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The Wellington Comedy Festival


1st – 18th May 2002

Expect two and a half weeks of roars, giggles, belly laughs, titters, guffaws, chuckles, sniggers, cackles, howls and rolling in the aisles! The Comedy Festival has something on offer for everyone’s laugh palette – from stand up to the latest international smash hit plays.

This year’s Comedy Festival is an initiative from four Wellington venues – Downstage, BATS, Circa and Indigo Bar and Venue. These venues bandied together when it was announced in November that the Auckland based Laugh Festival would not be returning to Wellington in 2002.

“A much anticipated highlight of the Wellington Arts calendar we thought it would be a great shame not to offer Wellingtonians their yearly dose of laughter”, says BATS programmer Paula van Beek. “We are pleased to not only offer the best comedy from Wellington and around the country, but are hosts to International comedians as well.”

Some of this year’s highlights include:
The 4 Noels (Australia)
Ross Noble (UK)
Sister Superwoman (NZ) performed and written by Josie Ryan (yes, Lucy Lawless’ sister)
Flight of the Conchords (NZ) before they jet their way to Edinburgh
The Swimming Lessons (NZ) fresh from their Auckland season at Silo
Life x 3 by Yasmina Reza
And two Billy T nominees: Benjamin Crellin in Pisstaker and Tarun Mohanbhai in Deranged Marriage.

A full programme of events will be released to the public in early April.

The following information includes all acts, dates and is listed by venue. A chronological running order is also attached. Press releases, biographies, images and reviews are available on request.

Please note that I am publicising the Festival, not individual acts. So, don’t be surprised if you receive calls, emails and faxes from individual shows. If you would like to arrange interviews I am more than happy to act as point of contact. The following people are also points of contact for acts at their respective venues.


Wild Man Eyes
Written and performed by Duncan Sarkies
Season: 1 – 4 May
Time: 7pm
Tickets: $20/$25

Greg Wikstrom presents the Imagelab season of Wild Man Eyes

Returning after a sell-out season at BATS and highly successful seasons in Dunedin and the Bay of Islands, Wild Man Eyes, is based on the award winning book ‘Stray Thoughts and Nose Bleeds'. This is a truly unique show capturing the twisted brain of Duncan Sarkies. The Evening Post called it “hilarious”, the Sunday Star Times called it “powerful” and the Capital Times called it a “poignant, pointed and funny performance prose from a writer who really is a literary maestro”. And audiences loved it. Check out for more stray thoughts.

"He has a gift for wild, surreal and dark comedy, but surprises with touched
of romanticism, wistfulness even. The man is a genius, and a performer too,
lighting up like a 250 watt bulb on stage" - The Dominion

Folk the World
Company: Flight of the Conchords
Season: 1 – 4 May
Time: 8.30pm
Tickets: $15/$20

“an ecstatic audience constantly begged for more” Evening Post, NZ

Flight of the Conchords” The Greek Times, Greece

Flight of the Conchords perform a return season of their 2001 sell out show Folk the World. ‘The Conchords’ (aka F O the C) - say they’re moving away form their digi bongo rock musical comedy to concentrate on more digital rock based bongo comedy music. This will be their last Wellington performance before they jet off (pacific class) to the International Comedy Folk performer/composer convention in Reykjavik and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Last year the show sold out before it opened so book early.

Sister Wonderwoman
Company: Josie Ryan sponsored by Holden Astra
Season: 6 – 8 May
Time: 7pm
Tickets: $15/$20

Retro glamour, glitz and pathos guaranteed!

A candid expose of the lives and loves of a Hollywood superhero has-been and her humdrum homespun sister from the sticks.

