Darren Bevan - TVNZ'...and a great launch to the start of the NZ International Comedy Festival. Quite simply, get among it and get a giggle.'open/close
21 years, eh?
Most people's 21st parties were drunken messes, awash in beer and regret.
Yet, the launch of the 21st annual New Zealand International Comedy Festival was a slightly classier affair at Auckland's mighty Civic Theatre (though I don't doubt the after party was any the less messy)
It was also one of the most jam packed galas I've ever attended with some 21 comedians on the bill, with the ever amiable hosting skills of MC Jeremy Corbett. Sure, it was compared to a speed date by the host himself and for the comedians, there's nothing worse than proffering up 5 minutes of stand up as a tantalising tease into their shows before heading off the stage.
It was very much a gala of two halves, with, I have to confess the international acts having the slightly upper hand. Though local acts like Ben Hurley, Dai Henwood and Urzila Carlson rocked on stage to raucous cheers from the assembled crowd as they trotted out some new and fresh material.
Last year's Billy T winner Guy Williams showed that a year hasn't dampened his comic prowess, and gave rise to the fact that this young comic is still clearly in the ascendance thanks to some sharply observed send offs and one word off the cuff remarks. Jeremy Elwood also demonstrated, once again that comedy doesn't have to be dumbed down, throwing out some topically sharp observations as part of his criminally short set time. Likewise, James Nokise, looking like a cross between a young Billy T and one of the Ratpack, really showed like he'd grown up comically since the last time I saw him at the festival. In fact, pretty much all of the locals shone. And it was great to see Ewen Gilmour's on form as well, making the Westie one to watch.
Even the Boy With Tape on His Face, who's back after performing at the Royal Albert Hall, showed he's not resting on his laurels. Granted, he did a mini skit that I've seen him do numerous times before, but thanks to some subtle changes, showed that tinkering helps and that comedy is an artform to be perfected time and time again.
Perhaps, though, the night belonged to the International line up. Maybe it's the prevalence of the NZ comics on the local scene and the likes of 7 Days that they feel so familiar (no matter how fresh and new the material is) but several of the foreign talent offered up new and exciting tidbits of comedy gold.
Stephen K Amos felt energetic and urgent in his short set; equally Idiot Of Ants (last year's winner of best international show) demonstrated why the quartet of sketch comedy is still going strong; the likes of James Acaster, Chris Martin, Markus Birdman, and Tom Gleeson I'd seen the night before at the 5 Star Comedy Preview, so it's fair to say their acts and material weren't quite as fresh as you'd expect, but they were nonetheless funny for it, holding audiences in their thrall in their alloted slot. The show was closed by Chopper who had the best exit ever, and showed there's still plenty of comic mileage in that thug yet.
The revelation of the night was undoubtedly Tom Green though - his surreal, angry ranting belied a universal humour which caught you slap bang between the eyes. There's just something transfixing about his intense attitude to comedy that will make his show a real must see for comedy connoisseurs.
The only complaint of the night, if I'm honest, is that there weren't enough female comics in the line up. Goodness knows there are a fair few playing the festival, so it's a real shame there wasn't the split on the stage.
But as 21st birthday parties go, this was a pretty spectacular one - and a great launch to the start of the NZ International Comedy Festival. Quite simply, get among it and get a giggle.
And we’re off! The New Zealand International Comedy Festival officially launched on Friday night with the inaugural comedy gala.
This year marks the Comedy Festival’s 21st year and I couldn’t think of a better venue to commemorate this milestone than at the majestic Civic Theatre. Hosted by comedy veteran and 7 Days host Jeremy Corbett, the gala was a laughs aplenty marathon featuring a stellar lineup of 21 local and international comedians.
With just four minutes to impress us and form a lasting impression, Corbett likens the night to speed dating which is a great way to describe it! For the comedy-uninitiated, the gala provides the perfect tasting plate for what is on offer during the festival for the next three weeks.
From gripes about how we rely on smartphones for everything to taboo toilet humor to a skit about a hen’s night gone wrong, there was plenty to laugh about! A stand out for me was Chris Martin who I thought did a brilliant set – I will never look at pugs the same way again! Newcomer James Acaster had the crowd sold from the word “apricots”; I thought his low energy set was an unexpected but welcome change of pace – I really enjoyed his unassuming yet incredibly witty style of comedy.
The locals were natural crowd favorites using good ol’ colloquial Kiwi humor to tickle our funny bone. And of course no gala will be the same without New Zealand’s claim to fame in the comedic world, the wonderful The Boy with Tape on his Face! He did one of my personal favorite bits from More Tape and I was delighted to see that there have been a couple of tweaks since last year’s season.
