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Posted by Philip Patston on 30 November 2009, 4:19 pm in , , , ,

Ex-comedian takes poetry to Northland

What do you call a comedian who doesn’t want to have to be funny anymore? A poet on a mission.

Gay, disabled comedian, social entrepreneur – and now poet – Philip Patston will perform his unique brand of poetry to Whangarei to celebrate the United Nations International Day of Disabled Persons on 3 December.

The two performances by Philip Patston mark the end of a unique exhibition at the Whangarei Arts Museum called Access Art, an exhibition comprising of:

  • Sweet As A ‘popping’ - sweet smelling and multi-sensory installation of luscious confectionary colours and an accompanying collections-based exhibition designed for sight-affected and disabled art enthusiasts,
  • More than Looking - An installation by Glenn Heenan – New Zealand’s first photographic and poetry exhibition created for both a blind and visually impaired audience.

“Tiaho Trust is very proud to introduce the performance by New Zealand’s most prominent disabled entertainer to Whangarei” says Jonny Wilkinson CEO Tiaho Trust.

But don’t expect a dull poetry recital. Armed with an Apple laptop Patston reads to funky bass rhythms and piano melodies and is accompanied by Tony Lewis on harmonica.

“I wrote a lot of these poems nearly 20 years ago,” says Patston, “and it’s great to finally give them a voice. It’s interesting that they are still relevant and reflect the core ideas of my work today.”

Patston decided to give up the comedy mantle in June this year, after staging a show in the New Zealand International Comedy Festival. “After nearly 15 years of struggling to find my place in the comedy industry, I should stop,” he wrote in a blog post. “Conceiving, writing, directing, producing, marketing and then performing a solo one-hour show nine times over a three-week period feels like torture at times.”

“This is not to say that I don’t think I have a great sense of humour and can be funny,” he continues, “this is not some shrouded cry for affirmation. But comedy is not about having a great sense of humour ... comedy is about talking enough shit to get a decent laugh per minute ratio so as to appease your audience’s expectations. I don’t wanna talk shit to make people laugh anymore.”

Patston is now focusing on projects, workshops, social networks and speaking engagements as a social entrepreneur, having finished a three-year stint as an inaugural NZ Social Entrepreneur Fellow, an initiative of businessman and philanthropist Stephen Tindall.

And of course poetry. “Everyone needs a creative outlet,” he says, “but not the same one for a lifetime.”

Patston will perform on 3 December at the Whangarei Central Library at 12.30pm and the Whangarei Art Museum at 5.30pm

For more information see www.philippatston.com and www.tiaho.org.nz