"It is clever, funny and very sad." NZ Herald

"Ryan's script is witty and probing. Her performance sparkles with energy
and enthusiasm and she easily rides the switches of persona, always with a
touch of wicked irony." The Scotsman

"Josie Ryan's one-person show 'Sister WonderWoman' is a clever and sensitive
work, tightly written and brilliantly performed." NBR

"luscious and complex 'Sister WonderWoman' with Josie Ryan" NZ Herald

Slackers Playtime
Ross Noble
Season: 6 – 11 May
Time: 8.30pm
Tickets: $20/$25

“Simply the most exciting stand-up at work today.” Time Out, London

At just 25 years old, award-winning Geordie stand-up comedian Ross Noble has already established himself as one of the hottest, most sought after performers on the international circuit. Here is a comedian who has a gift for improvising hysterical, elaborate routines which most stand-ups could only dream of. Noble appeared in Wellington 2 years ago and impressed audiences with his skill and presence. He has just been awarded the inaugural Chortle Award beating Bill Bailey and Rich Hall to the post.

“Noble’s remarkable ability to create dazzling word pictures on the spot appears to have entered a new dimension. This was a towering performance by a comedian who has already become a permanent member of the premier league.” Time Out

“Eddie Izzard can do anthropomorphic whimsy. Billy Connolly can do detail, vintage Vic Reeves could do Northern surrealism. Nobel does all three”. Evening Standard

Company: Benjamin Crellin
Season: 9 – 11 May
Time: 7pm
Tickets: $15/$20

Billy T nominee 2002.

Where is the Kiwi sense of Humour? Now is the time we need it more than ever. Now is time to let it shine through our culture and have laughter cleanse and bond our people. Now is the time to divorce our obsession with political correctness and learn to once again mock each other in the free spirited, good natured, down to earth manner we are famous for.

Let the darkness end and the pisstaking begin…

“One of the best of the stand-up playstation generation” Evening Post

“A great act, loved it” Ben Elton

A Night at Fat Willy’s
Company: The 4 Noels
Season: 13 – 18 May
Time: 7pm
Tickets: $20/$25

Everyone wants a slice of Fat Willy’s pie. The cops are as crooked as a dead dog’s leg and illegal booze runs like an underground sewer. It’s The Untouchables meets The Cotton Club meets The Marx Brothers on acid.

This will be the Noel’s fourth return home with yet another hysterical show to follow in the footsteps of Brain the Musical, Nohj Namerof, The Magnificent 17 and last year’s Downstage hit, Doomriders.
“Their particular brand of humour has developed a large following and it’s not difficult to see why” The Evening Post
“gloriously cacophonic comedy of The Goons and Mel Brooks” The Dominion
“inimitable and outrageous and one of the most entertaining nights out you could hope for” Capital Times

Double Trouble
Brendhan Lovegrove & Phil Nichols
Season: 13 – 18 May
Time: 8.30pm
Tickets: $20/$25

Love him or hate him, Brendhan Lovegrove is one of the very best New Zealand comedians. His shows at Downstage last year sold out before he even opened. His foray into the UK last year paid off big time with top comedy agents chasing him and appearances all over the UK and Amsterdam. He has taken NZ comedy where it has never gone before and is leaving audiences gasping for more.

“Brilliantly twisted” The Scotsman

Winner of the 1998 Time Out Comedy Award, Phil Nichols is a rising star in the UK comedy circuit. Imagine a Tasmanian devil with a guitar, mix in some wickedly funny songs and superb improvisational skills.

“If you can understand English and you are allowed out of the house alone you have no excuse to miss this show.” Three weeks

Late Laughs
Bookings: door sales only
Season: 3-4, 10-11, 17-18 May
Time: 11pm
Tickets: $10 door sales

Once again Downstage is your comedy lounge. 5 comedians ruck it up every Friday and Saturday night of The Comedy Festival. Join us for over an hour of hilarity as a stellar array of comedians make you laugh.

Bar and table service available.

May 1 – 18 (no shows Sunday)

It’s comedy time again with BATS being home to 9 local and national comedy acts for two and a half weeks of comic mayhem. See Wellington’s favourite comedians side by side with the freshest talent Auckland has on offer. Short films, stand up, shock comedy and more.

