I remember watching Tofiga Fepulea'I in his first ever stand-up comedy show in Wellington called "Laughing with Samoans" back in 2003, alongside other Pacific comedians Eteuati Ete and James Nokise. I had that nostalgic feeling to once again witness the greatness of this performer. He has come a long way in the 14 years and it is apparent the skills and level of storytelling he has gained as a professional experienced performer. Originally one part of the Pacific comedic sensations The Laughing Samoans, Tofiga comes to Melbourne with his first ever solo show, I Gan't Belive It.
At the Drum Theatre in Dandenong, the 500 seat theatre was packed out with patrons of all ages who had come to witness the funny big guy. I was familiar with the multiple characters that Tofiga once played as part of the comedy duo TLS, characters we have come to love and adore, such as the much loved Aunty Tala, and the wise Uncle Sam to name a few. There are characters which every Pacific Island family recognises as people within their own families.
However, this show is very different from what we're used to. Tofiga enters the stage dressed in a black tall tee, ¾ shorts and sneakers. An image very different from the colourful characters we're used to seeing. On the stage is a mic on a stand, a stool carrying a face towel and a bottle of water. The stage looks plain, but once Tofiga starts, he brings the house down with his jokes and mannerisms that are uniquely his. Tofiga has an amazing stage presence and with the lifting of an eyelid to the tiniest flick of his finger, had the audience in fits of laughter.
This comedy genius rocks the house with material that are specifically Samoan, but if you ask me is translatable to other cultures who deal with issues of family, love and body functions. (You have to see him perform this live to have the full experience) These honest musings that he shares with the audience is where his success lies. Each tale he tells is so detailed that at times it feels that we may possibly know the same people, or that he somehow knows the story of my life.
This familiarity is what gets the audience, and that even once the laughter subsided there was, at times, still a child who was left laughing which was acknowledged by Tofiga and once again set the whole audience in an uproar of laughter. I won't give away the contents of the show, however, if you get the chance to see this amazing standup comedian, then let me tell you, GO! You won't want to miss out this fantastic show. Tofiga's show is honest, heartfelt with lots of LOL to boot!