Cadbury Crunchie Comedy Gala

Civic Theatre, cnr of Queen Street & Wellesley Street West, Auckland

18/04/2008 - 18/04/2008

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details


Hot demand sees the Hollywood event of NZ comedy take residence at the Civic Theatre when the Cadbury Crunchie Comedy Gala rolls out the red carpet on April 18 for a sizzling night of comedy action. This highly popular opening event kicks off 3 weeks of madness with a showcase offering the very best international and local acts in the 2008 NZ International Comedy Festival programme.

"Stand up’s most irresistible rogue" Jeff Green (UK), returns to New Zealand to take on the task of wrangling this year’s stunning line-up of comedians as the 2008 Gala Host. Author of the bestselling novel "The A-Z of Being Single" Green’s abundant natural charm and razor-sharp observations make him great host material for an event of this magnitude.

Filmed live for television, the fast paced Gala delivers a barrage of talent to the stage giving everyone a taster of what to expect from the Festival season; from Flight of the Conchords star Arj Barker (USA), the iconic Ewen Gilmour (NZ), Irish funny man Jimeoin (Australia) to the triumphant return of the UK’s Mark Watson, whose season at last year’s Festival was a sellout. The two part TV2 presentation of the Cadbury Crunchie Comedy Gala drew big ratings last year and won the TV Guide’s 2007 "Best on The Box People’s Choice Award" for Best Special Event.

Though on the surface it may seem a high-brow affair with the glitz and glamour, underneath it is a rip roaring, thigh slapping, bladder busting three hours of top entertainment to kick start this year’s incredible season of comic ingenuity.

The 2006 and 2007 Gala’s sold out in record speeds. 2008 will be no different – so avoid tears of sorrow and shed tears of laughter by booking your ticket NOW! 


Cadbury Crunchie Comedy Gala plays at The Civic Theatre, THE EDGE®
Friday April 18th, 8pm
Tickets: Premium $75.00 + booking fees;  A Reserve $68.50+ booking fees;  B Reserve$58.50+ booking fees;  C Reserve $48.50+ booking fees
Book now from TICKETEK: 0800 TICKETEK (0800 245 5385)
Show Duration: 3 Hours including an interval
Screening on TV2 Part 1 Weds 23  & Part 2 Fri 25 April 

3 hrs incl. interval

The sacrificial altar of laughter

Review by Russell Baillie 21st Apr 2008

With its gas flames, its pools of water and stone walls, the stage set of the NZ International Comedy Festival gala opening had the unfortunate look of a sacrificial altar.

Which, of course, was apt. For this first night, starring much of the three-week programme has always been something of a trial by fire – the acts have just three or so minutes to make an impression. Or in some, mostly local, cases try to prove that their material has moved on from previous years. [More]    


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Top night all round

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 20th Apr 2008

The Gala has a new home. It’s moved from the loveable grunge of the St James, across the road to the luxury and comfort of the Mighty Civic. Would the heart remain now that it looks so neat and tidy, so grown up and posh? Hell yes.  

Walking into the foyer, we are greeted by t-shirt wearing crunchie kids, enticing all to participate in comedy in various ways. We seize their free crunchies, then wimp out, declining to wear a wacky wig in exchange for free drinks. Judging from the number of tinsel heads in the audience, many took up the challenge though.

That’s one of the beauties of the Gala and the Comedy Festival – it puts you in a bloody good mood, right from the start, and we need a laugh at the moment.

Once in the auditorium, we are greeted by a fantastic elemental set, framed by 3 neatly curved walls, which absorb various lighting textures and colours throughout the night. The house lights fade and "hot comedy" ignites, as a series of impressive flame bars crackle away. The stage is a tilted rectangle floating in the middle of a large pond, and each act must ‘walk the plank’ to get to it.

UK’s Jeff Green is the perfect host. Aware that the night features a whopping 23 acts from around the globe, he is quick to get underway. He keeps a lively pace throughout, and the jokes come thick and fast – every one of them a winner. He’s an accommodating guy, happily completing the set design by placing a rubber-duckie in the water, giving supportive introductions throughout the night as well as helpful back announcements with key performance information.

World class, Green is entertaining from start to finish. By the time he’s shared the birth of his child, his first grey hair, dissecting the front row, ninja mums, and a throwaway question for Muppet fans, I’ve laughed so much it hurts.

The standard of performance this year is very high and the New Zealanders (both those living here and those returning from overseas for Festival), give solid performances, without exception.

