Review: Nina Oyama Needs a Lift

2 years ago
Aidan Johnson

Nina Oyama Needs a Lift is a fun, nervous, energetic performance that can act as a good tonic to shows that are too tight and structured. With plenty of great one liners and longer arching jokes, the show is good fun, although it was a bit under rehearsed and there were a few mix ups as a result. Nevertheless, it was a good show.

Before getting started, the show was funny – an ideal thing in a comedy show. Although the majority of the jokes were related to certain themes, they managed to have the audience laughing almost the entire way through. The jokes were clearly planned, but the lines seemed to have an undelivered quality which made them quite fun and engaging.

The show had a nervous energy about it – which had a certain charm, and certainly elicited many laughs from the audience, but potentially caused more problems than it solved. Whether it was nerves or the medicine Oyama had taken prior to the show, she did mix up lines and words on occasion. Fortunately she worked this to her advantage – the nervous energy that led her into the mix ups managed to guide her back out again.

Actually, it was reminiscent of that woman at a bar – the one who has all these fantastic stories and is full of energy, but also is very shy, and in her nervousness she talks rapidly and blunders into topics accidentally. Whilst not a rambling performance – there was a direction and it didn’t drag – it had that quality, so the lines felt quite real. This was especially the case when she went off script or broke the fourth wall and made commentary on the show itself.

On the topic of going off script, and having raw energy, the show seemed slightly under rehearsed. There were several missed cues from the tech person, or lines missed by Oyama and then working around those. These moments were handled within the context of the show – smashing the fourth wall and commenting on the show which added to the humour. However, those moments were still there, and they were jarring at times.

Overall, lots of good jokes, and some decent saves, although it could be tighter. The audience was laughing for the entire show, and reacted accordingly relative to the jokes and stories being told. Oyama’s performance nice show to round an evening of comedy off – a raw honesty that is sometimes lacking in more polished shows.


Nina Oyama Needs a Lift is on at 9:45pm at the Forum until 21 April as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets are available via the comedy festival website or the venue box office.

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