Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

10/05/2014 - 10/05/2014

Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

17/05/2014 - 17/05/2014

NZ International Comedy Festival 2014

Production Details

We all start somewhere – like when Dai Henwood DJ’ed weddings; Rhys Darby was in the army; and Guy Williams could’ve been a professional basketball player, but luckily for us they ended up in comedy.

Rose Matafeo (Jono And Ben at Ten & Billy T Award Winner) and Rhys Mathewson (Billy T Award Winner) started their awesome comedy careers in Class Comedians. Who’ll be next? 

After intensive training, the next generation of seriously talented high school students are ready to unleash their stand-up skills on the public in a hilarious fresh comedy showcase.

Dates: Sat 10 May, 4pm 
Venues:  Rangatira at Q Theatre, Auckland 
Tickets:  Adults $25.00
Conc. $15.00* service fees may apply 
Bookings:  09 309 9771 

Dates:  Sat 17 May, 4pm 
Venues:  Hannah Playhouse 
Tickets:  Adults $25.00 
Conc. $15.00* service fees may apply 
Bookings:  0800 TICKETEK (842 538) 


NZ comedy’s future really looking good

Review by Charlotte Simmonds 20th May 2014

[Note: This review was held back pending clarification and verification of the participants’ names. It took a while … – ED]

I can understand that you might not go to see secondary school students trying their hand at stand-up comedy unless you’re a supportive friend or family member, but as a non-interested party, I find this at least as entertaining as watching ‘adult’ comedians, if not more so. 

Without any pressure to think that the performers are brilliant stars whom I should definitely laugh at because they are famous, international celebrities and because an Edinburgh reviewer told me I should, I come to the conclusion that these performers are brilliant stars of my own accord and laugh accordingly.

MC Jamie Bowen helps to alleviate performers’ nerves and encourages the audience into being slightly more responsive than New Zealand audiences might otherwise be. He also informs us throughout the afternoon of how threatened he feels by these fantastic young comedians and lets us know he is contracted to be desperate for attention. 

First up is Tom Basire* who has everyone laughing as soon as he mentions his dead wife. I’m not sure if his jokes are funny in themselves or whether the humour comes from the absurdity of a 16- or 17-year-old talking about having to send his three kids to an orphanage. Whatever it is, it works.

Paeaka Reid from Paraparaumu is certainly the best dressed performer in a tailcoat, bowtie and elegant yellow scarf, and – with impressive height – looks much older than he is (nearly 18). He has the stage confidence of a very seasoned artist and is also a very good writer. I can well imagine him writing for the page in future as well as continuing on the stage. 

Michael Nobbs reminds me a little of Emo Philips, and maybe that’s a comedian he should check out if he’s not familiar with him already. He starts with a joke that requires an audience member to stand up and I feel pretty annoyed with the two audience members who refuse to stand up so he can finish making his joke about stand-up being something anyone can do (if you’re coming to watch secondary school students doing stand-up you are probably a friend or family member and the least you can do is participate in the most minimal amount of audience participation imaginable). He tells a story about swallowing a mysterious pill, ending in, “you will grow a vagina.”

Nikki Taite* is nearly 17 and I really hope this performer goes on to have a big career because I think what she has to say is important. She is from Upper Hutt and her stories are all about things like ethnicity, white versus non-white, the ethnic police, the parts of town where one brown family lives, Hone who has seen the light and is now John. While her stories are presented as “this is funny, you should laugh at it,” at the same time they are true, real and extremely uncomfortable. She talks about racism that is invisible to me. I am white and these kinds of experiences are not something I ever face. And it’s all just up the road from me, not in a gangster neighbourhood in the US. And it is a 17-year-old girl who is telling me these things and breaking my heart. It is important that there is room in New Zealand for this kind of comedy.