I would also like to take this opportunity to plug the TV3 People’s Choice Award. This award coincides with a very cool competition with an über awesome prize – all you have to do is vote for your favorite local comedian – and you and a friend and the comedian you voted for could be headed to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival!
It’s going to be a busy and laugh-filled next few weeks and I’m looking forward to every minute of it! For dates, tickets and all things NZICF, head on over to www.comedyfestival.co.nz
Go on, New Zealand. It’s time to Laugh Yourself Silly!
The 2013 NZ Comedy Festival team have produced another slick, well-oiled, world-class Comedy Gala to be proud of.
MC Jeremy Corbett tells us we've come of age, as we settle into the NZ International Comedy Festival's 21st Gala-birthday bash at the beautiful Civic Theatre.
As a comedian, Jeremy is totally accessible, with a winning mix of self-deprecation, wit, seasoned delivery and addictive narrative. Highlights include his sublime ‘Internal-Gangs-of-Drunkenness' routine, followed by his manly ‘rewards' system. Corby also delivers the best ‘Kiwi-bloke-just-give-it-a-go-mate-racing-commentary-rant' of the night.
As our guide he is generous in equal measure to all his fellow performers. Using speed dating as an analogy for the gala's intention (as the audience susses out which of the 20 acts we want to see again over the festival), Jeremy sets up each act with enthusiastic, warm introductions. By comparison with some international artists who have been given the role in the past – stumbling over pronunciations, show-order, and seemingly under-prepared (perhaps being more concerned about their own routines, than the MC-ing role) – Jeremy cements himself as a world-class host.
This year's set design gives us plenty to think about, as the start is delayed (due to unavoidable Auckland traffic congestion, the worst our city has seen since Wednesday night). Be it inspired by Japanese lanterns, The Southern Alps, chopsticks and baking paper or a Maori fortress, they're all fitting images for the mountain of comedy and variety about to unfold.
Content wise, farts, poos and penises, are still alive and well, and getting the desired reaction, either as the comedy that some audiences love to hate or, for others, the comedy they just can't get enough of. In particular, the only American comedian of the night, Arj Barker, boldly goes where no comedian has gone before, to make his shit work a comedy treat.
Given that many of our household-name NZ comedians are now in their 30s and married with kids, it's heartening to hear comedy-gold from their new POV. Ben Hurley and Dai Henwood in particular, put a fantastic twist on living the (new) dream. However, the biggest crowd reactions of the night come from material that is above the belt, contemporary and delivered with a fresh perspective.
Standouts include NZ's Sam Wills' The Boy With Tape On His Face: an act that continues to evolve and thrill audiences using good ole simple story-telling through mime, expression, well-chosen musical-underlay and audience participation, all knitted together to create a fail-safe routine. Once again, The Boy conquers the night with his unique self-defining genius.
Astute NZ comedians Jeremy Elwood and Guy Williams deliver two of the best punch lines of the night. Jeremy E opens with his usual blisteringly funny twist on the politics of the day (arguments against gay marriage) then throws in Jesus, marriage and Hobbits to complete a fine routine. Guy Williams' fresh and frank viewpoints as a young white man from Nelson are undeniably funny, as he continues to unashamedly bash his way through the Kiwi comedy ranks.
Fellow kiwis Ben Hurley, Ewen Gilmour, TJ McDonald, Jared Christmas and James Nokise, all perform solid, entertaining routines and are warmly received, as are local favourites, Dai Henwood and Urzila Carlson. Urzila milks her status as our newest NZ-er and then merges into a fine routine about road-rage and our driving habits. Jared Christmas delivers a great punch line at the end of his aggressive routine, though it feels like a long time to be yelled at before you get there.
UK comedy is well represented. The young and charmingly silly comedy group Idiots Of Ants, plus hot young star Chris Martin, both entertain with material that is brave, contemporary and fresh. Chris' take on dogs and their owners, is fantastic. Well-known British stand-up Stephen K Amos shares entertaining stories about extreme sports and Australians with ease, while Markus Birdman does the same with his take on love.
In the ‘odd, slightly weird, yet memorable category' are UK comedian James Acaster, Steve Hughes from Australia and Tom Green from Canada. James takes fruit to new comedy heights with his gently simmering yet entertaining routine, with sensible, well reasoned punch lines. Steve Hughes is uncomfortable with the time restraints of the Gala, and tells us so. While he comes across as slightly smug as a result, he warms up to a fine routine about his love for Asians, which I have no doubt will provide a great night of comedy in the context of his full show.
