The annual showcase of international and local comedy talent took place last night at Auckland’s Civic Theatre when the Best Foods Comedy Gala gave us over two hours of laughs.
Aussie Rhys Nicholson was at the helm as compère and he did an awesome job throughout. It’s a tough gig to keep the audience going, and the show running to time, but he never failed to bring the room together and give us plenty of big giggles during the night. Flame-haired and dressed in the perfect showman glittery jacket, he talked of his love life, anxiety and the creepy Ghostbusters lions at the Civic. Upbeat, quick and with excellent energy, he was the host with the most and one that I’m certainly keen to see more of.
Overall, the gala can be a tough gig for performer and audience. The short performance time allocated is pretty hard for acts to get their personality and material across and even Gala favs struggled a bit on the night. Festival favourite and now Netflix phenomenon James Acaster, had a stumbling start but one that I think he felt more than we did as the laughs were certainly coming from our end of the theatre. And, I’m sure his 10 sold out Auckland shows prove NZ has plenty of love for this UK star.
Paul Sinha aka The Sinnerman from The Chase also brought some UK flavour to the night. Smooth delivery alongside his niche job description gave a good taster of his style and he’s on my list now to go and see his full show.
However, overall this year I think the local talent ruled. Two Hearts brought glamour and music to the proceedings with the brilliant Laura Daniel and Joseph Moore performing a great number about her mixed heritage that will no doubt sell seats to their full show to any viewer.
Another Gala favourite, Urzila Carlson, brought the lols with her Bunnings sausage sizzle bit which will have you questioning your life choices and then ignoring them and stuffing your face with bangers again next Sunday. Eli Matthewson taught us a thing or two about Greek Gods and Guy Montgomery’s showing off skit was all of us at those uncomfortable pre-teen years. Justine Smith delighted locals with her West Auckland jokes, recent real estate agent experiences and her honesty about ageing hit the spot too.
However, for me, 2018 Fred Award winner Chris Parker totally stole the show on the night and shone a beautiful beam of glorious hilarity straight at an adoring audience while he reminised about the retro internet and pointing out the need for more gay movie stars.
The guy with the difficult job of ending the night was Brit Brennan Reece. And, he carried the audience over the finish line with some surprisingly cheeky delivery of material on getting older and the possible issues with not wanting to live beyond what would be considered a reasonable length of time.
After a long night of giggles, my night was made even more perfect by being handed two jars of Best Food Mayo – the official sponsors of the festival. You can watch the Best Foods Comedy Gala on TVNZ 2 Friday 3rd May (but you’ll have to buy your own mayo).
The comedy fest is now live and very much kicking and you can catch an array of international and local talent across Auckland, Wellington and beyond until 26th of May. If your favourite comedian is sold out, take a punt and rock up to a random show as you’re sure to discover some wonderful talent and have a good ol’ laugh.
Check out the full line up on comedyfestival.co.nz
Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar.