Buckle up, this is a looooong post.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been somewhat preoccupied over the past few weeks, working alongside the team at Brown Bread to manage the socials for Bread & Circus – World Buskers Festival here in Christchurch. It’s both an immensely rewarding and chaotic role for a dynamic festival that underwent a facelift last year. Full of world-class talent from circus and burlesque to comedy, physical theatre, music and so much more, it is my favourite time of the year in Christchurch. I wrote about my experience as a spectator last year, so I’d suggest reading that first if you’re interested in knowing why the festival means so much to me and to our city.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the 2020 shows (so far); the good, the bad and the nasty:
Blanc de Blanc
The headlining act this year is Blanc de Blanc, a cabaret, comedy act centred on the theme of CHAMPAGNE. Get ready for a large dose of nudity, this show isn’t for the faint hearted or those who are easily offended. The French-born host, Romeo transports us to a night out at the Moulin Rouge in Paris (speaking of which, has anyone seen Féerie or French cabaret before?) By attending this show, you are signing up for a rowdy, unpredictable evening where anything goes. Okay, so it’s not quite as seedy as a sex show in Amsterdam, but you get the idea. Oh, and the contortion is next-level!
Flo & Joan
Where to even begin? Flo & Joan were, without a doubt, my favourite act of the festival so far. These two sisters share an unmistakable bond, whether it’s bickering on stage or sharing embarrassing information about one another, it’s hilariously relatable. My favourite song was, “I drank too much,” which musically chronicles a woman’s wild night out. Allegedly, when they performed it in Canada, nobody laughed because they were all deeply concerned for this woman’s wellbeing. Kiwis didn’t have the same reaction… Sadly, their time in Christchurch has now come to an end. However, on the off chance that you might manage to see them elsewhere, I wanted to express my IMMENSE love for these two.
Frickin Dangerous Bro
Hilarious yet incredibly poignant, this comedy trio is made up of three of New Zealand’s best stand-up comedians, Jamaine Ross, James Roque and Pax Assadi. Their style can be very loose at times, which means it’s hard to tell what’s being improvised and what is scripted – a testament to their talent. Their material ranges from delinquent school boys discusses the merits of Shakespeare to addressing race, gender and their own backgrounds in a pointed and thoughtful way.
Sven Ratzke: Where Are We Now
I had the privilege of seeing Sven perform twice last week, both at his show, Where Are We Now and at Feast of Fools where he danced on the tables while the audience sat awestruck. I also met up with him for a brief interview, and was thoroughly spellbound. I’d suggest reading this Cityscape review for a better picture of this magical show and celebration of David Bowie.
Never the same show twice, (we saw two shows and they were completely different) Mavericks is a variety show and quite literally a mixed bag of WTF. The performances incorporate traditional busking elements, harking back to the good ole days. Street performers, Mario Queen of the Circus and Satya Bella are both part of the show alongside Miss Behave (from last year’s Miss Behave Gameshow) and festival favourites, Daredevil Chicken (known for their infamous banana routine). It’s on until 9th February, so go check it out.
The Nasty Show
With the warning, “probs don’t bring your mum,” we really didn’t know what we were in for at The Nasty Show. Upon entering, we were told to leave if we were easily offended (lol) before different festival acts were let loose and given a long rein to say or do whatever was on their mind. Basically, nothing’s out of bounds and what ensued was equal parts hilarious and disturbing. Props to our host, Emile Mathieu who led us through this wild ride.
Described as surreal sketch circus, Laser Kiwi is an unusual mash up of Kiwi humour and impressive circus acts (we were in awe of the aerial routine). Everyone’s given a piece of paper outlining all of the skits and the trio often ask audience members to remind them what number we’re on. It’s oddly reminiscent of a school assembly. The jokes were all very Kiwi (they reference the flag referendum) but they’ve performed across the UK and Canada, so there’s obviously international appeal as well.
