June 30, 2009

Welly Watch       posted 30 Jun 2009, 05:28 PM / edited 2 Jul 2009, 09:33 PM

Comedy Festival success [see news item below -ed] Does it mean Wellington punters have only just woken up to the comedy festival and are catching up with a big surge, or they / we are more interested per head of population?  Or does it mean Wellingtonians have been less hit by the recession – or worse hit, so more in need of the therapy comedy offers?

Anyway, whatever, congratulations to all concerned!


30 Jun 2009


The NZ International Comedy Festival has broken all previous records by confirming a national attendance of over 118,000 people in its 2009 programme. This staggering result shows a 50% increase from audience numbers in 2008.

Under the guidance of new Festival Director, Kylie Aitchison the Festival delivered the largest attendance in its 17-year history but has also increased the range of top-notch comedy available for all kiwis to enjoy. 

Compared to figures from 2008, attendance rose by 38%, from 53,172 to 73,559 (an increase of 20,387) for the Auckland season, while Wellington’s attendance figures rose from 18,939 to 31,399 (an increase of 12,460), showing a staggering 66% increase in numbers.

Attributing to these fantastic numbers are not only the popular cornerstones of the Festival, be it the ever successful Comedy Divas, at it’s new home at SKYCITY Theatre in Auckland and in Wellington, again at a new home at The Embassy Theatre, the Crunchie Comedy Gala, Last Laughs or Wellington’s Late Laughs, but also the new programmes on offer in 2009.

Best Of The Billy’s showcased the winners of the prestigious Billy T Award from the past 11 years, giving New Zealander’s a chance to celebrate the fine talent the country has to offer. Presented by Tui, Best Of The Billy’s was a sell out success in its inaugural performance.

Offering family friendly comedy, the Nickelodeon Kids Comedy Season, returned to Auckland and made its debut season in Wellington. The Festival’s strong ties with their sponsor SKYCITY Auckland helped not only light up a comedy beacon by bathing the SKY Tower in gold throughout the Festival, but also lit up the lives of children with life threatening illnesses with their support of SKYCITY Auckland Gastrocomique.

The lively SKYCITY Auckland Gastrocomique moved to the SKYCITY Auckland Convention Centre and over a three-course lunch, attendees watched Jeremy Corbett, Wilson Dixon, Mark Watson, Jeremy Elwood, Hannah Gadsby, Irene Pink and Janey Godley engage in a lively comedic debate. The event raised over $48,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, double what was raised in 2008.

Chris Brain also beat out a high calibre of contestants involved in this year’s Billy T Awards – picking up not only the yellow towel synonymous with Billy T James but also a $5000 cheque. Meanwhile the irrepressible Te Radar became the fourth comedian to win the newly created FRED Award, as well as picking up Best Local Show, highlighting what a huge success his show “Te Radar’s Eating the Dog” was.

“Despite a recession, the Festival has retained it’s core audience, with a higher number of shows this year extending their seasons,” Festival Director Kylie Aitchison states. “It’s an amazing result for the NZ Comedy Trust, our comedians and our sponsors and to see the increasing attendance alongside the strength of our local performers has provided the most promising start to my tenure as Festival Director!”

Organisers have already begun preparations for the 2010 NZ International Comedy Festival, which promises to deliver more exceptional comedy to a large-scale kiwi audience from the 23 April to 16 May 2010.


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