Lead in show:

The Swimming Lessons
Written by Jacqueline van Beek.
Wed 25th April – Sat 4th May
Fresh from the Silo Theatre’s New Works season in Auckland The Swimming Lessons is a new bittersweet comedy. Lizzie can float but she can't swim. Her mother is fermenting to death. Her sister is in China searching for her father. Her boyfriend hasn't fallen in love with her yet. Lizzie can't swim but she is very keen to learn. Directed by Emma Willis. Starring Jackie van Beek, Miranda Manasiadis, Celia Nicholson and Brett Stewart.

2 Funny
Season: Preview Tuesday 30 April
Wednesday 1 - Saturday 4 May
Time: 7pm
Tickets: $15 Waged / $12 Concession / $10 Group
Cathie Sheat and Caroline E. Waltz are 2 Funny for words. Well actually they have 2 Funny words to describe their show – they’re ‘too funny!’ And there’s two of them. Their most recent appearances have been in Hen’s Teeth, the Fringe, Indigo, BATS and Pound. See them in tandem (that’d be 2 then) with sketches, stand-up, characters and general silliness with an X-rating and a cup of (two) tea.

The Eliminator
Season: Thursday 2 - Saturday 4 May
Time: 10pm
Tickets: $12 Waged / $10 Concession
The Improv Bandits proudly present an all new, action packed show - The Eliminator. It’s an arena where only the strong survive and the weak get wet!
The Eliminator sees a selection of Wellington’s finest improvisers go head to head in a clash of comic mayhem. Individuals take turns in becoming a Director, directing their fellow performers as they try to win the smiles and tears of the wilful audience. At the end of the night the audience decides who gets to become The Eliminator – and use the ceremonial high-powered water weapon on their opponents!
Choose life? Choose a job? Choose a career? Choose something else. The Eliminator. Umbrellas optional.

Flash Harry’s Film Feast
Season: Wednesday 8 & Thursday 9 May
Time: 7pm
Tickets: $10
Flash Harry’s Film Feast dives headfirst into the pool of Wellington's funny film talent and dodging used plasters and clumps of hair, picks up the glinting coins from the bottom with a collection of humorous short films.
Gags, scenes and crazy camera work are all used to hilarious effect and will have you rolling down the aisles like so many hairy Jaffas. A Romp!!

Abigail’s Party
Season:Friday 10 - Saturday 25 May
Time: 6.30pm
Tickets: $14 Waged / $12 Concession
By Mike Leigh
Directed by Vanessa Byrnes
Cast includes Lauren Jackson, Biddy O'Donnell, Peter Rutherford, Aaron Alexander and Jane Donald.
This hilarious dark comedy, by one of Britain's most acclaimed writer\directors (Secrets and Lies / Career Girls), had a sell out season last year in London.
Bev, a bored housewife and keen social climber, creates the perfect party atmosphere. However, the thin veneer of cocktail politeness is quickly stripped away and class war ensues. Will Bev come out on top? Will either of the men get a word in edgeways? This class satire is as relevant as it was when first produced, and just as funny.

Totally Offensive Or Your Money Back
Season: preview Monday 6 May
Tuesday 7 - Saturday 11th
Time: 8:30pm
Tickets: $14 / $10

Nick Ward (Stickmen) and cohorts who moonlight as Jawless Fish are back with a new and equally offensive show. Their last outing in 'Kill Whitey' was the surprise hit of the 2000 Fringe. Reviewers have said: "rude, crude and incredibly funny" , "politically incorrect and trashy in the extreme", and "totally offensive or your money back."

