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Ivan Aristeguieta: Juithy

at Pleasance Courtyard

* * * * -

Excellent debut hour about the immigrant experience.

Image of Ivan Aristeguieta: Juithy

Listeners of Stuart Goldsmith’s Comedians’ Comedian podcast may be familiar with Ivan Aristeguieta from one of Goldsmith’ customary forensic interviews, during which the Venezuelan standup revealed he taught himself English through comedy shows after emigrating to Australia.  Adapting the comedy skills he learned in his homeland to his new environment he became a fastidious student of the form in the process.

It was more than enough to pique the interest, and Aristeguieta’s first show on these shores fully demonstrates this dedication to his craft. This is no dry technical exercise however, as he brings the same relish to his standup as, he tells us, he does to eating a mango (face first, don’t be afraid to get sticky).  Juithy is a fast-paced, unashamedly joyous hour of comedy delivered by a man of supernova likability.

As you would expect, Juithy focuses heavily on the immigrant experience, with emphasis on the gains and losses undergone in their new countries.  While they may have fled violence and tyranny, it comes at the expense of part of their identities being chipped away; or for a more prosaic illustration, “In Venezuela you can pluck a mango off a tree.  In Australia, $3 for one!”

As this central idea runs right the way through the show there is the occasional sense of repetition, with several skits mere variations on this thematic lodestone.  There isn’t any real deviation from the show’s structure, but like an excellent blues musician Aristeguieta is able to find infinite variations on a familiar idea.  His observations on the differences between his old home and his new feel fresh, such as playing with the concept of Fair Trade cocaine, or the sheer first-world privilege that allows hipsterism in coffee consumption; beautiful little illustrations that resonate forcefully.

This constant pull between gain and loss builds to a personal revelation of real poignancy.  Here, Aristeguieta pauses the quick-fire rhythm and bounce that has characterised the show so far, and you realise just how well Juithy is written.  This moment of reflection is thoroughly earned, and he uses it to give us who have never had to be uprooted from our homes a point of empathy, comparing citizenship to relationships.  Both are rooted in the gut, and felt elementally.  It’s not long however, before he bounces back with a sunny ending that comes full circle.

Juithy is an excellent hour of standup on a hugely relevant subject given the current world situation.  This point is never laboured though, and you leave beaming, with a spring in your step.  If the name Ivan Aristeguieta is unfamiliar to you, it won’t be for long.