I'd say the same of Tom Green. The unsuspecting front row are wide-eyed and slightly terrified (but in a good way) as he delivers his comedy assault about growing up on a Canadian Army Base, then dealing with white-out (twink) and a compass at school. Off the wall and clever.
Top Australian comedians, familiar to Kiwi audiences through TV3's 7Days, Tom Gleeson and the ever-popular Chopper, bookend the night with hilarious routines – completely different in style, yet equally punchy. Tom opens the night with a hilarious download on iPhone 5, iCloud and other Apple iHype – iLike.
Chopper, as the closing act, rips up the night with a fantastic bombastic angry rant about small matters that are troubling him – including sandwiches made by goldfish – before winning top honours for best dramatic exit at a comedy Gala, ever.
Happy 21st guys. Let the party begin.
We have lift off. The 21st NZ International Comedy Festival officially launched last night with 21 comedians at the annual Comedy Gala.
Auckland’s Civic Theatre was packed out and ready to laugh its self silly. The master of ceremonies Jeremy Corbett kept the pace of the night going throughout. His routines covered marriage and parenthood while also giving us all a great insight into the mechanics of a drunk body.
This is a marathon of a comedy show with each comedian getting only four minutes to strut their stuff.
This is our chance to see what’s on offer. A comedy ‘speed date’ as Jeremy called it. But unlike speed dating there was more than just one funny guy.
Homegrown favourites like Dai Henwood, Guy Williams, Urzila Carlson, Jeremy Elwood, Ewen Gilmour and Ben Hurley were suitably supported by the audience. These Kiwi comics know their audience and the audience loves them! Boy With Tape On His Face won the crowds affections yet again following his huge success on London’s West End.
Highlights from the internationals included; Jarred Christmas, Stephen K Amos, Steve Hughes, Idiots of Ants and Chris Martin. It was a pleasure to finally see Tom Green on stage who performed four minutes of genius comedy. The brilliant Arj Barker stole the show at the end of the first half. Who said toilet humour was dead!
Some new faces for us were the wonderful James Acaster from the UK and Kiwi James Nokise who really left us wanting more. Heath Franklin’s Chopper probably did the best exit of a comedy set that I’ve ever seen!
All the performers were excellent and you can see for yourself at 8.35pm on TV3 Sunday 28 April.
On Friday evening at approximately ten past seven pm it pinged to mind that I should probably check my blog email address. I typed in my username, tapped in the password, waited a few moments for the internet to cooperate and then ping. A new email. From Ticketek. Congratulating me for being chosen as a Comedy Fest Blogger. With the opening gala starting at 8pm that evening. PANIC. EXCITEMENT. PANIC. OOPS!!!
See I hadn’t really expected to be chosen. When Ticketek and the NZ International Comedy Festival asked for bloggers/ writers to submit to become a V.I.P. Festival Blogger they specifically asked for funny people. Am I funny? Maybe? Probably not. I don’t think so. But I do appreciate funny people and I definitely enjoy live shows, so I thought here goes! And boom, success.
So back to Friday night – with only fifty minutes to get down to the theatre I naturally spent about 20 of them running around the house like an absolute headless chicken. What do I wear, what do I need to take, oh crap, I’ve snapped my Archie’s Girls lipstick. But by some feat of nature I managed to get myself all prettied up and down to the Civic in time for the opening Gala. Ga-la. (Say it a few times, it’s a nice word).
So how about the show? Well if you’re paying attention you’ll be able to watch it for yourself tonight at 8:30 on TV3. It’s my job to tell you why.
Hosted by Jeremy Corbett, this years Comedy Gala was the 21st which meant we got to play comedian speed dating with 21 local and international comics, 1 stage, 4 minutes each, 3 hours. The comedians got a bit of a raw deal as they were the only ones having to sell themselves and as Corbett put it – as soon as he walked out on stage all the women had already decided whether or not they wanted to sleep with him, talking was only going to turn us off. But I promise that wasn’t the case.
Faces that I particularly enjoyed and would suggest you look out for are UK comic’s Stephen K. Amos talking swimming and eye sight and The Boy With Tape On His Face – just watch and NZer’s Guy Williams on race relations and James Nokise on why camp beats gangster. But all in all the show is a good laugh, sweetened by the comedy fest pineapple lumps I’d received on entry.