Deranged Marriage
Season:Thursday 9 - Saturday 11 May
Time: 10pm
Tickets: $15 Waged / $12 Concession
2002 Billy T Nominee Tarun Mohanbhai takes you on a journey in the life of Raj a young urban New Zealand Indian who deals with the social pressures of his culture in this western society. The main topic of the show is the Arranged Marriage where Raj will go to extreme lengths to avoid been getting married off.
Come join Tarun in this funny as f**k story about the trials an tribulations of Raj. You will be made to laugh and only good can come from that!

Sully O’Sullivan is Hori-fied
14-18 May
$14/ $10

An exponent of interactive stand-up, in "Hori-fied", Sully O'Sullivan combines his award winning comedy with vocal and physical audience participation. This year the audience is welcomed into the joker’s domain, the domain of jugs of beer and leaners of patrons, for classless humour that iconises the kiwi essence and comes perilously close to committing slander.
Warning! Show Contains: racial stereotypes, geographical stereotypes, the breaking of types of stereo, kiwi icons, aussie icons, bad language, bad language aimed at the aussie icons, audience interaction, tall stories, and stories that appear tall but actually did happen.

An evening with Wills and Spencer
Season: Thursday 16 - Saturday 18 May
Time: 10pm
Tickets: $12 Waged / $10 Concession
"You'll die laughing or they'll die trying"
"4-inch nail biting comedy"
Sam Wills and Ruth Spencer have been performing their unique fusion of shock
comedy, traditional circus skill and vaudeville style for two years. "An
Evening with Wills and Spencer" is an original comedy show, featuring plate
spinning, straightjacket escape, the world's most disgusting magic trick,
and walking on broken glass. Wills and Spencer appeared at the 2000
Auckland Laugh! Festival, and Sam has twice performed on TV2's Pulp Comedy.
They are currently the resident comedians at Auckland's Sky City Casino.

Indigo Bar and Venue

Quest for the Fest Wellington
Company: Very Serious Comedy
Booking: Door sales
Season: Wed 1st May- Fri 3rd May
Time: 7:00pm
Tickets: $5

“Did you know, speaking in public is the number 1 fear in all the world, number 2 is death, this means people would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy”
Jerry Seinfeld

Join Wellington’s best new faces as they battle it out to win the Wellington leg of New Zealand’s toughest and most prestigious rookie competition, Quest for the Fest. The winner will be showered with praise, the loser will be taunted and laughed at, so it’s good no matter how you look at it. Hosted by award winning local comic, Ben Hurley, this is comedy as it should be, raw and unpredictable.

Company: Very Serious Comedy
Booking: Door sales
Season: Thur 2nd May- Sat 4th May
Time: 8:30pm
Tickets: $10 / $8

Enter the world of the “Comedion” it is a strange and funny place. “Comedion” features the Bad boys and girls of Wellington Comedy in a show that will send you into another dimension. It is a world of smoke filled rooms, late night drinking in a dark underbelly of society where “Comedion” hunt for laughs to stay alive.

Join the best comedic talents in the Capital for an evening you will never forget. Starring Wellington comedy favourites Fiona Mackinnon, Rachel Callinan, Ben Hurley, mrs.peacock and Ben Easte all hosted by the evil “Comedion” master, Steve Wrigley.

If you haven’t experienced Wellington’s comedy talent before or you just want to laugh as much as the last time, then “Comedion” is the show for you.

“They will be the very best, like no one ever was……”

mrs.peacock’s Royal Variety Performance
Company: mrs.peacock Productions
Booking: Door sales
Season: Sunday 5th May
Time: 8pm
Tickets: $12 / $10

For the first time ever (and for one night only), musical comedy duo mrs.peacock
are unleashed on an unsuspecting audience in their very own show - mrs.peacock’s Royal Variety Performance.

Hear new songs. Hear old songs. Hear some stuff that isn’t very musical at all.
Even make some requests if you like.

We wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you got all moist at the thought of it.
For more info, or to join the mrs.peacock mailing list, email

DB Does Dallas
Company: Comedy NZ ltd
Booking: Ticketek and Door sales
Season: Tue 7th May- Sat 11th May
Time: 9:00pm
Tickets: $10 / $8 Groups of 4 or more $8

“Where I come from a Porn Star would be a noble profession. Truck drivers were strangers from other worlds and dairy owners knew all. There were no new age workshops, no cafés, no libraries...

My show is a celebration of having lived through the nineties without being completely neutered. It is a collection of naughty bits for those who like a good laugh. It will offend those of you who like to be offended but I’d rather you went to your support groups.

My guest act, Gish, is a guitar man of serious talent. He will show me up as the musical retard I am. Lucky it’s comedy. Together we will deliver an hour of fast, filthy, and of course funny, songs, jokes, poems and stories.

“If you like your comedy hardcore, you’ll be stoked you came. If not, go watch theatre sports or something.” DB Brown.

Not a Penis Monologue
Company: Mr Fungus Productions
Booking: Door sales
Season: Wed 15th May – Sat 18th May
Time: 7:00pm
Tickets: $12 /$10

Fergus Aitken investigates some of life's easier questions. Politics, religion, rave culture, sex in the windy city, advertising, the media and our language are all topics Fergus is likely to delve into. But he's unlikely to even mention his genitals, or anyone else's for that matter, because genitals are not really worth dwelling on and you all deserve so much better than that. In fact, genitals are only worth dwelling on if you happen to be a flea.
Comedy for thinking adults, from the creator of award-winning international comic mime, MR FUNGUS.
"The weird and wonderful Fergus Aitken made my friend laugh so hard she got hiccups... Be warned!" THE DOMINION
"Hilarious" NZ NEWS UK

The Neon Outlaw
Company: Holly Shanahan Productions
Booking: Door sales
Season: Wed 15th May- Sat 18th May
Time: 8:30pm
Tickets: $12 / $10

Rhys Darby is back and it’s the year 2002 AD.
From simple dreams of designing fashion to stepping outside into the real world

Rhys dons his best homemade designer outfit. Granddad supplies him with some makeshift weapons…
Now, with strict instructions to be home before dinner, Rhys ventures forth into the completely known……But now he is…THE NEON OUTLAW.

The seemingly sane seems dark and devious. Behind every corner trouble waiting to happen…
The world was a fairly normal place until Darby stepped outside!
Award winning international jet setting comedian Rhys Darby brings you all new adventure stories. All the action, all the sounds, the fashion and the fury!
His stand-up theatrics will blow you away.

“Rhys Darby is amazing.” NZ Herald


Take a Chance on Me
Company: by Roger Hall
Venue: Circa Theatre
Bookings: 8017992
Season: until 4 May
Time: Wed 6.30pm, Thurs, Fri, Sat 8pm
Tickets:$30 waged / $24 concession / $26 group 10+

Company: by Dave Smith
Venue: Circa Studio
Bookings: 8017992
Season: 3 May - 1 June
Time: Tues - Sat 7.30pm, Sunday 4.30pm
Tickets: $30 full; $24 concession; $26 group 10+; Friends $22 to 16 May
$16 Previews - Friday 3 May 7.30pm; Sunday 5 May 4.30pm

An Apocalyptic Comedy. A Nuclear winter is about to descend on the Summer Holidays and with the PM climbing Kilimanjaro it is left to the most incompetent incumbents at the Beehive to cope with global disaster. Minor MPs from all the parties huddle in the Prime Minister’s office to deal with the most important issue facing what is left of the Western World. When New Zealand really is the last place on earth will MP's still be able to redeem their air points?
Sometimes the last place on earth, is the first place to go.

Whose Ring is it anyway?
Company: The Improvisors
Season: 5, 6, 12, 13 May
Time: 7.30pm

Quests, Wizards, fell villains and suggestions from
the audience - The Improvisors tinker with Tolkein,
potter with Harry and take on the entire fantasy genre
without an oscar nomination or a $360 million dollar
budget in sight

Something strange and fell lurks at the middle of the Land of Comedy. A determined band of adventurous souls are called to meet the challenge

The Improvisors - a band of doughty, laugh hardened warriors sally forth in nightly quest to pursue the evil for only laughter will win them victory.

