22 Mar 2017

Comedy Festival picks from the best and brightest Kiwi comedians

10:07 am on 22 March 2017

Not sure what to see? We asked the experts.


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Photo: Unknown

From 27 April through to the 21 of May, the New Zealand International Comedy Festival will be upon us once more.

“Oh, that’s ages away!” you may chortle. “No hurry!” you might scoff.

Sadly, this only means you have much left to learn about the concept of time and barely will you have closed your eyes in a fit of complacent tittering than you will open them to find the festival has arrived and you are pitifully ticketless to a slew of sold out shows.

With the festival programme already out and tickets available, the time to strike is now. But do not panic! To help you make wise, timely, informed choices we asked some of New Zealand’s best and brightest Comedy Festival comedians to give us their must-see picks for a festival season to remember.  



Nic Sampson

Nic Sampson Photo: Supplied

There are too many great comedians to recommend in the festival, but here are some I’m particularly excited about. 

Becky Lucas, Rhys Nicholson and Ray Badran came together last year as a lineup show. This year they’re bringing their own solo shows and we are very lucky to be getting them, tbh.

They all have very distinct styles: Becky quietly delivers these incredible, hilarious dark stories, Rhys is kind of a master of cutting observations and one-liners and Ray is quite deadpan and very funny (he had the entire festival club in Melbourne in hysterics by repeating one sentence over and over for about 5 minutes). I feel like I’m not doing them justice maybe, just go see their shows!

Lucy Roche is a Raw Quest winner from Wellington and her material is often ruthless and graphic in a way that not many people can pull off, but she nails it every time.

And Lana Walters and James Mustapic are two of my favourite new Auckland comedians who I just think are bloody fantastic and smart and inventive and funny. They’re doing a double bill as well so that’s a no-brainer.

So go see all those shows! Wow writing about other comedians feels weird!


Patch Lambert

Patch Lambert Photo: Supplied

Ed Byrne because he was one of the first comics I ever saw on TV and was just blown away by his story telling and the way he looks at the world. I bought all his DVDs (oh, to have disposable income again) and would binge watch them with mom. He's someone I could definitely relate to and is probably the reason I got into stand-up.

I finally got the chance to meet him a few years ago during the fest. Completely fan boyed out and told him much I loved a certain gag of his ... Turns out I'd got that gag confused with another comic. His reply: "Oh, that's not my joke... That's so and so's... But I really like your bit about being a female in accounting" Classic! 

But like me, he’s also a massive Pearl Jam fan, so we took control of the sound system at VKs and stayed out till about 3am singing Pearl Jam songs with Ben Hurley. Career highlight.

Justine Smith

Justine Smith

Justine Smith Photo: Supplied

Zoe Lyons is the epitome of what a comic should be. Sharp, irreverent, all of the superlatives! Her writing is so good, one-liners tucked into her stories with amazing skill. When I first saw Zoe, it was such a great affirmation of what I was doing and wanted to achieve. I really can’t wait to see this new show, it’s been too long between her visits to New Zealand. She’s also just a good person to hang out with, which make it even better that she’s coming back.

In summary; a bloody awesome funny bitch.

Livi Mitchell

Livi Mitchell (left) is one half of The Fan Brigade with Amanda Kennedy

Livi Mitchell (left) is one half of The Fan Brigade with Amanda Kennedy Photo: Supplied

James Keating tbh. The best one liner comic I have ever seen. Sorry not sorry, other one liner comics. He takes words you have used all your life & re-uses them in a way that makes you angry you've never thought of it before. And you haven't. Cause you're not James. I'm so amped to see what he does with an hour and I will be loading up on the waterproof mascara because so many tears expected. SO MANY TEARS. 

Urzila Carlson

Urzilla Carlson

Urzilla Carlson Photo: Supplied

James Keating. Also Nazeem Hussain and Gordon Southern and any rookie comic in the book! Or all of them! That's where we start. Go discover new genius first hand.

Eli Matthewson

Eli Matthewson

Eli Matthewson Photo: Supplied

Recently I met a guy who watches every movie at 2x speed so he can get through them faster (I know, wtf). You wouldn't need to do this with Rhys Nicholson, who is so rapid fire you need to see him multiple times to appreciate how just good the writing is. He's a whirlwind of biting and very funny punchlines.

