May 25, 2009
CHRIS BRAIN and TE RADAR lead the field
Chris Brain scooped the NZ International Comedy Festival’s big prize, The Billy T Award, at the Last Laugh event on Sunday night in front of a sold out audience at SKYCITY Theatre.
Despite the recession New Zealanders flocked to see comedy shows this year, in the first week the festival sold 70 percent of last year’s total. Festival Director Kylie Aitchison was delighted with the outturn and support from the New Zealand public. "The strong numbers were a surprise," she said. "We were expecting to sell less this year, it seems people really did need a laugh."
Chris Brain won rave reviews with critics and audiences alike for his show In a Better Place. The show followed Chris’s darkly comic journey through depression, gambling, drinking, religion and drugs. Depression didn’t colour his view on life, it magnified Chris’s unique and hilarious take on the human condition and obviously touched and entertained audiences and judges alike.
Chris Brain beat out a high calibre of contestants involved in this year’s Billy T Awards: Jim Brown, James Keating, Dave Wiggins and Vaughan King were all in line for the big prize. The winner of the Billy T Award picks up not only the yellow towel synonymous with Billy T James but, also a $5000 cheque.
The irrepressible Te Radar became the fourth comedian to win the newly created FRED Award, besting the likes of Steve Wrigley and Paul Ego. He also picked up ‘Best Local Show’ in Auckland, highlighting what a huge success his show "Eating the Dog" was.
Garnering a standing ovation from fellow comedians, Te Radar joins past winners Dai Henwood, Brendhan Lovegrove and Ben Hurley, he received The Fred Award Boot and a $3000 travel grant.
Other winners included Rhys Mathewson who received "Best Newcomer" for his innovative show ‘The Best $18 You’ll Ever Spend’ and the UK’s Carey Marx picked up "Best International Act" to a rapturous applause.
The full list of NZ International Comedy Festival 2008 award winners are:
Billy T Award – Chris Brain
THE FRED Award – Te Radar
Best International – Carey Marx
Best Local Show Auckland – Te Radar
Best Local Show Wellington – Jan Maree
Best Newcomer – Rhys Mathewson
Spirit Of The Festival Auckland – Jeremy Elwood
Spirit Of The Festival Wellington – Derek Flores
Best Marketing – Dai Henwood