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Big Kiwi Talent Takes Centre Stage In The 2021 NZ Comedy Fest

New Zealand Comedy Trust Presents
April 30 – May 23, 2021

Get ready for a great line-up of laughs as the full programme for the 2021 NZ Intl. Comedy Festival with Best Foods Mayo has launched! Audiences will be treated to a feast of comedic treats, with tickets on-sale from midday Thursday 18 March for the banquet of offerings from the best Kiwi comedians, back in venues live across Auckland and Wellington for three weeks in May.

With homegrown comedy on a meteoric rise, Aotearoa’s local heroes are rightfully claiming the spotlight in the Comedy Fest. It’s no secret that Kiwi comedy has been punching above its weight for a long time, in terms of the size of the scene and the incredible talent within it. Now is the perfect time to celebrate the local voices packing the programme, with a collection of shows of the same sky-high calibre the Fest has attracted for years. The 2021 line-up will showcase a huge range of comedy styles, with stories and great jokes reflecting our current world.

Shaking up the format for a very special year, the 2021 Fest is being presented in specialty seasons, making it easy for audiences to find their own special selection of shows for a world-class comedy experience this May. The Comedy Fest Seasons are broken down into: Keen Observers, Party Shows, Crowd Pleasers, Trust Us, Something to Say, Good Weird, Billys, Yes and…, and Fresh Faces.

The Best Foods Comedy Gala hosted by the inimitable Justine Smith, coming to both Auckland and Wellington, is just one of the annual delights from the New Zealand Comedy Trust, now programmed in their own Trust Us season full of great comedy experiences and stellar line-ups!

Producers of the Festival, the NZ Comedy Trust, are excited to introduce some new shows in 2021. The Great Comedy Debate, brought to life with generous support from law firm Lane Neave, will be hosted by the sharp-witted Te Radar. Teams will include Hayley Sproull, Laura Daniel, Joseph Moore, Guy Montgomery and more special guests to be announced. Come prepared for good points, hot takes and wild yarns over the most debatable moot of the moment: Technology will save us!

They’ve been heating up your feeds with the funniest, freshest content around - especially during lockdowns, and now they’re hitting the stage this Comedy Fest! Going Live celebrates these comedy Instagram icons and talented TikTok stars for a talk-show inspired night of IRL laughs. This will be a chance for fans to see their faves up close and personal. There will be two performances happening, first on 11 May at Q Theatre and then 16 May at Te Pou Theatre, in Henderson.

Returning in 2021 are a series of Trust produced line-up shows with truly something for everyone in the Trust Us season. The always popular Basement Theatre Preview Show will whet your comedic whistle with a tease of their programme before the Fest kicks into high gear; Chris Parker gets his goof on to host a show for our smallest comedy fans in Stand Up For Kids, tailored to 4-8 year olds; Wellingtonians get their own curated line-up of Festival excellence with the weekly blockbuster Late Laughs; and the Festival closes with a bang as the 2021 Fred and Billy T Awards are handed out after live performances at Electric Kiwi Last Laughs, hosted by Michèle A’Court! Every ticket bought in the Trust Us season directly supports the not-for-profit charity behind the Fest, the NZ Comedy Trust, to continue supporting the development and sustainability of Aotearoa’s comedy industry.

The 2021 Billy T nominees - [L-R] Brynley Stent, James Mustapic, Josh Davies, and Lana Walters

Recognising and supporting Kiwi comedians with outstanding potential and commitment to their comedy career, four up-and-coming comics are in the running for the Billy T Award this year: Brynley Stent, James Mustapic, Josh Davies, and Lana Walters. Carrying over from a truncated 2020 run for the most prestigious prize in Kiwi comedy, the nominees all perform their solo shows in the Billys season during the Fest. The decision will be made by an industry judging panel following a final performance at the Electric Kiwi Last Laughs where the winner will claim their iconic yellow towel, $2,500 prize money, and join the ranks of previous winners including Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement (as The Humourbeasts) and Rose Matafeo. Snap up your tickets to see these rising superstars and claim your “I saw them when…” bragging rights!

Covid 19 pre-emptive planning in place:

In consideration of Covid-19, the Comedy Festival producers have plans in place to roll out the Festival safely in Level 2 if needed, with only a few large-scale events that may need to postpone. The first release of tickets that go live today ensure audiences can attend the show even in Level 2 – with venue seating physically distanced and following the latest Government Guidelines to keep everyone safe.
When First Release tickets sell out for a show, comedy lovers can join a waitlist on the Comedy Fest website and will receive an email notification when Second Release tickets go live in the week before opening night. Second Release tickets will allow audiences to attend the show at Level 1. We say it every year, but now more than ever, you want to be in early to make sure you don’t miss out!

Comedy Fest Show

Season Highlights:
Whether you’re after an incredible hour of high energy from acts like Laser Kiwi and Two Hearts, or a sensational ensemble offering like SNORT or No Homo, the party never stops in the Party Shows season! Designed with groups of friends in mind, these fast-paced shows are brimming with jokes to keep you chuckling and chortling all night long. 

New hours from Fest faves Pax Assadi, Sera Devcich and Rhys Mathewson are just some of the offerings in the Crowd Pleasers season, perfect for a group night or office outing. Adding to the season, Samoan superstar and legendary laugh master of clean comedy Tofiga Fepulea’i will take the stage at Auckland's Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre, Aotea Centre, first for the Best Foods Comedy Gala on 30 April and then for his solo show as part of his nationwide tour. There will be line-up shows every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night at The Classic, with more blockbuster shows happening in Takapuna, Glenfield, and Manukau for those who want to indulge in a comedic treat close to home.

For those who like their laughs with a side of social commentary or storytelling, the Something To Say season offers an amazing array of comics sharing their thoughts, including the likes of 2019 Fred Award winner James Nokise, 2019 Director’s Choice winner Eli Matthewson, feminist queen Michèle A’Court, and The Fan Brigade’s Amanda Kennedy breaking out on her own.

After charming the nation with their left-of-centre antics on TVNZ’s Taskmaster NZ, Angella Dravid and Paul Williams exemplify the style of the Good Weird season of shows that are anything but ordinary, along with live versions of the felting that saw Chris Parker become a viral sensation and Tim Batt & Guy Montgomery bring the chaos of their global hit podcast The Worst Idea Of All Time to the live stage!
Rounding out the groupings, folks fond of delving into observational storytelling will be hearing from comics like Guy Williams, Laura Davis and Tom Sainsbury in the Keen Observers season, brimming with both ridiculous and relatable anecdotes. People seeking to support someone new should check out the Fresh Faces season, with an amazing selection of material from comedy’s next big things. Plus, there’s an amazing array of improv at Covert Theatre with the Yes, and… season, perfect for those who like to get involved in the action.

The full 2021 NZ Intl. Comedy Festival with Best Foods Mayo programme goes live
and on-sale through at midday Thursday 18 March.

© Scoop Media

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