Comedy Divas

SKY CITY Theatre, Auckland

10/05/2009 - 10/05/2009

Embassy Theatre, Wellington

18/05/2009 - 18/05/2009

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

Like a Well-Shaken Cosmo the Comedy Divas are Straight Up!

A cocktail of divine comediennes serve up a tall glass of laughter in Auckland on the 10th of May and in Wellington on the 18th of May.

The sparkling tiara on the head of the NZ International Comedy Festival, Comedy Divas is one of the most successful events in the Festival.  It continues to be a cornerstone show as it gives an enthusiastic and loyal audience of savvy women a chance to grab their friends and have an incredible night on the town.

2006 "Scotswoman of the Year" finalist, 2008 Edinburgh Fringe Award winner and named the 3rd funniest comedian in the UK’s Time Out magazine, Janey Godley takes up her position as mistress of ceremonies in Auckland this year. Godley’s popularity on these shores has seen her almost as much of a attraction as the event itself – winning "Spirit of the Festival" in the 2006 Festival awards for "Good Godley!" and finding the time to release two books; the autobiography "Handstands In The Dark" becoming a UK Top Ten Bestseller.

The funniest working mother in Australia today, Fiona O’Loughlin presents this year’s event in Wellington and has behind her over ten years of experience not only as a stand-up comic but as a writer for ABC Radio and a columnist in her native Australia. Having made several appearances on television series in Oz such as "Spicks and Specks" and is a regular feature on the country’s popular television programme "Sunrise".  Fiona’s work on stage is as impressive as it off – headlining the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Edinburgh Fringe and earning acclaim at Montreal’s invitation-only festival Just For Laughs.

Taking to the stage this year are a mixture of comediennes both shaken and stirred within the comedy world – last year’s Fred award nominee Justine Smith, comedy Queen-bee Michele A’Court, Jan Maree, Ireland’s Maeve Higgins, Australia’s Hannah Gadsby and many more to be announced!

Put on your glad rags, call your girlfriends and as always pack your waterproof mascara with you – 2009’s Comedy Divas is best served with lashing of bubbly and plenty of sass! It’s better than Sex… in the City.

Goody bags for all and prizes to be won!!

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Comedy Divas plays:

Sunday 10th May, 7:30pm
SKYCITY Theatre, corner Hobson Street and Wellesley Street, Auckland CBD
Hosted by Janey Godley (Scotland) and featuring Michele A’Court, Maeve Higgins, Justine Smith and more to be announced

Monday 18th May, 7:30pm
Embassy Theatre, 10 Kent Terrace

Hosted by Fiona O’Loughlin (Australia) and featuring Hannah Gadsby (Australia), Justine Smith, Jan Maree and more to be announced.

Tickets: Adults – $35/Concessions & Groups 10+ – $29.50/ Special Luxury Seats (Wellington only) $39.50
Booking: TICKETEK – 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385) or (service fees apply)


Undercurrent of raunchy nouveau feminism

Review by Melody Nixon 20th May 2009

The mood of Comedy Divas‘ gloriously entertaining one night show is held deftly aloft by MC Fiona O’Laughlin.  The Australian comedian has a talented mix of women to support her act – Hannah Gadsby, Penny Ashton, Jan Maree and Justine Smith are the stand outs of the stand ups – and though the intention is that O’Laughin ferries in and supports their routines, at the Wellington show we very much ended up with the reverse. O’Laughlin raised the most consistent laughs and maintained a steady stream of imaginative, cruelly cutting wit throughout the night while the acts she introduced had occasional troughs of quality.

In the end wry O’Laughlin, splayed out (in what we learn is a typically lazy fashion) on the Embassy stairwell, went over-time with her intermediary skits and had to be pulled back. The second half of the show was raced through, and a tad disappointingly so, as it had two of the best routines of the evening.

Justine Smith, the last of the line up, is as rough as they come.  Her cut-throat wit is so offensive and bawdy it holds everyone in a steady state of agonised laughter. Why, I found myself asking, is it so deliciously wonderful to hear sexist, rude jokes from a woman like this, when I find them intolerable, by and large, when told by male comedians?

First there’s the obvious truth that Smith is a great performer; she pulls jokes out with a grace that’s almost lackadaisical, she’s such an old hand. Second, I am a woman and there’s undoubtedly some joy in seeing my own kind up there bashing the opposite sex. But the audience was full of men guffawing loudly too.

Is it, rather, that women comedians are still pushing the envelope somehow with their sexist jokes and jokes about sex?  With men, it’s all been done before – too many times.  Bring us something new.  But with women – there’s still something distinctly, and wonderfully, shocking about seeing a woman arrange herself on stage, legs splayed, doggie-style and file her nails while miming being ‘rooted’ from behind – a Justine Smith specialty that one.

For Penny Ashton "rooting" and "pashing" are also topics of choice, though she ventures into themes of alcoholism and linguistics and has two musical interludes: one ukulele (for ukulele obsessed Wellingtonians, apparently) and the other hip-hop. Her routine is satisfyingly rounded out with a great deal of irony, and this gives weight and a sense of reflection to her upbeat stories.  Like most of the night’s Divas she mentions her boobs a lot, too.

