Another year, another comedy fest! The well established Billy T Jams kicks off as a precursor to the festival and is also a great opportunity to check out the acts who are in the running for the Billy T award which aims to recognize and support up-and-coming comedians in the local circuit.
This year’s showcase was hosted by former winner Rhys Mathewson who was in fine form with his charmingly self-deprecating style of comedy and sharp wit. It’s really great to see those up for the award were predominantly females which says a lot about the future of New Zealand comedy.
Last year’s Best Newcomer winner and indisputable “long human” Melanie Bracewell kicked the evening off. Her archetypal woes of the single woman were given new light and humor with her quirky yet spot on analogies on usual suspect topics like dating, sex and social media.
Next to take the stage was Alice Snedden with material that was similarly standard fare yet her dry observational humor had some good comic moments. Where she really got into her stride was when sharing stories about her mum who it seems has a penchant for comedy too.
Comedians turned self-proclaimed pop stars Two Hearts (Laura Daniel and Joseph Moore) closed the first half with their irreverent brand of musical satire. Though pairing music and comedy is not new, this boisterous duo easily entertain with their delightfully catchy and facetious tunes about love (the fan girling type) and slutty ghosts.
Donna Brookbanks‘ elaborate introduction which was like a reverse crowd surf was probably a bit overkill but it is very much part of her schtick. Her socially awkward persona couple well with the physical theatre she brings to her performance for an oddly endearing set.
James Malcolm rounds up the cast of this year’s nominees with casual banter about being a gay icon (according to a teenage fan) which he uses as a springboard to crowd test his gaydar and also a rather harrowing tidbit about his over-sharing mother. While he doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the table, his material had good comedic value.
Last year’s winner Angella Dravid closes the show with her unique brand of low key comedic storytelling. There is something really appealing about her trademark nervous disposition and awkward demeanor – you can’t help but be drawn in to her anecdotes.
All in all, it was a good laugh out that has got the laughing muscles itching for more. Bring on the festival!
All these 2018 nominees have solo shows at the upcoming New Zealand International Comedy Festival which kicks off from 26 April for just over 3 weeks. Check out comedyfestival.co.nz for dates and more info.