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Nominees for the 2019 Billy T Awards Announced

Nominees for the 2019 Billy T Awards Announced And Electric Kiwi Join the Comedy Festival Family

The New Zealand Comedy Trust are excited to announce not only some seriously talented comedians with a broad range of fresh voices as nominees for the 2019 Billy T Award, but also that the good folk at Electric Kiwihave come on board to support both the Billy T Award, Billy T Jams and our celebration of the best of Kiwi comedy at Last Laughs. Choice one Electric Kiwi!

“Part of being a good Kiwi is getting behind other Kiwis doing cool things” says Andrew Cooper, GM Brand at Electric Kiwi. “As an independent challenger ourselves we’re proud to get behind the next big names in Kiwi comedy”

Over the last two nights The Classic hosted performances from all the applicants for the 2019 Billy T Award. Each of the 18 comedians presented a fantastic range of creative inspiration in their show pitches and on stage their performances were of an extremely high standard making the judges decisions exceptionally difficult.

The five nominees for the 2019 Billy T Award were selected on their proven comedic ability; talent; dedication; current form and outstanding potential.

It’s with great pleasure the NZ Comedy Trust announce that the nominees for the 2019 Billy T Award are:

Donna Brookbanks

James Mustapic

Kura Forrester

Ray Shipley

Tom Sainsbury

The five nominees will all perform at the Electric Kiwi Billy T Jams on Friday 22nd February, hosted by this year’s winner Melanie Bracewell. They will also perform their own one-hour shows in next year’s NZ International Comedy Festival from 2-26 May 2019, where they will be judged on all aspects of their performance. The award presentation is at the Electric Kiwi Last Laughs on Sunday 26 May 2019.

This year’s expert panel of five judges, who have a wide range of combined experience across the comedy, television and theatre industries, are Justine Smith (Comedian and Billy T Winner 2007), Rob Brown (Producer of 7 Days), Sophie Dowson (TV and Theatre Producer), Kylie Sealy (Former Producer and MD of the NZ International Comedy Festival, and current NZ Comedy Trust Chair) and Steve King (Writer, Producer and Director at Corporate Media, and original founding member of The Classic).

Billy T James changed the face of comedy in Aotearoa, forging a hugely successful career out of making people laugh through his wide variety of live performances and TV shows. The New Zealand Comedy Trust is proud to celebrate his memory and achievements, supporting up-and-coming comedians with the outstanding potential to take their comedy career to the next level with the Billy T Award.

You can see all the awesome Billy T Award nominees in action at the Electric Kiwi Billy T Jams on Friday 22 February 2019 at Rangatira in Q Theatre, Auckland, hosted by Melanie Bracewell (The Project) and with a special performance by 2018 Fred Award winner for Best NZ Show, Chris Parker (The Male Gayz, Stake Out & Jono and Ben). Earlybird tickets (over 25% saving) are on sale now from

Electric Kiwi Billy T Jams
Friday 22 February 2019
Rangatira, Q Theatre, Auckland
Earlybird tickets on sale now $19.90 +bf

NZ International Comedy Festival
2 – 26 May 2019
Auckland and Wellington

Electric Kiwi Last Laughs
Sunday 26 May 2019

Donna Brookbanks
Donna Brookbanks is a stand-up comedian, writer and actor based in Auckland. She was a Billy T nominee 2018 and sold out her 2nd solo show ‘You Do You Babes’ in Wellington and Auckland. She was nominated for Best Newcomer in 2017 for her first show ‘Cat Lady in Waiting’. Donna has recently appeared on 7 Days, Funny Girls and Jono and Ben. She has just returned from performing at The Comedy Store and Fringe Festival in Sydney.

James Mustapic
James Mustapic (known for his web series’ Shorty Street Scandal and Repressed Memories) has a satirical, dry style and makes cutting observations which come in surprising contrast to his soft spoken presence. Known for sharing unapologetic stories of people who have done him wrong over the years, he enjoys candidly expressing his emotions in a self-deprecating manner. James doesn’t pull any punches and treads the line between polite and risky. James was born in Canada but moved to Dunedin when he was two.

Kura Forrester
Kura Forrester was born and raised in Wellington and is of Ngati Porou decent. Kura has worked throughout the country as an actor, writer, comedian and maker of funny things since 2008. In 2014 Kura studied with master clown and professor of theatre, Philippe Gaulier. Kura debuted her solo show Tiki Tourin the 2015 New Zealand International Comedy Festival and gained a nomination for best new comer that year. Kura loves to play characters and has enjoyed starring on Jono and Ben recently as one of her favsBronson Atarangi. Kura also belongs to improvised comedy group Snort.

Ray Shipley
Ray Shipley is a comedian and poet, but mainly works at a very sunny library in Christchurch, teaching people how to delete their enemies from Facebook and use the printer/photocopier. Since starting stand-up two years ago, Ray has been awarded ‘Highly Commended’ at the 2017 National Raw Comedy Quest Final, and this year was nominated for ‘Best Newcomer’ for their show He & She at the 2018 NZ International Comedy Festival. Ray is also the current Christchurch Poetry Slam Champion.

Tom Sainsbury
Tom has acted in New Zealand feature films Pork Pie and Waru and the television shows Wellington Paranormal, Shortland Street, Filthy Rich, Bad Seed, Hamish and Andy: True Story and Jono and Ben. In 2017 he rose to prominence doing short form video content, satirising New Zealand politicians using the Snapchat App. In 2018 Tom began doing similar political content for Australia’s Comedy Central. In 2018 he also performed in the theatre productions of Wigging Out, Gays in Space and Giggly Gerties. In 2016 and 2018, Tom wrote and directed the winning short films in the 48hour film competition. Tom is originally from Matamata.


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