Written and performed by Ocean Denham
The Fringe Bar, 18th Feb 2022
Reviewed by: Sam Hollis
Part stand-up, part musical odyssey, comedian Ocean Denham fought a tough opening-night crowd for her New Zealand Fringe Festival show No! I’m Not Australian! to score well-earned laughs. After settling in, our audience comes to appreciate her candid and open approach to storytelling, not to mention her stellar singing voice, the combination of which make her stand out as a unique talent.
Over the course of an hour, Denham reminisces on her weird, wild, and occasionally gross OE. Her trip to the UK was full of hilarious stitch-ups and stories too bizarre to make up. We all know what it’s like to be a fish out of water, and in No! I’m Not Australian!, Denham mines that feeling for comedy gold.
Billing this show as a cabaret is somewhat misleading, as Denham’s strongest asset is her natural talent for stand-up. She knows how to pull an audience into a bit and make it relatable, even if she’s sharing experiences that we can only pray we never have to endure first-hand. What would you do if you showed up to a fancy-pants dinner party only to discover it was a drug-fuelled madhouse? Or how about if your IBS flared up moments before you were to meet your new flatmates in a foreign country? She makes every story feel visceral and presents them in the most high-octane way possible, wringing out laughs all the way.
While her material may have been too honest for some in the crowd, a slow start turns into a big finish as the audience becomes accustomed to the fact that this is a performer expressing herself unapologetically. The same goes for her songs. Lyrically, they’re just as graphic as her bits, but when delivered via Denham’s powerhouse vocal chops, the contradiction makes many of them the highlights of the hour.
Some minor technical difficulties on the part of The Fringe Bar are the only thing that halt an otherwise flowing performance on Friday night. Delivered with confidence and gusto, Denham is clearly a comedic talent to keep your eye on.