Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

05/05/2013 - 12/05/2013

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details


Comedy in New Zealand is coming of age, audiences are tuning in to TV comedians and showing up to live gigs but Theatresports has been around since before all that – and it’s still going strong. Why? Because audiences get to make the kind of comedy they want.

When Theatresports began in New Zealand it was really the only live comedy you could go see,” says performer and Artistic Director of The Improvisors, Greg Ellis. “And it has survived for so long because people get to choose the type of stuff THEY want to laugh at and not just listen to what a performer thinks is funny.

The format is pretty solidly embedded in the minds of New Zealand comedy audiences – two teams compete against each other in short comedy scenes driven by audience input.  The audience then judges the results until one team is named the winner. “It’s a classic format that also satisfies Kiwi’s love of sports,” says Ellis.

Every show mixes stalwart Improvisors pros like Ellis and veteran Kiwi funnyman Ian Harcourt with up and comers and this has always been the way. “New Zealand comics like Steve Wrigley started off with The Improvisors,” says Ellis. “So you don’t know when you see our new talent onstage whether in a few years time they might be the next big thing – it’s an exciting prospect for audiences and an exciting prospect for us veterans.

It’s also great for the family. Theatresports has always been a great night out for families and in a festival where there aren’t many options to share a laugh with the whole family Theatresports delivers. “There’s nothing like a good laugh to bring the family together,” says Ellis. And because of this popularity the company is also performing “Theatresports for Kids” during the school holidays. During the week they will do 2 shows a day, especially targeted at kids. “Kids love improv,” says Ellis. “It gives them a chance to tell adults what to do.

As part of the 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival


Dates: Sun 5 & Sun 12 May, 7 pm
Venue: Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St
Tickets: $15 – $18 (booking fees may apply)
Bookings: 04 801 7992

For the sweetest deals and hottest comedy news throughout the Festival head to  

Energetic and light with some glowing comedic moments

Review by Gabrielle Beran 06th May 2013

The premise is simple, the atmosphere casual and the laughs forthcoming. Wellington locals, The Improvisors, are taking to the stage at Circa Two every Sunday for ten weeks, to show off a few rounds of Theatresports.

The MC for the night, Julie O’Brien, warms up the audience and explains how the evening is going to work and introduces the judges: Simon Leary (technique), Loren martin (storyline) plus a random member of the audience. Then the teams take over with ‘Team One’ of Tim Jones and Aaron Alexander, and ‘Team Happy Gilmour’ of Tim Gordon, Pete Doile and Kenny King.  

The uneven team numbers seem to be a disadvantage at first but with both teams borrowing members from each other, it all evens out. It would have been nice to have some female team members, just to add a further dynamic to the line-up. 

The teams lead the audience through the various games, as announced by the MC, by explaining the rules and then asking for the necessary audience suggestions. All the team members have an easy, relaxed manner with the audience so that there is no shortage of suggestions for things to guide the games, like biblical stories, stories of how couples met, periods of history and household appliances.

These suggestions, combined with the rules of each Theatresports game and the skills of The Improvisors, make for some glowing comedic moments.

Highlights include a real-life slideshow of the history of an Elizabethan whisk and the parable of the Prodigal Son played with random lines of dialogue that are written on pieces of paper turned face down on the stage floor.

The live lighting (Uther Dean) and a brilliant pianist (Kris Finnerty) add another layer to the performances and enhance their shape and comedy.

Forget spending the next nine Sunday nights at home, head along to The Improvisors in Theatresports for an energetic, light and very fun hour and a half.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council