Becky Lucas takes her jokes in unexpected places and they have do real sneaker attack on you, like spicy food that you weren't expecting to be spicy. But then you IMMEDIATELY need some water to cool down.

James Roque 

James Roque

James Roque Photo: Supplied

Eric Andre - Eric Andre's TV show is some of the best stuff on TV and I reckon it's ahead of it's time. I love showing people the show and watching their reactions to the clips. I reckon he's either gonna storm it here or people are going to struggle to connect, either way it's gonna be interesting as hell.

Becky Lucas - Becky has one of the funniest onstage personas I've seen in a while. She's just so damn funny.

Brynley Stent - This is Bryn's first solo fest show and I really think she's gonna surprise people. She absolutely nailed this character on Jono and Ben and I reckon she's gonna murder it in her show.

David Correos - I wanna see if he can someone top how crazy his last show is. I'm both excited and frightened at the same time.

Laura Daniel and Joseph Moore - These guys are so damn funny together and they make some super clever shit. As a fan of both music and comedy, I'm bloody in.

Ashton Brown

Ashton Brown

Ashton Brown Photo: Supplied

Setting aside shameless self-promotion for my own show - I highly recommend you check out the following rising stars in the professional comedy scene at this year’s New Zealand International Comedy Festival.

Louise Beuvink - with her dry wit and biting sarcasm, promises a fantastic hour of comedy. Brendan Kelly is an extremely engrossing and at times surreal storyteller worth seeing. Luke Callagahan puts a clever American spin on the Kiwi world he now lives in. Tim Muller is as bizarre as he is intellectual.

All these shows promise to deliver an hour of fresh, entertaining and hilarious comedy.

Rhys Mathewson

Rhys Matthewson

Rhys Matthewson Photo: Supplied

Rhys Nicholson, Becky Lucas, and Ray Badran - I saw these three in the Aussie showcase in last year's festival, and they blew me away. They're stylistically very different - Nicholson keeps jabbing the audience in the face with gags and is waiting for them to catch up, whereas Badran feels like he is in no rush to get anywhere, and Lucas can make these tremendous laughs from what's being left unsaid. It got me really excited to see what the next wave of Australian comics are doing and I can't wait to see what they do with an audience over their individual hours.

Hal Cruttenden - One of the best things in the festival for local comedians is having an overseas come in and show everyone what the benchmark is for international professional comedy. I think Hal Cruttenden is going to do that this year. He's the ultimate professional comedian and is infamous for doing four gigs a night minimum in London.  That stage time has left him airtight. I think a fair amount of New Zealand comedians do not work hard enough at stand up (I include myself in that amount), and Hal is going to leave a lot of us feeling like all our jokes are out of shape, a bit flabby.

Paul muthaeffing Foot! - A remarkably silly man. I think this is going to be one of the most surprising hours at this year's fest. I feel in love with Paul's comedy when I was front of house staff at the Gilded Balloon at the Edinburgh Fringe, and watched him every day at the Old Rope gig come on ranting and raving about topics he'd been given some 40 minutes earlier. His ridiculousness belies his incredible observations that will stay with you forever. I always think of him when I'm eating a moist cake.

Alice Brine

Alice Brine

Alice Brine Photo: Supplied

Angella Dravid is hilarious. She's dry enough to make a piece of sandpaper look like a soaking wet towel. Through this show, Angella takes you on her journey and the story actually sounds made up. It isn't. You will walk away from this feeling like you haven't lived a damn day in your life. Also, Angella said to say that she thinks you should also come to my show. It's called No One Puts Briney In The Corner. It's playing at BATS and Basement theatre, and she also said you're not allowed to publish this unless you keep that last bit in.

Tim Muller

Tim Muller

Tim Muller Photo: Unknown

I'm excited about Paul Foot and Romesh Ranganathan! (I had to google the spelling of that surname, but it's definitely F-O-O-T.)

Paul Foot is a wild ball of energy. It seems like he's parachuted in from some previous decade I can't put my finger on, and no one's informed him that enthusiasm isn't socially acceptable any more. I have no idea what he's trying to do on stage, but it's wonderful.

Romesh Ranganathan is more conventional, but just very very slick. As a pakeha dude who spent a year in India and never quite felt at home since, I relate to his 'brown on the outside, white on the inside' cultural cringe. And his name is at least 10 times cooler than yours.