The path they walk is a glorious one - trodden before by great word wizards Tolkein and CS Lewis and mighty warriors like Conan and Xena. And they do not walk alone - admitted into the fellowship are the audience sustaining our travellers with suggestions and pitfalls along the way.

The Improvisors will surmount dark goblins, dank caves or even elven
princesses, any obstacle thrown at them as they pursue their quest. Using only the magic of improvisation, their own wits and the bitter experience of
failed "Lord of the Rings" auditions to guide them, the fellowship will pursue their journey until the darkness has been defeated by golden peals of laughter.

Late Night Theatresports
Company: The Improvisors
Season: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 May
Time: 10.00pm
Venue: Circa Studio
Bookings: 8017992
Tickets: $15 full; $12 concession

Life x 3
Company: by Yasmina Reza
Season: 10 May - 8 June
Time: Tues- Wed 6.30, Thurs- Sat 8pm, Sun 4pm
Venue: Circa Studio
Bookings: 8017992
Tickets: $30 full; $24 concession; $26 group 10+ ; Friends $22 to 23 May
$16 Previews - Friday 10 May 8pm; Sunday 12 May 4pm

Starring Donna Akersten, Michele Amas, Ken Blackburn, Nick Blake

The dinner guests from hell serve up three times the pleasure! in Yasmina Reza’s (ART) latest smash hit comedy. Henri & Sonia are putting their son to bed when an unexpected knock at the door throws them into disarray – Hubert & Ines have arrived for dinner, a day earlier than expected! In this delightful comedy we see three variations of this socially embarrassing situation – each with a dramatically different outcome. As the evening degenerates Yasmina Reza cleverly and elegantly blends acute observation with high comedy in an hilarious and poignant examination of our public pretensions, secret vices and private imperfections.
“A delightful, highly original comedy of manners …Life X 3 is a seriously amusing night out!” – Eve Standard
“This extraordinary play is brisk, brittle, brilliantly funny and lethally accurate” – Sun Times UK
“Full of suspense, false clues and unexpected plot changes … brilliant!” - DLRS, Paris

Chronological Listing:

Take A Chance On Me Circa Roger Hall
The Swimming Lessons BATS Jackie van Beek
dir. Emma Willis
2 Funny BATS Cathie sheet +
Caroline E Waltz
Wild Man Eyes Downstage Duncan Sarkies
Quest of the Fest Indigo stand up competition
Folk the World Downstage Flight of the Cohchords
The Eliminator BATS Improv Bandits
Comedion Indigo Ben Hurley -stand up
Meltdown Circa dir Danny Mulheron
Late Laughs Downstage Fridays –acts vary
Mrs Peacock's Royal Variety Performance Indigo music duo
Whose Ring is it Anyway? Circa improvised comedy
Late Night Theatresports Circa improvised comedy
Sister Wonderwoman Downstage play by Josie Ryan
Totally Offensive Or Your Money Back BATS Nick Ward
Ross Noble Downstage stand up
DB Does Dallas Indigo DB Brown + guest
Flash Harry's Film Fest BATS short films Stan Alley
Benjamin Crellin Downstage stand up
Derranged Marriage BATS Tarun M
Abigail's Party BATS wr. Mike Leigh
dir, Vanessa Byrnes
Life Times Three Circa wr, Yasmaen Blyth
A Night at Fat Willy's Downstage 4 Noels
Brendan & Phil Downstage Brendan Lovegrove + guest
Sully O'Sullivan is Hori-fied BATS Sully O + guests
Not a Penis Monologue Indigo Mr Fungus
The Neon Outlaw Indigo Rhys Darby
An Evening with Wills & Spencer BATS shock comedy –Sam Wills

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