Scott Brieseman likes trains a lot and his set mostly consists of puns. I love puns and I hope he is able to refine his more and keep developing them. He also takes the Roger/Oveur/tower sequence from Airplane! and makes it longer and far more ridiculous, turning into much more of a “Who’s On First?” than the scene originally was. This is also good and I hope he can work on this kind of story-telling more as well.

Ben Miller manages to do something very few of the comedians pull off: call-backs to earlier jokes he’s made. That’s pretty hard to do in ten minutes. I love his meerkats – Gerald and what sounded like Gerald’s wife – and would like to see a full show of talking zoo animals. He’s latched onto a pretty limitless source of material there.

After the break, Te Atawhai Maginess asks her dad, on being asked to tidy her bedroom, if the guests are planning to eat dinner in it. She is my 13-year-old date’s favourite comedian but I wonder if that’s because he thinks she’s pretty. He tells me the ‘tidy your room/dinner in bedroom’ joke comes from a Facebook meme, which I think is a valid source, particularly as she manages to create so much more out of it than a meme could ever have offered, covering her ‘walk-on wardrobe’ and culminating in a very interesting observation about what’s lost when a room is tidy. 

Jeremy Brow seems to be some sort of sinister Dr. Strangelove-cum-Kim Dotcom type character who keeps talking about his very expensive car, stereo system and dolphin tank and ends in telling us he’s not sure what we’re all doing here either.

Part-Mexican, part-American and part-Kiwi Samuel Porta has a strong concept in comparing and doing impressions of TV ads in the US, New Zealand and Mexico. He also really makes me want to go to Mexico.

Bianca Villarante from the Philippines is 17 years old but has the sweet, innocent, endearing face of a six-year-old, which I think is how she manages to pull off a very detailed story about doing a poo or “busting a grumpy” as she calls it. This flips my mind a little bit – an extremely petite and cute, broadly grinning secondary school girl is telling me an elaborate poo story – but I’m letting her, because it doesn’t feel much different to the sorts of stories told by much younger children. If she can keep that trait going for another fifteen years, she’ll be able to get away with the most ridiculous and, in any other circumstance, appalling, anecdotes and no one will feel offended.

Although I love them all, the final comedian is my favourite. Liam Whitney* enters dressed in a brown onesie and starts talking in a depressed monotone. He hates cicadas and has extremely beautiful terms to describe how irritating they are. He also hates crickets and watching crickets but what he hates most of all is when a cricket sits next to you at the cricket. This was a very well put together piece performed by a very well-crafted stage persona.

As Jamie Bowen reiterates throughout the show, if this is the future of New Zealand comedy, it’s really looking good.  
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
*Tom Basire (winner of Highly Commended); Nikki Taite (winner of Nailed it on the Night); Liam Whitney (winner of Comedians Choice)


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Potential worth nurturing

Review by Regan Crummer 11th May 2014

Class Comedians. I am a little nervous coming to see this show. A bunch of high school teenagers doing stand-up comedy? Will that work? Turns out it does actually, and much better than I’ve expected it too. Stand-up comedy is much harder than it appears and it can be extremely daunting, especially if you are new. I take my hat off to these nine young comics for their efforts and hope they continue to exercise their talents. 

The students have been fortunate to receive training from Jamie Bowen, who lets rip with his comic skills at the beginning, welcoming the audience. He is extremely funny, taking a few minutes to warm up our chuckle muscles with some quips to do with the miserable state of old London town, and the people there. From watching Jamie for just a couple of minutes, I can tell at once how fortunate the class comedians are at having Bowen as their tutor; he obviously has a wealth of knowledge and talent that he can share with them.  

This showcase of comedy is basically nine short performances, and the first half opens with Tim Meyer, who although a little quiet and shy is a joy to watch. His entrance on crutches provokes laughs as he chucks them on the stage, revealing what the crutches are for.  I enjoy his gags about the different types of trolleys at various stores, and when he opens up about his love of a good cup of tea, the audience shakes with laughter. However, there are a few awkward moments, and it falls flat when he loses his lines a little, but he recovers and that is the important thing. Opening a show by yourself is hard and although Meyer does stumble a fraction, he builds his act nicely and is received well.

