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Sunday 12 October 2008

'A whole lot of funny' at NZ's Comedy Festival 2007

Posted in: Movies
By Matt Akersten - 7th May 2007

The 2007 NZ International Comedy Festival premiered in Auckland’s St James Theatre on Friday night, with their regular ‘pick and mixer’ showcase of over 20 of the festival’s best acts. It was a great chance to see who tickles your funny bone best, and who to avoid. There were some first-night nerves (Jan Maree) an MC who got much better as he went along (Ardal O’Hanlon) outstanding use of audience participation (Sam Willis: The boy with tape on his face) and only one real stinker (‘That Indian Guy’) who needs some new material fast!

For me, the highlights were Carl Barron (Aussie), Ed Byrne (Irish – and his haircut makes him look hot), and of the local acts Simon McKinney was my favourite. It’ll be interesting who makes the cut when an edited version of the show is broadcast tomorrow night on TV2 (at 9.30pm, and then repeated on Friday night at the same time).

I was disappointed to find my favourite act from previous NZ Comedy Festivals wasn’t at the showcase this year – UK stand-up Stephen K Amos. He’s on stage again this year in central Auckland, Manukau and Wellington, and having seen him twice before in previous years, I recommend him highly – especially since he’s now ‘out’ as a gay comedian this year. Here’s a short clip showing what to expect from Amos:

There were many more acts not at the opening night showcase I’m particularly interested to see. Metro magazine advises those ‘Puppetry of the Penis’ show-offs that their 15 minutes of fame are up, but if you haven’t seen their show yet, they really are worth it – just don’t expect anything new if you’ve already seem them once!

It’s now Auckland’s chance to see Penny Ashton’s new show ‘Hot Pink Bits’ – this was a burlesque-esque hot hit at the Wellington Fringe Festival this year. Or if you’re after something a little more ‘punishing’, catch live demonstrations from Wellington’s hot dominatrix property Ivanja Dabrowski at Auckland’s SILO theatre and at home at Welly’s BATS Theatre.

Sexy, sassy, simply delicious… favourite Jan Maree stars in a show which combines eating with laughing! Surely not a good look for most people, but sink your teeth into Jan’s culinary comedy ‘Eat Me’ and you’ll see why she’s New Zealand’s only XXX-rated comedian…

Gazza and Bazza’s Bloody Excellent Extra Extravaganza’ is a great taste of Kiwiana, featuring 2006 comedy festival ‘best newcomer’ award winner – and local gay boy – Daryl Wrightson in a one-man show. Audiences should be prepared for a rollercoaster of crazy character comedy in this bizarre show. “This definitely isn’t just stand up, so leave any expectations of that at the door,” Daryl tells Following last year’s show, our farming friend is now a celebrity, but fear not – he’s still as down-to-earth as ever. We asked how rehearsals for the show were going. “Bloody brilliant mate,” came the jovial reply. “Well actually I've got the bloody shits at the moment mate, and I'm talking about the real warm runny ones. But the show must go on. If worst comes to worst, you can improvise. Actually I don’t know what improvising is, so I'm going to make it up as I go along!” Thanks for the info, Daryl!

And finally, the award for gayest show at the 2007 Comedy Festival goes to… can I have the envelope please… ‘Hushabye Mountain’. This is the theatre of high camp, with a good-looking cast of young men, and guest starring caricatures of pop icons Judy Garland, Mary Poppins, Cher and the legendary Virgin Mary herself. The playwright is Jonathan Harvey, perhaps best-known for the beloved gay teenage romance, ‘Beautiful Thing’, and the outrageous BBC sitcom ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme’. The opening night on Wednesday 16th May is a fundraiser for the NZ AIDS Foundation, and it continues at Auckland’s Maidment Theatre until Saturday 2nd June.

That’s it for our round-up of the year’s comedy festival – but to finish, here’s video clips of two international stand-up stars visiting this year – Ireland’s Dylan Moran (from TV One’s Black Books) and Australian favourite Carl Barron. Enjoy.

Matt Akersten - 7th May 2007