Last year I didn’t spend much time taking in the free (well, hatted) street performances, so I’ve made a point of checking out every single busker this year. These have been my favourites so far…
With the unique ability to not fall off precariously tall things, Rogan Josh manages to somehow defy gravity. And he does it all while smiling and connecting with his audience. I’ve seen this act a number of times and I still can’t get enough.
Photos by Charlie Rose Creative
Mario Queen of the Circus
Mario’s been coming to Christchurch since 2003 and his professionalism and expertise truly shines. He’s a class act and it shows. If you love Freddy Mercury and Queen, you’re going to LOVE Mario. He juggles, rides a unicycle (often with an audience member on his shoulders…) and smiles and sings through it all.
Sublimit: Sushi Show
All the way from Japan, I was absolutely mesmerised by this talented acrobatic duo, Guts and Yoko. Guts is a professional acrobatic artist and Yoko is a skilled gymnast, together they make up a dream team.
$hantalle & Jerry
These two are awkwardly hilarious, decidedly bogan and they have some mean tricks up their sleeves. Jerry also appeared in The Nasty Show and his French Canadian humour had me in stitches.
Jon Hicks – Man of Artistry
We saw Jon Hicks create an absolute masterpiece of Elvis and he did it all upside down. This is artistry at its finest and most dynamic.
Feast of Fools
I thought I’d save the best for last. Feast of Fools is the best event Christchurch has ever seen. A brilliantly-executed creative concept by the team at Catering Dept. and Bread & Circus, Feast of Fools makes Christchurch feel like a metropolitan city. After attending the inaugural event, it’s all I could talk about for the rest of the year.
I didn’t think this year could possibly top last year, but it did. We were given instructions to dress up in our finest attire (channelling year 12 formal or prom and incorporating the festival colour, pink) and directions to our meeting point on Oxford Terrace at the entrance to Victoria Square. Here we were greeted with gold drinks and live music and that was only the beginning…
It ended up being the most epic birthday party extravaganza one could ever imagine… I LOVE birthdays and was all about it. Party hats, piñatas and R18 party favours (mini bottles of Fireball and condoms scattered all over the tables) and we were served the most delightfully delicious three-course meal with drinks flowing all night long. The performances were some of my favourites from the festival (Daredevil Chicken turned it up a notch, Sven Ratzke danced on the tables as promised and our host, Émile Mathieu high-kicked, rode his unicycle and did the splits all night long. I hijacked the Bread & Circus Instagram to do a stories takeover. You can find them here.
Who doesn’t love a good high kick? Émile Mathieu was a phenomenal host.
The piñata, party games and favours were a nice touch.
Pretty sure I’m staring at Sven in awe here…
Photos by Charlie Rose Creative
Well, that wraps up what I’ve experienced so far. Here are my recommendations (based on intense research, reading and googling) on what to see for the final two weeks:
What Do I Need To See?
Palaver Grand with Shay Horay: With a star-studded cast of performers, plus one of my favourite bands, Lawrence Arabia, this is all I want to do for Valentine’s Day this year.
OTT Show: This was one of my favourite shows last year. I fell head over heels for Le Gateau Chocolat (a Nigerian drag queen with the voice of an angel). Nick and I are heading up to the bach for Waitangi Weekend, so we’ll miss the OTT show this year. Seriously, go if you can!
Pax Assadi – Raised by Refugees: You only have two . more chances to see Pax Assadi, comedian (he’s part of Frickin Dangerous Bro) and masterful storyteller. If like comedy that’s also deep and thought-provoking, Pax is your guy.
Buskers Brewery Tour: Okay, so this has already sold-out, but it’s worth mentioning in case you miraculously manage to score a ticket. Starting and finishing at The Spiegeltent, guests will travel by double decker bus to the region’s favourite breweries for tasting paddles, delicious lunch, and quality busking entertainment. Shay Horay is the host and official party starter.
Photo by Malia Rose Photographer
Thanks for reading, I hope you make the most of this fabulous time in our lovely city!
This post isn’t sponsored and opinions are entirely my own.