Courtney Nel is clearly a confident performer. She engages well, and is extremely clear in her delivery. She has a short segment offering advice on surviving your mid-life crisis (this is pretty damn slick) and my personal favourite, a Shakespearian substitute for swearing. She also says she is old fashioned, and reveals why she would much rather wear track pants. I am glad that Courtney embraces who she is as a person, and mixes this in with her comedy.  

Reuben Shortland brings along jokes that many young people would relate to very well, and even though I do not know the slightest about X Box gaming, I get the gags due to his clear delivery. The simile of a PlayStation being “like a girlfriend” makes me laugh. Reuben also makes light of his physique (6’4” and solid) and tells us that his mum believes he is responsible for a number of small Auckland earthquakes. Being rather heavy myself (but sadly way under six foot) I naturally understand this.

Isaac McNickle wins the evening’s award for best entrance in my books.  He doesn’t speak a word to begin with, instead allowing physical comedy and facial expression to work their wonders. He is half the size of Reuben Shortland, and really deserves the laughs he gets from his routine with the microphone stand, which due to the prior comic, towers above him. He sets up a problem then finds a simple solution, and this classic formula is a winner. When he finally speaks I realise this guy is very gifted with comedy, and in some ways reminds me a bit of Ronnie Corbett, who, like Isaac, was always having a good laugh about being vertically challenged. I love this young man’s sense of humour, and the jokes about vegetarian vampires, and getting stopped by the police when driving. His closing remark about Snow White having seven [spoiler averted] is blooming priceless.

I enjoy poetry and am pleased when Lucy Caccioppoli shares some with the audience. She is unique and I encourage her to keep hold of that.  The poems, which revolve around a hamster amongst other things, are a little random and frankly bizarre, but they are witty and I appreciate them.  I have to laugh when Lucy tells us about Ponsonby’ alternative to gangs. As Fred Dagg would say, “Bloody good Trev!”

Julie Williamson also shares a love of funny poetry and recites one entitled ‘My Grandad Shot my Cat’. She is very nervous and does make a few slip-ups, but she needs to have more confidence because she has some great comedy to offer. To be honest I do find certain parts to be dull but with some more work she could overcome this. My highlight of Julie’s act would have to be the Justin Beiber fan fiction she wrote: it captures the saucy corniness that is so typical of this writing genre.

I can tell Jack Dadson understands some of the theory behind solid comedy, and his imitation of a pigeon doing a double take is highly amusing. He is one of the few who venture away from the safety net of the microphone stand to deliver gags.  I like the evil Girl Guide piece, and his facial expressions and physical comedy are an advantage.  

I like new and original ideas, I’m always looking for something fresh, and I confess I have never come across a comedian who enters chewing slowly on dinosaur sweets! Ruby Alan-McKee has a deadpan style of comedy for the majority of her act, and she keeps the pace slow and steady. She talks about the different types of skateboard walks and then demonstrates them, much to the audiences delight.

The closing act of Class Comedians is Chester Jarrat, who introduces himself as being “incredibly cheap”. His humour comes from his love of saving money, obsession with the business and cooperate world, and Kmart. Especially Kmart actually, as he gets carried away with tales that mock the store, its employees, and the products it sells.  He has a mature sense of humour and this act is well prepared. Although it lacks enthusiasm and a little energy at some points, it is a sound performance.

Overall I’m impressed by the talent that is showcased by the Class Comedians. It is still early days for all of these aspiring comics and each of them still have mountains to climb, but there is strong potential and I encourage them all to continue their work in the industry. All they really need is more practical experience and I do hope they get that opportunity. If these comedians are the future of New Zealand comedy, we need to nurture them carefully.


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