On Friday night the 2019 NZ International Comedy Festival gave us an early preview of what’s to come from local acts with the Electric Kiwi Billy T Jams. This annual showcase gives a great taster of the strong and diverse nominees up for this year’s Billy T Award and it’s always a treat. The show featured the five nominated comedians who each delivered ten-minute sets.
We were suitably braced for some laughs from the MC Melanie Bracewell, last year’s Billy T Award winner who had us in stitches throughout the night. From smear tests to Shaka Brahs, her jokes were swift just like her Suzuki, as she really cemented herself as one of the great Billy T Award alumni.
First up was James Mustapic, who is known for sharing his ‘Repressed Memories‘ on The Spinoff. He had us chuckling at his anecdotes about growing up gay in Dunedin with is dry delivery evoking our giggles with every punchline. When his time was up he definitely left us wanting more.
Ray Shipley turned our comedy pages as the librarian. Ray had a tougher time with the crowd than the previous acts. But, with a strong comedy character and originality, Shipley overcame this to deliver some moments of pure joy.
Then Donna Brookbanks served us metaphors that went off on many different tangents, at one point almost running us off the road, but she brought us back for a hilarious finish. Brookbanks then served us dessert in a theatrical performance that really fed our appetite.
Next on the stage was Tom Sainsbury. Tom is notorious and much loved for his satire of some well known New Zealanders as the ‘comedian and Snapchat dude’ so he was definitely one we wanted to see. He gave us a few listicles including his ‘top wankers’ – totally relatable BTW. And, it was nice to see that his immense comedic talent extended beyond his well-known imitations to touch upon more personal themes.
The last of the Billy T nominees to the stage was Kura Forrester. She wowed us with some great impressions of her whanau and got us chuckling with her tales of how she ruined Christmas. There were moments where we got a little bit lost, but Kura managed to keep the energy up, and had enough good material to keep the laughs coming. She was great at teasing her upcoming show too by dropping in some goss on a sexual encounter with a well known New Zealand rugby player!
The finale was brought to us from the winner of the 2018 Fred Award for best New Zealand Show – A special performance by the always brilliant Chris Parker. He performed a fabulous musical number, his gay agenda, and how he would change Hollywood.
The Electric Kiwi Billy T Jams was indeed an electrifying night out of great local comedy talent and more than a bellyful of laughter! Book tickets to see all the nominees full-length shows at the NZ International Comedy Festival!
Reviewed by Jeff Lloyd and Isaiah Tour.