Russell Baillie, NZ Herald'... A chance to see which comedians you might like to take it further with in the coming three weeks of the New Zealand International Comedy Festival.'open/close
Think of it, said MC Jeremy Corbett in his opening spiel, as speed dating: A chance to see which comedians you might like to take it further with in the coming three weeks of the New Zealand International Comedy Festival.
Well, with 21 acts at this gala opening matching the age of the Auckland festival itself - and giving Corbett a nostalgic riff about those early years being "pretty much fart noises" - that might have offered quite a field to play.
Only slight problem with Corbett's try-before-you-buy buffet offer was freshness. Nearly half the line-up were 7 Days regulars and about half of those weren't exactly stretching themselves with new material in their alloted four minute slots.
Of the ten imports, six had appeared at past festivals and/or on 7 Days.
And unless you counted all-male Brit squad Idiots of Ants' sex-change sketch - which was pointedly hilarious despite its premise's vintage - there was but one woman. That was Urzila Carlson whose Auckland traffic road rage routine reminded the angrier she gets, the funnier she is.
Among the blokes, that chromosomal imbalance seemed to lead to an inordinate amount of testicular and sperm jokes, even without the presence of forthcoming festival shows Big Balls or Puppetry of the Penis.
Corbett himself was physiologically even more wide-ranging. One of his routines about hangovers was like one of those Reader's Digest I am Joe's vital organ stories turned into an amusing tale of anatomical gang warfare. He also showed what fatherhood can do to your vocab - "pee-pee"? 'poo-poo"? - and ironic as they might be intended, those nudge-nudge wink-wink sex sound effects of his did come on a bit Benny Hill. But the ever-genial Corbett was in good form as ringmaster on a stage set which look recycled from that Narnia movie or possibly shop window display for Game of Thrones DVDs.
Previous gala host Arj Barker risked deja vu with his tried and true quips about Marley and Me (a movie which came out in 2008, back when Barker was Dave in Flight of the Conchords). But he was soon on funnier, ah, fresher ground with his personal appreciation of the upsides of diarrhoea.
Barker was the only American in the night's line-up, while the only Canadian, Tom Green lived up to his billing - as one of the festival's biggest names given his MTV/Hollywood credits - with a short sharp burst of manic goofiness which suggests those attending his two Auckland shows should brace themselves for a wild time.
But if this was an international tournament, the Brits would have won.
There was the aforementioned Idiots who might be a bit panto for some tastes but still won the most popular vote at last year's festival. Also returning was the genteel Stephen K Amos whose elegant comic timing made riotous work of his story about riding in a zorb ball and surviving with his dignity damaged.
But the night's freshest funniest routines came from Brit new boys Chris Martin, Markus Birdman, and James Acaster. While both Martin's dog-phobia and Birdman's relationship bitterness were hilarious, Acaster's whimsical wordplay, lateral-mindedness and use of fruit - apricots and apples alike - made him the who-was-that? hit of the night.
Of the local squad, as well and Corbett and Carlson, some of the 7 Days team did put in some effort. Among them Jeremy Elwood with his take on marriage, both gay and his own, dovetailing with his ponderings that Jesus showed clear signs of being a thirtysomething. A slightly different flavour of dry, wry and relevant was Guy Williams, as tall as he is sarcastic, pondering the racism, casual and semi-organised, of New Zealand's whiter regions including his hometown Nelson.
While of other local familiars, Ewen Gilmour, Ben Hurley, Jarred Christmas and Dai Henwood offered fairly trademark sets, four parts affable matey delivery to one part new gags. While festival regular James Nokise's skewering of his past in a Samoan street gang, one again made you wonder why he's not a household name. Or why a local hip-hop label hasn't signed him up for a comedy album.
The best of the locals, though, was Sam Wills - the UK based Boy with the Tape on His Face - who offered one of the night's rare potential side-splitters with a combination of his one-man aerobatic display followed by a four-man audience-participation origami-meets-Twister arrangement, all done to the strains of Lean on Me. Of the Aussie imports, sometime 7 Days guest Tom Gleeson's offered a hilarious line in exasperation over iPhone dependence which recommends his own show highly. So is Steve Hughes, whose droll social commentary belied his biker-esque image.
And last man on was Heath "Chopper" Franklin, who's mock-menacing persona has a few miles on it, but still feels fresh and dangerous. His simmering frustration with the instant amnesia of Subway counter staff reaching boiling point was a great kicker to a long night.
Check out www.nzherald.co.nz for other great stories and reviews.