly dead-pan delivery and have managed to master the art of saying truly random statements with a straight face.

This is the fourth time I have seen Jim and each time she walks a fine and well-balanced line between jaded cynicism and fresh material. She is at her best with physical comedy and throughout her piece about reluctant dancing I could feel her pain.

Emma introduces herself as the ethnic quotient of the trio and proceeds to pull random images (literally in some cases, which I won’t spoil for you) from the air. She makes a virtue out of ignorance and her line about proving that anyone can get a degree from Victoria University these days is nicely judged.

Sarah bounds onto the stage like a delinquent sunbeam. High pitched and high voltage she delivers spite with a smile. Her grin is so infectious that she can dish out the insults and you will readily laugh at yourself. The songs she performs at the end of her set are hilarious and she has a pukkah hunch when to deliver the sucker-punch. She is the winner of the 2009 Raw Comedy Quest and on the basis of this set, I can see why.

The Comediettes do themselves a slight disservice with their underwear-strewn set backed with airbrushed pictures of themselves a-la Desperate Housewives. The flyers for discounts on shoes were well received by the women in the audience although I overheard some muttering from a couple of men thinking it was all going to be “girls’ stuff”. These women are anything but desperate and in fact radiate composure which promises bright things for the future of New Zealand comedy.

TVNZ- 13 May 2009
‘The Comediettes’

From the quirky retro music to the stage set of washing line meets gallery, there is a tight theme of feminine nostalgia running through the show, giving it a bright, theatrical quality.

The girls are dressed up similarly, and are very sweet with their lipstick and heels, doing the sponsor proud.

The atmosphere generated by the show embodies, and offers, a fresh outlet for the pioneer war-time spirit the girls embrace – these girls are independent young women bringing forth material which entails: cannibalism, abortions and eaten pets.

Jim Stanton is a magnetic personality, with an impressive repertoir of voices and facial expressions.

Although faltering slightly, she won the audience over with an ability to isolate characteristics of children and adults alike, and most of the material was well received.

Sarah Harpur burst onto the stage as an indomitable bundle of enthusiasm, and managed to keep this up throughout her act.

With her initial self-deprecation, she had the audience on-side, keeping momentum for the most part.

While her preoccupation with her cat is sweet – the fact that it’s coupled with cannibalism is a little more unsettling.

The self-proclaimed queen of ‘taking it too far’ arguably did so once or twice, but all was forgiven with the brilliant songs with which she closed.

Emma Olsen’s pace initially distinguished her from the prior acts, giving her a self-aware highlight status.

Her wry humour and understated delivery got immediate laughs which continued throughout her set as she gave the audience a distinctly sincere window into her life – a rare achievement in the stand-up genre.

While the use of props seemed a little risky, this was actually one of the best parts, and overall one was left feeling that they were watching a warm and thoroughly likeable person.

CRITIC- March 30 2009
‘The Comediettes’- Jessica Jeffries

The Comediettes show at the Comedy Club in XII below was a great night out. It was good to get so see three different comedians in the one show. If you did not find one funny then there was still two others to suit your humour. I was worried with the femininity-focused advertising campaign that they would use female comedian clichés of crass and sex-based humour. Fortunately they did not. All three comedians had original material and were polished and competent performers.

Jim Stanton was first up and had the difficult job of warming the crowd up. Her bubby and smiley style worked perfectly as the opener. She started with jokes surrounding her “boy” name and then went on to talk about going to India. Stanton was a very practiced performer. I was impressed with her ability to know when to change the joke. She was like a great DJ who changes the song before you get sick of it. Stanton left you wanting more. She never embellished and extended at the risk of a joke getting stale.

Sarah Harpur was next up in a bright yellow dress and high heels. Her material on Dannevirke was good but some of her cat jokes went on for a wee bit long. Her songs were her strongest material. They added an extra element to The Comediettes show. It is always good to show off the different skills you have.

Emma Olsen finished the night on a high note. She was lucky to go last as the crowd were nice and warmed up by the time she made it to the stage. Olsen started weakly but then ended up being my favourite performer of the night. This was due to her fantastic deadpan style. She was so comfortable on stage and (like all the performers) her routine was polished and in control. Even when she did muck up she handled it so well my friend thought it was part of the show. Her routine was fresh, original and varied. I particularly liked the Real Estate agent’s letters, her reply and her reply to an uncomplimentary critic: “Jokes on you – I don’t even know what bewildered means.” I also loved the photos. It was great to have so much variation in the one performance with many of her jokes successfully reincorporated later. At only 22 years old, I expect lots more great comedy from her in the future.

The Comediettes are clever, witty and hot. Their show is great and varied with the differing styles of humour each brings to the trio. One thing I would have loved to seen was if all three of them could have done something on stage together. The Comediettes are definitely up there with the boys club that dominates the comedy world. I would recommend to anyone that they go and see the show. I look forward to their next trip to Dunedin.

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