Degenerative Fill - Regional News | Connecting Wellington
 Issue 216

 Issue 216

Degenerative Fill by Alessia Belsito-Riera

When Wellington comedian Steve Wrigley departed for the New York countryside with his “heavily preggo wife” in 2018, he didn’t expect more than five years to pass before he would enjoy a Fidel’s brekkie again… you know, because COVID. Pandemic notwithstanding, Wrigley kept himself busy, becoming a regular fix on the New England comedy scene, touring alongside Rhys Darby, and releasing his debut album. The comedian also unearthed a new passion: Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), where he discovered a vibrant tapestry of storytelling and imagination that rivalled the thrill of live comedy. Armed to the teeth with a fresh arsenal of jokes spanning the pandemic, politics, and possibly (definitely) D&D, the former 7 Days star returns to Wellington with Degenerative Fill at Te Auaha from the 4th to the 6th of April.

Did you experience culture shock moving to the USA?

America is special to me. I feel like I was sold a bill of goods in a lot of ways, but I love it. I think my exposure to America via TV and film formed a very specific idea of what it was like. I knew it wasn’t going to look like Full House... but I really don’t think I was prepared for the American Dream to be as much smoke and mirrors as it was. The longer I’ve been here the more that culture shock has worn off. I understand Americans now in a way I never would have if I hadn’t lived here for over a decade. I love them and I love being among them.

What is the US comedy scene like?

Three words – two drink minimum. In New Zealand the show is the thing, we aren’t typically trying to sell fried food at a markup and squeeze every last drop of cash out of the crowd. That’s part of what you have to train for if you are going to be a club comic here. But because of that, you can’t take the stage time you get for granted like I think you can at times in NZ.

Are there similarities between D&D and stand-up?

Many! It’s all about ‘prepare and care’ as a game master, and then role playing a version of yourself you wish existed when you sit at the table as a player. As a comic you do both. You have to prepare for the session, have a plan where you want things to go and how you want them to play out, but be prepared for the plan to get derailed and have to think on your feet. The Steve Wrigley that exists on stage is as real as the Tiefling cleric I run when I play D&D. They are both figments of my imagination that I can inhabit and puppet.

What are you most excited for when you’re back in Welly?

Walking everywhere and getting coffee with people I love. I cannot wait to reconnect with the family of friends I made over a lifetime in the Wellington arts community. We have so much to catch up on... and lots of cafés to catch up in!

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