Ewen Gilmour is at his usual Westie best – the audience greets him warmly, like a long lost mate. James Nokise, of Samoan/Welsh ancestry, is a confident performer and while a tad light on laughs on the night, he delivers a polished routine. Dynamo Dai Henwood is back from touring the Australian outback to share his experiences of bad car Karma. He struts on with his trademark high energy, ends with his crowd-pleasing mime to Prince’s When Doves Cry, and proves once again, that he is one of our most watchable comedians.

Improvised comedy can die the most horrible of deaths in a variety show of high quality, self-contained acts. Happily, The Improv Bandits are a clever, quick-witted Kiwi trio and their version of Little Red Riding Hood is very enjoyable. Veteran festival performer Jeremy Elwood chooses a mix of old and new hot topics picked up by our media over the last year or so. True to form, his political insights are savagely good. Al Pitcher tells an extremely good yarn, and relishes the opportunity to share memories of a tense family moment with an appreciative audience.

Justine Smith, while at first slightly tentative on new material, is back to her sharp form by the end of her routine. 2007 Billy T Award winners, Mrs Peacock, are one of only two musical acts of the night. They sing and harmonise their love-song-with-a-twist very well. Ben Hurley’s routine includes standard kiwi bloke stereotypes, but by far more entertaining, is his take on why women are such complex creatures. Irene Pink is in very good form. (Irish men beware). Her delivery is excellent, and she rides the wave of multiple punch lines with ease. Now a seasoned performer, she has built on her usual repertoire, adding political commentary to her saucy routine.

Beware any preconceived notions you might have about American comics, as they provided some of the most left-field material of the night. First, Arj Barker, of Flight of the Concords fame, gives an intriguing worldview and even though for a moment, he gets slightly lost in the Galaxy, he recovers with deadpan honesty, delivers his offbeat insights smoothly, and ends triumphant. Fellow American Eddie Ifft is a smart and totally likable guy – a winning combination on stage.

Laid back Canadian Jason John Whitehead makes several entertaining comparisons between our Nations. He has that perfect persona for comedy – almost charming but delightfully offensive as well. Charles Ross, also from Canada, is the man to see if you are a Star Wars fan. We get a few minutes of committed, exact scene recreation from his 60-minute one-man show tribute to the trilogy. His C3PO was brilliant.

As usual, the Irish comics are in blisteringly good form. David O’Doherty chooses personal stories about text messaging and technology to chat and sing about. (Lol) His One NotIrishman Neil Delamere delivers a very solid routine for his NZ debut, deriving clever wit from kauri trees and wonder bras.

The five Brits in the line-up are all standouts. Jason Cook is a little chatty longhaired Englishman, who from his opening line through to explaining his curse – the voice in his head – is very humorous. Josie Long is offbeat. A few minutes in a (by comparison) more mainstream variety show, isn’t really long enough to fully appreciate this bright, smiley, eccentric lass. Her pace and content has a style all of its own, but it’s good. Mark Watson is a wonderful talent. He’s polite, nice, totally lovable and hugely funny. Paul Tonkinson is a very entertaining, very brave Yorshireman, who dives straight into our anti smacking laws, then his experiences entertaining British troops in Afghanistan, with sidesplitting results. But it is his simple explanation of the principals of rugby, as he acts out the game, which brought the house down. John Fothergill is delicious mischief from Newcastle and judging by the highlights we heard, he is well worth hearing more from.

Both halves close with the return to Festival of past Australian favourites. Elastic duo The Umbilical Brothers, with a sketch involving a letter from Arnie and impressive physical agility, provide a humorous close to the first half. The best is saved till last, as Jimeoin closes an evening of top comedy, with his trademark yarns about everyday things. With effortless ease, he chats away about eyebrow etiquette and a new washing machine, leaving the entire audience in stitches.

If this year’s Gala is indicative of the standard and variety of laughs available round town this year, the producers of the NZ International Comedy Festival can be well proud of 2008. It just gets better and better. Top night all round.


Aaron Alexander April 21st, 2008

I know the above isn't the worst example, but as an improvisor, can I ask for a moratorium on reviewers saying things like "Of course, improvised comedy can sometimes fall flat - this time however it was very enjoyable"? I've lost count of the amount of times reviewers have said this kind of thing, as if they find it astonishing that the improv was successful, and wish to warn readers that it was most likely some kind of fluke, and they should expect it to be crap on every other night. I've never read a review which says "of course, scripted drama can often be dull, poorly written and badly acted - happily on this occasion it was none of these things". Hmph. /rant

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