MAMIYA 7: A Comedy Journey to LA and Beyond



The dark room is intimately small, emphasised by the fact I’ve been asked to fill a seat in the front row, right in front of the mic stand. It lights up with a cheer for the entering comedian. He takes a seat on the stool placed on the small stage, and lifts a keyboard to his knee. A voice—so strong it is almost unexpected for a comedy show—fills the room, and the show begins with a song about the moonlight: the beauty of sharing it with someone you love, and the fear of it being the only light guiding you away from a man trying to piss on you.

Coming from Nelson, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Paul Williams has been on the comedy circuit for some time now, making his start in student theatre and now hosting comedy sets, writing music, and being the glamorous assistant in Taskmaster NZ. He first came to Melbourne performing a small part in Rose Matefeo’s show Finally Dead in 2016, and has since returned with shows of his own. His new show, Mamiya 7, is being performed in Melbourne as part of the International Comedy Festival and packs a punch from the start. It chronicles Williams’ experience buying a secondhand camera and finding the previous owner’s roll of film left in there. He is accompanied by a projector screen, put well to use by projecting these found images for the audience, as well as some gorgeous little graphics and some…interesting montages.

Throughout the leading narrative of his quest to connect with the owner of these photographs, Paul effortlessly weaves in tangents about his experiences as Jay Z’s supposed-failed light and sound technician, Kinder Surprises, and his old schoolmate—reality star Harry Jowsey. Williams’ style of comedy—analytical, somewhat dry—lends itself to making these tangents seem organic, but they were accompanied by audio clips and visuals that were timed so well they almost seemed to come from above. I was surprised to find that this digital assistance didn't detract from the show, as it can often feel clunky or ill-placed in a set. But Paul Williams has nailed it in Mamiya 7.

There was a nice amount of audience interaction, with Williams asking questions about our love for Christmas (not strongly expressed) and our love for reading (strongly expressed by one woman in particular). As the occupant of the aforementioned front-row seat, I ended up being quite the subject of interrogation. I was asked about my favourite sport, my favourite movie, and favourite Christmas character, which ended in me saying “Mary’s Boy Child” after mistaking the question for one about Christmas songs. After being laughed at both by the room and Williams himself, I was reassured by the ease of which this was rolled into a new joke, and referenced again later; this is another clear talent demonstrated by the comedian within the show. Low laughs often garnered a chuckle from Williams, and were quickly added into his commentary running alongside the show.

I had the opportunity to speak to Williams about the process of writing this show.

ME: This show is obviously about your experience with your camera—the Mamiya 7—and your magical roll of film. What’s your process of developing a full set from a moment or an experience like that?

PAUL: It's not that exciting, I guess. For this one, I was in London and I would just bike to the library most days and then sit there and then think about it. But I think, like most comedians, you're kind of thinking about it all the time, and then you're constantly making notes on your phone, or little voice memos or whatever to make sure, when you have an idea that you don't forget it. I think, yeah, you've always got to write stuff down straight away or you know, an hour later, you'll be like, “What was that?”

ME: Yeah, I bet. Obviously within the set, you've got very set moments with the slideshow and props. How do you figure out where you've got room to improvise within it? Do you have a specific script that you're following or is it more just knowing what themes you're moving through?

PAUL: Yeah. I mean, it's pretty loose still because I’ve only done it a few times. I think I can kind of go off at any time. With the slideshow, I always like having a slideshow just because—I mean, it's pretty crucial for this one because this one’s got the photos, but even in the past, I've liked it because it's literally like the structure of the show is physically there. I think you can always just go off on an improvised tangent. But it's nice that also sometimes if you do forget what’s going on, you can just hit next on the slide and you're like, “Oh, yeah, that's it”.

ME: What would you say you enjoy most about doing comedy? I know that’s a very broad question.

PAUL: Ah, I mean, so much. I mean firstly, you know, the travel element. Going to Edinburgh—I love that place. It's like a working holiday. I mean, I wouldn't even call it that. It's like a really fun trip. But then, I mean, just the rush you get from doing comedy is so good. There's nothing really like it and I feel like it's something that you don't really get over. The other day I did a set at the Festival Club and it went really well. You’re just buzzing afterwards. I could barely get to sleep because of the adrenaline. It's such a rush and it's cool that, you know, even after years of doing it, you still kind of get that rush. Hanging out with your friends as well. Most of my best friends are comedians and are here [in Melbourne]. I've loved just meeting comedians over the years and [finding] like-minded people. During the day where you go and you have meals or you play football in the park or whatever, and it's just, yeah, fun.



As stated in the featured review on the poster, this show was indeed an “hour long”, and what a funny hour it was. I waltzed out of the Backstage Room of Melbourne Town Hall with a spring in my step, looking forward to my next chance to see a show by Paul Williams.

For more about Paul’s experience making Taskmaster NZ, and his very specific opinions on ice cream flavours, you can check out the full interview here

Farrago's magazine cover - Edition One 2024


It’s 2012 and you have just opened Tumblr. A photo pops up of MGMT in skinny jeans, teashade sunglasses and mismatching blazers that are reminiscent of carpets and ‘60s curtains. Alexa Chung and Alex Turner have just broken up. His love letter has been leaked and Tumblr is raving about it—”my mouth hasn’t shut up about you since you kissed it.” Poetry at its peak: romance is alive.

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