VK's Comedy & Blues Bar, 60 Dixon St, Wellington

12/05/2015 - 16/05/2015

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

05/05/2015 - 09/05/2015

NZ International Comedy Festival 2015

Production Details

Media release: For immediate release


Award-winning comedian James Nokise is back from travelling the world and boy does he have some pearlers for you! His latest show Big Words is set to rock audiences at Auckland’s Basement Theatre 5 – 9 of May as well as in his hometown of Wellington at VK’s 12– 16 of May.
New York, Perth, Fiji, Invercargill – James Nokise’s been on the road, sharing his stories about New Zealand’s Gangs and Gangstas. He’s had adventures, learned new sayings, and made this hilarious new show about the strange people, places, and the languages that tie us together.
You’ll recognise James from his time on the small screen as part of  TV3’s After Hours, Maori TV’s Waitangi Comedy Boil up & Crack up, TV 3 Comedy Gala and Ben and Steve World Famous in… Over the last couple of years he’s been killing the festival seasons in Edinburgh and Adelaide, commentating for Radio Live and 531 PI, as well as writing for Wellington’s political satire series, Public Service Announcements. Two time Billy T Nominee, 2013 FRED Nominee and 2013’s Best Male Comedian (NZ Comedy Guild Awards) and fresh back from sell-out season in Perth he’ll be one to watch this festival for sure.
So, come get “crunked” with the world’s most travelled Welsh/Samoan and professional “skux”. Because, as the Aussies say “We’re not here to f*** spiders”.
“This Wellingtonian has got all the moves” – Metro
Dates: Tuesday 5 – Saturday 9 May, 7pm
Venue: The Basement, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland
Tickets: $22.50 – $25 (booking fees apply)
Bookings: 0508 ITICKET (484 253) // basement.co.nz
Dates: Tuesday 12 – Saturday 16 May, 7pm
Venue: VK’s, Corner of Dixon Street and Cuba Mall, Wellington
Tickets: $22.50 – $25 (booking fees apply)
Bookings: 0800 TICKETEK (842 538) // ticketek.co.nz


  • The Thursday 7 May, 7.00pm show in Auckland will be interpreted into NZ Sign Language for the Deaf community by an iSign NZSL Interpreter 


Stand-up comedy , Comedy ,

1 hour

Reflective, enjoyable and intellectual comedy

Review by Maraea Rakuraku 13th May 2015

James Nokise starts his set off in typical Wellingtoncentric fashion, even if it does take a while to warm up (maybe 5 minutes). He is in the comfortable position of traversing worlds, like literally, be it his dual whakapapa, which is an endless gag of Samoan and Welsh stereotypes, to gangs (So-So Gangsta) to politics (PSA). Having seen a few of his gigs now, is there anyone else on the NZ comedy circuit making the sharp observations he does about politics?

Generally, while Nokise could let us languish in the ‘all politicians suck territory’, there is some substance beyond that. This is observational material that has depth to it. For example, in defining marginalisation Nokise could take the obvious route but instead he describes a real life scenario, its context in the current political climate and furthermore the role ‘big words’ play in well, marginalisation.

Everything he does is layered with politics. It’s obvious this is what he spends a lot of time thinking about, though I suspect it’s actually just part of his DNA. When politics is presented like this, I don’t resent it and given the way the audience responds, they don’t either. 

Nokise is observational but with a conscience. And over the past forever he has been touring the country and the world, which of course provides fodder for his shows. He is boss at one-liners, can carry a story and has an ease on stage that I can only assume is the confidence earned from an unrelenting work ethic, travelling, playing to all sizes of crowds and venues, pulling on all your resources and, well, practice.

Big Words is powerpoint before there was PowerPoint. It’s a slideshow without being a slideshow. This is pared back and relies absolutely on Nokise’s ability to keep it flowing from the Nokise arsenal. There are a couple of times where I wonder: where he is heading with this? That has nothing to do with the pace or that I am actually learning something. Being the consummate professional that he is, he is able to pull it all together tying in all those threads.

The premise is that big words can be intimidating and hilarious and hilariously intimidating and well actually just plain intimidating. There is an obvious love of language here as we’re treated to various place names, their meanings and how that translates into a sociological context. Which of course means it’s perfect for ‘taking the piss’ and, in some cases, reflecting upon.  

How he gets it all out without it sounding like a lecture is commendable. Nokise even jokes about his whānau who are a little over that big brain and respond with the levelling, “Why would I pay to see you when I can listen to you here, right now, in the kitchen?” comeback. Been there. Heard that.  

If you want an hour of reflective, enjoyable and intellectual comedy, Big Words is the gig for you.


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Suave, clever and funny

Review by Stewart Sowman-Lund 06th May 2015

James Nokise is quickly becoming one of New Zealand’s biggest and most reliable stand-ups. While you may not see him on 7 Days or Jono and Ben, which seems to be how many people get to know our local comics, it has been amazing to witness the annual growth of this highly seasoned performer.

Big Words, Nokise’s latest offering, is a very apt title for this show, given it features a lot of big words. The show is structured around some of his favourites and he uses this to string together anecdotes from his travels around the United States, Australia and New Zealand. While this structure sometimes seems a little forced, for the most part it is both funny and clever.

With a suave, debonair charm, Nokise’s style on stage is almost reminiscent of Russell Brand (with a touch of the Hutt) and his skill at dealing with political issues and topical themes backs this up. Nokise never shies from tackling big political issues or expressing his own opinions, and this is where the show particularly shines. The audience lap up his shrewd commentary on everything from Ponytail-gate to the recent ANZAC Day celebrations in Wellington.

While Big Words is a success on many levels, it is not perfect and this comes down to issues with performance and content. While almost every punchline gets a laugh, some fall disappointingly flat and this might be to do with flow. The performance, at times, feels jagged and a bit rough around the edges, but with time to further adjust and hone it through the Comedy Festival and beyond, these flaws will certainly be remedied.

There is clearly no question about Nokise’s ability to be gut-bustingly hilarious, it just isn’t achieved as regularly as it perhaps could be.

That said, Big Words is a brilliant chance to see one of this country’s best local comedians who is still heading towards the top of his game. I certainly cannot wait to see where his career will head next.


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