Jan Maree and Hannah Gadsby appear to be the ladies most naturally imbued with the gift of the gab.  Their pure, energetic chatter is ample to keep the audience roused. The way both comedians relax into their respective performances and seem at great peace with their role on stage comes in welcome contrast to other less confident acts on the night. Interestingly, women’s hair – bush hair, armpit hair, mo’ hair – is a strong thread for both routines. Maree approaches it with a flippant and even arrogantly charming gusto. In contrast, Gadsby dishes out her droll observations with a slow and measured wit.  Both contribute to a wonderfully reaffirming discourse on the nature of womanhood and the role (or absence) of men and the role (or absence) of hair in self-definition. 

There is, in fact, an undercurrent of raunchy nouveau feminism throughout much of Comedy Divas.  And it is nouveau feminism with the best of both feminist worlds – sexy high heels and cute dresses combined with sexual assuredness and demonstrative, confident attitudes.  All this is helped along by the fact that these women stand ups are, mostly, "mature" (as they keep reminding us) and have obviously fought a few battles to get where they are. 

In addition to being a superb night out, Comedy Divas is a step in the right direction towards giving a solid two finger salute to anyone who dares doubt the mighty wit of women and their deserved place in the world of comedy. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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A great night – unless you are slender?

Review by Joanna Davies 11th May 2009

Mother’s Day was the perfect date for the theatre-filling cabaret of chick comedy, The Comedy Divas. There wasn’t an ironing board, recipe book, or pot-scourer in sight – the evening was all about celebrating women and humouring men (however you choose to interpret that).

Glaswegian Janey Godley was the MC and she was the perfect choice. Her ability to draw a crowd in and keep them entertained is remarkable and the audience would have been quite happy if she’d had the stage for the whole 2 ½ hours. She admitted to having consumed too many gins, getting too little sleep and entertaining too many children at Stand Up for Kids, yet still she sparkled. Teach me how, Janey!

Penny Ashton was the first out with her tiny pink ukulele. Penny has a fabulous gift for owning a stage and taking her audience on a journey, although her pash demo had the front few rows recoiling in fear. Her ode to the man-shortage in Auckland was masterful – especially for those further back who weren’t still in pash-shock. Penny can be seen about town in in Austen Found (previously reviewed), Sex Lies and Improvise, and The Secret Diary of the Donkey Kong Kid.


Relative newcomer Urzila Carlson followed (catch her in Trikes from Wed 13th to Sat 16th) with her tales of having to be cut from a hula hoop as a child. She made no bones about the fact that she’ll never be able to skinny dip, but boy can she chunky dunk.

Weight was an recurring theme throughout the evening (yes folks, female comedians are capable of so much more than menstrual cycles and slagging off men). A very laid-back Princess Irene Pink talked us through her weight-loss journey and explained she doesn’t have a goal weight, figuring a goal statement is healthier – her idea of a healthy had to be tongue in cheek – it certainly involved never putting anything else there.

Later Michelle A’Court had a few things to say about such women, but Justine Smith‘s digs were reserved for hairdressers. Apparently it was a career she aspired to until she got to fourth form and realised she was overqualified. Her off-hand comments, asides and self-deprecation were refreshing, risqué and delicious. A married-for-34-years gent in the front row didn’t escape her questioning and I’m relieved she offered her therapist’s details to his children after asking them if they thought their parents still have sex after all that time.

I couldn’t believe that Rose Matafeo is still at high school. She blew us away with stage presence, timing and terrific observations beyond her years and experience. And due to her age and the fact that her Mum was probably in the audience her set was cleaner than clean. She proved you don’t need to swear or rely on sex to get a laugh (although Facebook let her raise the topic). She’s absolutely right – a mullet doesn’t say "business at the front, party at the back"; I won’t spoil it for you though – find out at her show "A Guide to the Uncool" from Tuesday 19th.

Jim (yes, Jim) Stanton had a crack at hairdressers too regaling tales that had her in tears in her salon chair. And not because she didn’t get what her stylist promised, rather because she might. Jim looked stunning, took tangent after tangent and was quirkily fabulous (I now wonder what my dairy milk and soy milk get up to in the fridge when the door is shut). She and her fellow Comediettes play from Tuesday the 12th to Sat 16th. 

International star Maeve Higgins followed and managed to take the mickey out of us taking the mickey out of the Irish. It wasn’t until she arrived in NZ that she heard her first Irish joke but she’s already twigged that they’re all about getting drunk and looking for potatoes. Bless her; she didn’t reciprocate with any "you Kiwis…" jokes.

Maeve’s somewhat cautious style and natural bashfulness is endearing – if you can, be captivated by her from Tuesday to Saturday this week.

The evening was wrapped up by Michelle A’Court – a true comedy diva. She regaled us with tales about her long-standing house-guest who, frankly she’s getting a bit sick of after 16 years. Her daughter took it well. She had plenty of great ideas about the Super-city and managed to have a go at men’s inability to make small talk. In an international comedy competition she has my vote for NZ’s representative.

All in all it was a great night. People left happy, Mums felt spoiled and the only people who were slightly subdued were the slender females in the audience – but they might have just been hungry.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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