Ben Hurley – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Ben Hurley has won armfuls of comedy awards in his native New Zealand – but then it is a very small country.

He’s got a likeable, relaxed manner and gives off all the right signals to reassure audiences that they’re in safe hands. But ‘safe’ applies to his material, too, which stays so securely in the comfort zone that little he says will stick in the memory.

That he starts by explaining how annoyed he is at being mistaken for an Australian – as if we care – is a measure of the conversational level of the set, so chatty that gags are almost secondary as he runs through one familiar topic after the next, ticking every common topic.

Take Steve Irwin’s death, which he jokes about months after the event, saying that the crocodiles must be pissed off that it was a stingray that finally got him. Surely that was barely funny when it was topical, let alone now. That Hurley’s still telling it is an indication of how low he’s content to set his quality threshold.

He does show flashes that suggest he’s capable of more. He’s got a nice take on well-wishing texts sent to Londoners on 7/7; and he manages to find a slightly different angle on the usual shtick about George Bush’s idiocy.

But no matter how enjoyable his company is, at heart Hurley’s a vanilla comedian, none too different from countless others on the circuit. Perhaps that’s why he’s employed mainly as a compere, where material’s secondary to personality, and he’ll be in no danger of overshadowing the other acts.

Review date: 23 Nov 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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