TE Radar is known for his global roaming — in fact, the day The Guide caught up with him he was not long back from a trip to the Americas, where guinea pigs litter the floors of Peruvian kitchens and a Marxist philosopher makes methane out of pig poo at his hideaway in the Cuban jungle.
But the comedian/opinionist is also a big believer in community, which is why he is taking his award-winning history-based show, Eating The Dog, on a jaunt to venues off the beaten track.
The nine-date tour he managed to squeeze in between television filming commitments takes in venues from Ohinewai to Hikuwai, Katikati to Opotiki. It also includes a stop-off at Gisborne’s own Ormond Community Hall, the show being a fundraiser to help hall advocates build a new deck.
Te Radar (that’s Andrew Lumsden to his mum) couldn’t be more chuffed.
“Whenever I drive around the country I always keep an eye out for these amazing little halls in amazing little places, so it’s nice to take a history show about New Zealand to halls that have lots of history themselves,” he says.
Once those halls go, he adds, there is a big void left in the community that may never be filled.
“And though I’ve got a list of requests for fundraisers that could keep me going forever I don’t often get time to do them so this is going to be great. The organisers get to make a bit of money, I (hopefully) get paid and they really seem to bring people together.”
Radar has to be one of the coolest Kiwis on the small screen but, it has to be said, he is also a bit of a geek.
The show he is bringing to Gisborne may have won accolades aplenty since it was named Best Show at the 2009 Comedy Guild Awards, but at its core is a curious Kiwi with a passion for ferreting out some of history’s lesser-known quirks.
Like the one (after which the show is named) about 19th-century surveyor Thomas Brunner who, while exploring the West Coast of the South Island, became so famished he was driven to eating his dog.
Or the one about balloonist David Mahoney (alias Captain Charles Lorraine) who, travelling around the world in his hot air balloon, would upon alighting do gymnastic exercises to loosen his limbs.
These sorts of stories, says Te Radar, are treasures worth digging for, and he has compiled an entire comedic show — complete with maps and slides — to help witnesses see their true shining glory.
The concept of doing the Eat The Dog in small local halls often throws up its own element of farce.
Like the hall where the power blew mid-show because some helpful local had turned on the pie-warmer.
Or the one in a snowy South Island location where another helper had to scurry across the stage every 20 minutes to feed the electricity meter lest the heating go off.
“Every single hall has its little foibles but, to be honest, I don’t really get to know them that well,” he says. “I just rock up in the car, unpack my gear, do the show, pack it all up again and off I go.”
All in all, it’s an opportunity for a performer to reconnect with his own history after spending much of his time overseas.
In addition to his journey to the Americas, Te Radar recently spent time on various islands for the Radar Across The Pacific series which is currently screening in TV One (Tuesdays).
He has been further afield to get footage for a film he is making about the election cycles in small-town US, and he’s still working on material developed during a month spent in Antarctica.
“One of the best things for me is that now that I am getting better at saying no to things, I am able to say yes to things that really interest me, like travel and history,” he says.
“I never forget how lucky I am in that my work means I am always meeting people who have solutions.
“I spend a lot of time surrounded by people who are actually doing things and that’s a nice little bubble to be in.”