Words Glenn Blomfield
Soon this year’s International Comedy Festival season will kick off. As a precursor, we got to see five nominees for the Billy T James award, shinning stars of NZ comedy take the stage, having the opportunity to be the new participants of winning the coveted ‘Billy T James Award’, a seal of NZ comedy gold approval. Five finalist nominees, have a ten minute stand up show each in front of a live audience, they will be judged, the winner will be later announced. The five nominees are Lana Walters, Josh Davies, Brynley Stent, James Mustapic, and Ray O’Leary. All of them are also part of the comedy line up in the upcoming comedy festival.
MC for the evening was previous Billy T James nominee, Kura Forrester, taking the task of setting the mood and livening the audience announcing each nominee for the evening. Kura graced the stage with welcoming confidence, heartening the room with relaxed laughter priming us for the acts to come. We were definitely in safe hands, happy to be there and laughing ready for more comedy.
First to hit the stage was Josh Davies, using his near blindness disability as his comedy act, exploring his world which may seem uncomfortable to laugh at, he had us laughing along with the craziness and irony of his view of the world. Definitely funny and insightful.
Next was Ray O’Leary, awkward and oddly relatable wit, dressed in what maybe his grand dads suit, his weird and odd views on the world have you giggling and laughing out loud. His quirkiness draws you in, he reminds me of ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ a character from a cult comedy film. Very Funny man.
Things took a change when Brynley Stent took the stage, the only sketch act of the evening, using normal situations that take you on crazy journeys, silly and absurdly wonderful, you’re not sure how to take it, though you can’t help but laugh. Unique and awkward, comedy combo.
Storming the stage comes openly proclaiming his gayness James Mustapic, meek in stature, large in comedy bravado. Using his stand up as a ‘coming out’, his personal anxieties, his life, being gay, and how her see the world growing up. James was hysterical and lyrical.
Final nominee Lana Walters, stand up act using her personal problems as comedic expression. She is accessible, and a breath of fresh air, in using her uncomfortableness for funny enjoyment.
A special guest round up for the evening show, was Tom Sainsbury, using his funny awareness of fellow New Zealanders, from his travels of the country scouring the internet of kiwi news and comment sections, holding a mirror up to of the vey funny lives we live, and views we have on our daily lives in Aoteroa. Who would of thought the Tauranga Travel website would be treasure trove of hysterical comments, and the local council and peoples responses to the absurdity we live in?
Overall very funny and enjoyable evening. NZ comedy is in very safe hands. Everyone in tonights show, was worth the show’s admission alone. Sure there were some stand outs, but each one of them deserves to be seen and heard during the upcoming Comedy festival. Support the local talent and get amongst it.