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

26/04/2013 - 26/04/2013

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

It’s the night of nights, the best of the best, a glamour of gags. The Comedy Gala kicks off the Festival with a touch of class and a yardie of good times at The Civic. 

Crowned ‘Funniest Person on TV’ (TV Guide), Jeremy Corbett hosts our 21st with a sensational local and international line-up featuring:
Arj Barker (US),
The Boy With Tape On His Face (NZ),
Heath Franklin’s Chopper (AUS),
Stephen K Amos (UK),
Tom Gleeson (AUS),
Dai Henwood (NZ),
Steve Hughes (AUS),
Urzila Carlson (SA/NZ),
Ewen Gilmour (NZ),
Idiots Of Ants (UK),
Ben Hurley (NZ),
Chris Martin (UK),
Jeremy Elwood (NZ),
Fiona O’Loughlin (AUS),
James Acaster (UK),
James Nokise (NZ),
Jarred Christmas (NZ/UK),
TJ McDonald (NZ), and
2012 Billy T Award Winner Guy Williams (NZ). 

You are welcome. Laugh yourself silly. 

Dates: Fri 26 April, 8pm
Venues: The Civic, Auckland
Tickets: $94.90* service fees may apply
Bookings: 0800 BUY TICKETS
Show Duration: 2 hours+ 

2 hrs +

Let the party begin

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 27th Apr 2013

The 2013 NZ Comedy Festival team have produced another slick, well-oiled, world-class Comedy Gala to be proud of. 

MC Jeremy Corbett tells us we’ve come of age, as we settle into the NZ International Comedy Festival’s 21st Gala-birthday bash at the beautiful Civic Theatre.

I worked on the inaugural Comedy Gala, over the road at the now shamefully dilapidated, abandoned St James, which is still waiting to be saved ( Despite Jeremy endowing that mid 90s Gala as comedy cavemen times for comic effect, in reality, the first Gala was a rollercoaster of low-budget technical risks, scheduling disasters, big highs and embarrassing lows. But we did it – we started the journey. It was comedy anarchy, a night when folks could chain smoke backstage in the dimly lit tinderbox. What could possibly go wrong?

The finale back then was Mika and some scantily clad lads singing about Marina; the highlight was our one international guest, Australia’s fabulous Bob Downe in a tractor-trailer unit, being mustered on by our awesome hosts, Lynda and Jules Topp. But the Kiwi bits in between were all over the place, in terms of basic ability, experience and success.

Not so last night. Not one of the 20 acts miss their mark – but more than that – the Kiwis come out on top, lead by one of our comedy veterans, Jeremy Corbett. 

As a comedian, Jeremy is totally accessible, with a winning mix of self-deprecation, wit, seasoned delivery and addictive narrative. Highlights include his sublime ‘Internal-Gangs-of-Drunkenness’ routine, followed by his manly ‘rewards’ system. Corby also delivers the best ‘Kiwi-bloke-just-give-it-a-go-mate-racing-commentary-rant’ of the night.

As our guide he is generous in equal measure to all his fellow performers. Using speed dating as an analogy for the gala’s intention (as the audience susses out which of the 20 acts we want to see again over the festival), Jeremy sets up each act with enthusiastic, warm introductions. By comparison with some international artists who have been given the role in the past – stumbling over pronunciations, show-order, and seemingly under-prepared (perhaps being more concerned about their own routines, than the MC-ing role) – Jeremy cements himself as a world-class host.

This year’s set design gives us plenty to think about, as the start is delayed (due to unavoidable Auckland traffic congestion, the worst our city has seen since Wednesday night). Be it inspired by Japanese lanterns, The Southern Alps, chopsticks and baking paper or a Maori fortress, they’re all fitting images for the mountain of comedy and variety about to unfold.

Content wise, farts, poos and penises, are still alive and well, and getting the desired reaction, either as the comedy that some audiences love to hate or, for others, the comedy they just can’t get enough of. In particular, the only American comedian of the night, Arj Barker, boldly goes where no comedian has gone before, to make his shit work a comedy treat.

Given that many of our household-name NZ comedians are now in their 30s and married with kids, it’s heartening to hear comedy-gold from their new POV. Ben Hurley and Dai Henwood in particular, put a fantastic twist on living the (new) dream.  However, the biggest crowd reactions of the night come from material that is above the belt, contemporary and delivered with a fresh perspective.

Standouts include NZ’s Sam Wills’ The Boy With Tape On His Face: an act that continues to evolve and thrill audiences using good ole simple story-telling through mime, expression, well-chosen musical-underlay and audience participation, all knitted together to create a fail-safe routine. Once again, The Boy conquers the night with his unique self-defining genius.

Astute NZ comedians Jeremy Elwood and Guy Williams deliver two of the best punch lines of the night. Jeremy E opens with his usual blisteringly funny twist on the politics of the day (arguments against gay marriage) then throws in Jesus, marriage and Hobbits to complete a fine routine. Guy Williams’ fresh and frank viewpoints as a young white man from Nelson are undeniably funny, as he continues to unashamedly bash his way through the Kiwi comedy ranks.

Fellow kiwis Ben Hurley, Ewen Gilmour, TJ McDonald, Jared Christmas and James Nokise, all perform solid, entertaining routines and are warmly received, as are local favourites, Dai Henwood and Urzila Carlson. Urzila milks her status as our newest NZ-er and then merges into a fine routine about road-rage and our driving habits. Jared Christmas delivers a great punch line at the end of his aggressive routine, though it feels like a long time to be yelled at before you get there.

UK comedy is well represented. The young and charmingly silly comedy group Idiots Of Ants, plus hot young star Chris Martin, both entertain with material that is brave, contemporary and fresh. Chris’ take on dogs and their owners, is fantastic. Well-known British stand-up Stephen K Amos shares entertaining stories about extreme sports and Australians with ease, while Markus Birdman does the same with his take on love.


In the ‘odd, slightly weird, yet memorable category’ are UK comedian James Acaster, Steve Hughes from Australia and Tom Green from Canada. James takes fruit to new comedy heights with his gently simmering yet entertaining routine, with sensible, well reasoned punch lines. Steve Hughes is uncomfortable with the time restraints of the Gala, and tells us so. While he comes across as slightly smug as a result, he warms up to a fine routine about his love for Asians, which I have no doubt will provide a great night of comedy in the context of his full show.

I’d say the same of Tom Green. The unsuspecting front row are wide-eyed and slightly terrified (but in a good way) as he delivers his comedy assault about growing up on a Canadian Army Base, then dealing with white-out (twink) and a compass at school. Off the wall and clever.

Top Australian comedians, familiar to Kiwi audiences through TV3’s 7Days, Tom Gleeson and the ever-popular Chopper, bookend the night with hilarious routines – completely different in style, yet equally punchy. Tom opens the night with a hilarious download on iPhone 5, iCloud and other Apple iHype – iLike.

Chopper, as the closing act, rips up the night with a fantastic bombastic angry rant about small matters that are troubling him – including sandwiches made by goldfish – before winning top honours for best dramatic exit at a comedy Gala, ever.

Happy 21st guys. Let the party begin.


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