Opera House, Wellington

28/04/2013 - 28/04/2013

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

Hosted by the godfather of New Zealand Comedy, TV Guide’s 2012 ‘Funniest person on TV’ and 7 Days quizmaster Jeremy Corbett, this is the night of nights, the best of the best, celebrating the opening of the 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival in Wellington.

Jeremy will be joined on stage by…
Stephen K Amos (UK), Dai Henwood (NZ), Urzila Carlson (SA/NZ),
Ewen Gilmour (NZ), Tom Gleeson (AUS), Steve Wrigley (NZ),
Chris Martin (UK), Fiona O’Loughlin (AUS), Guy Williams (NZ),
Wilson Dixon (US), Michele A’Court (NZ), Steve Hughes (AUS),
James Nokise (NZ) & Gordon Southern (UK).

First Laughs  
Sunday 28 April, 7pm  
The Opera House, Wellington  

An auspicious start to the festival

Review by Hannah Smith 29th Apr 2013

First Laughs 2013 is the comedy version of speed dating.  Fifteen comedians try to charm the pants off the audience through a combo of material, personal charisma and whatever else they can muster in a six-minute slot.  It gives a good feel for the festival, and is a great opportunity to figure out who you’d like to see more of.  Just like a real date, of course, chances of success are heightened by the consumption of alcohol – and on Sunday night the Opera House was stuffed full of those on the razz – so things look good for a pretty successful date night.

MC Jeremy Corbett is our genial host for the evening, filling the gaps between acts with long narratives revolving around his wife, kids and the amount of play he gets in the bedroom. While much of his material follows the classic ‘Men, women, different, hahaha’ formula, which can feel tired, some of his jokes are fresher – like the secret science of hangovers – and really hit the mark. He keeps the pace up and the tone warm, and segues us between acts with ease.

Urzila Carlson kicks off the show musing on the things South Africans should never say, getting good mileage out of her new status as an official Kiwi.  She is followed by a list of luminaries. Chris Martin, a fresh Brit talent, and Guy Williams, last year’s Billy T nominee, are both distinguished by an understated humour and deadpan delivery which gives their material a contemporary feel.

James Nokise is a standout, granting us a glimpse of his gangster roots, incorporating physical comedy and even embracing some political jokes – coz you know that there are gangstas in government.

Wilson Dixon makes an appearance with his trademark guitar and cowboy get-up, making fun of metaphors in song. Michele A’Court has some banter about her daughter leaving home, and the changes this has wrought in their lives.

Jerome Chandrahasen attempts to riff off the audience, but struggles as the venue is not entirely suited to this approach.  Nick Rado tells an embarrassing story about a yoga class that is so successful we can here the comedians waiting to come on roaring with laughter backstage.

Brit-based Aussie Steve Hughes is here for his first NZ Comedy Festival, he seems slow to get going, but warms into a piece about New Zealand customs that rings true to all who have crossed our boarders. Stephen K Amos is sassy and derisive, using every gesticulation of hand and face to effect. 

I haven’t seen Steve Wrigley perform for a couple of years; he has lost his bandanna and is in fine form, toeing the line of good taste in a discussion of marriage equality and the not-so-new-now Give Way rule.

I note that there are more comics called Steve or Stephen than there are female comedians performing at First Laughs. There is, for my taste, an excess of blokiness in the evening.

Tom Gleeson, Dai Henwood, Ewen Gilmour, and Jarred Christmas all have great stage presence and perform sound routines, and if considered alone would probably be very funny; but there’s only so many times I can laugh at the hilarious notion of blow jobs, or titter at the risqué suggestion that a man might – Heavens! – touch another mans penis, in one night.  Where would comedians be without cock? That said, Gleeson’s routine is expertly structured, Henwood has some interesting new stuff drawn from his recent foray into parenting, Gilmour plays hilarious pranks on police, and Jarred Christmas has some killer punch-lines.

It is Tom Gleeson who finishes us off for the evening, with a story about ‘finishing off’ in a massage parlour, and an injunction to remember that only some of what we’ve heard is true. 

What is true is that it’s been a good date night, lots of laughs, lots of prospects, and an auspicious start to the festival. Bring it on NZ Comedy Festival 2013!


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