Review: Joseph Moore, Young Comedy Billionaire

Joseph Moore's Comedy Festival set is clever, ambitious, thematically unified, and consistently, immensely funny.


Joseph Moore has a wonderful face for comedy. I don’t mean by this that he’s some sort of rubberfaced gurner, but he can often look morose and lugubrious beyond his years, telling the stories of a 25-year-old with a hint of Louis CK’s world of worry behind them. His odd stoicism – look at those posters, scowling in front of the flag! – is key to Young Comedy Billionaire, an exceptional comedy set with a unity of theme and purpose you don’t often get in stand-up.

Hadley Donaldson’s No Limit-derived poster artwork should have indicated that the show would be built around Moore’s oft-broadcast love of hip-hop, but it doesn’t prepare you for how well this is handled. From start to finish, he intersperses the straight performance with portentous intros, triumphant outros, skits that pad out the time – ominous MIDI piano beats as he gives himself self-help monologues about being the greatest “NZ famous” comedian ever.

In the midst of recalling primary school sports with horrible alacrity, he observes that certificates and the right kind of big stick were the signs of wealth and success. Cue an amazing chopped n’screwed breakdown with a “Certificates n’ Sticks” refrain, a rap he can barely get out for laughing (he forgot the notes). Then there’s an Autotune moment at the end that’s technically ambitious, flirts with disaster, and has to be heard to be believed.

NZ stand-up’s history of playing with rap motifs is not distinguished (P-Funk Chainsaw). Where YCB succeeds is through Moore’s obvious love of the fun of self-mythologising and rags-to-riches redemption of rap, making it a fitting tie-in to a series of anecdotes elevated far beyond their mundane origins. Learning what car insurance is having smashed into a Holden Commodore first; cheating at cross-country; being accused of cyberbullying Six60; getting into Prince Caspian with the prestige role of “Bully #1” only to have all of his lines cut (gallingly, IMDB only describes him as “Boy #1” and he should do something about this). The interludes have his inner voice urging him to tell us a cool story: every time, he fails spectacularly. The emphasis being on ‘spectacularly’.

Though I’m loathe to give too much away, his use of the laptop is always clever and never too distracting. A dissertation on Forbes’ annual list of the five richest fictional characters turns into a slide-by-slide psychological horror where Moore can’t save the richest dog in the world (named “Todd Emerson” this evening, though audience participation will leave this up to you) from ruin. He avenges his excision from Prince Caspian with his own crude director’s cut, and it turns out to be building to the most incredible callback to an earlier joke, and the biggest laugh of the night. Even the one technical fuckup ended up actually being expertly timed, adding to the show’s strengths rather than undercutting them.

The last story is almost the most pitiful – Moore’s attempt to live like a baller in Berlin, expectations vs reality. It’s also the best, a cracking denouement that virtually ties the show up in a bow. Weak become heroes in Young Comedy Billionaire – it’s the best thing you could go see this week, an exceptional stand-up set that builds off his dream of being “NZ famous” and ends up world-class.

Joseph Moore - Young Comedy Billionaire
The Basement Studio, 6-10 May, 7.15pm
Tickets available through Ticketek

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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