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The NZ International Comedy Festival programme is out and these are our hot takes

Spinoff Comedy editors Natasha Hoyland and Sam Brooks flick through the hot-off-the-presses NZ International Comedy Festival programme and give their expert kneejerk opinions on what you should go to this year.

Natasha’s top picks:

Aunty Donna – Big Boys

The infamous Australian sketch group that do weird, insane, things. There’s basically nothing much else to them. Whether you’re a fan of their amazing YouTube sketches or not, their live shows are so surreal that you’ll leave the theatre thinking that you’ve just woken up from a crazy dream. I would rather die than miss this show.

Daniel Sloss – So?

There’s heaps about Daniel Sloss that fascinates me. I went into his comedy festival show last year not knowing who he was, and I felt like from that show alone I learned quite a lot of (dark) things about him. I don’t know how he does it, but he has a way of turning some of the bleakest, darkest ideas into hilarious well-crafted jokes.

Parker & Sainsbury – D.O.C.ing

The team behind hit show from last year’s festival Camping are back again with a brand new show about Department of Conservation workers trying to rehome a brown spotted kiwi. Parker & Sainsbury combine utter chaos with characters that you’ll look at and say “I know someone who’s exactly like that!” If Camping was anything to go by, this show is one not to be missed.

Dialogue: Identity

This is a show I’m really intrigued by. Dialogue premiere on Mother’s Day in last year’s festival, curated by Michele A’Court with the theme Mum’s the Word. This year with Jackie van Beek, the theme is identity. With such a broad topic that could be taken in a range of directions, I’m excited to see who’s on the line up and see how they interpret the theme.

Dope Joke Party

If you’re looking for madness and a mix of the best local and international comedians, this is the show for you. The last time I went to one of these I saw James Acaster give someone a lap dance. Do I need to say more?

Paul Williams (left), Brynley Stent (right)

Natasha’s things to see:

If you want to fall in love:

Paul WilliamsSummertime Love

Paul is one hell of an attractive and insanely talented dude. I first fell in love with him after seeing his music video for his song ‘Sentinel Beach’. Then again onstage with Rose Matafeo in Finally Dead a few years ago. Then AGAIN when I saw him open for his brother Guy during the comedy festival a few years ago and proved his comedic talent, talking about pirate treasure map etiquette. By bringing a hilarious and different approach to comedy as a 2017 Billy T Nominee, I think he’s a strong contender.

If you are obsessed with religions, cults, and more specifically Gloriavale:

Brynley StentEscape From Gloriavale

Brynley is a national treasure and creates some of the most amazing characters I’ve ever seen in my life as seen in Camping, Snort, and hit show Funny Girls. I’m obsessed with Gloriavale, so I’ve been shaking in anticipation ever since I heard about this show. I’m so blessed, words can’t describe my thankfulness.

If you want to see some hilarious magic:

Jarred FellHack

I usually hate magicians and magic shows, but Jarred Fell does some seriously impressive stuff, and in a non-boring way which is a huge bonus! Not only does he do tricks, his sets are almost always packed to the brim with hilarious jokes and sexual innuendo. Fun for the whole family!

If you want to see some of the best sketch comedy you’ll ever see:

Frickin Dangerous BroMoney In The Bank

Individually, Jamaine Ross, James Roque and Pax Assadi have all had successful and hilarious comedy festival seasons. But together, they are something else entirely. Watching them on stage is such a joy because you can genuinely see how happy they are. They’re just a bunch of mates having fun, and their sketches are so funny that you’ll often catch them trying really hard not to laugh.

If you’re a little bitch, like me:

Becky LucasLittle Bitch

One of the most memorable shows I saw in the comedy festival last year was Breakout Comedy, a showcase of upcoming Australian comics. It was such a great line up featuring Gen Fricker, Rhys Nicholson, Ray Badran, and Becky Lucas. Becky Lucas was the real standout for me, hilarious, real, and absolutely relatable. Fantastic Twitter account too!

Disclaimer: Natasha Hoyland is the producer of Frickin Dangerous Bro

The Bitches Box (left), Angella Dravid (right)

Sam’s top picks

The Bitches’ Box

The Bitches’ Box has travelled around the entire country, to places you haven’t heard of outside of the weather report on the news, and sold out pretty consistently wherever and whenever it’s toured, including a hit run in every comedian’s favourite money-hole the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Two actresses (Emma Newborn and Amelia Guild) play two dogs. They’re real good actresses, and also some theatre in your Comedy Festival diet couldn’t hurt.

Angella Dravid – Down The Rabbit Hole

Honestly, the funniest thing I’ve ever seen on a stage in this country was in Thomas Sainsbury’s The Shittest Theatre You Will Ever See: Angella Dravid walking a bicycle slowly across The Basement Theatre stage with a miner’s helmet on her head. I’ve seen Dravid at lineup shows since, and she stands out not only for her Twin Peaks-meets-mumblecore style of comedy, but for her killer punchlines and rapport with the audience. You’ve never seen anything like Dravid and you never will, until you actually see her.

Sarah Harpur – Dead Dads Club

Dead Dads Club is the recepient of one of this years’ Creative Comedy Initiative Grants, which has given us smash hit shows like Rose Matafeo’s Finally Dead, Chris Parker’s No More Dancing in the Good Room and Jonny Brugh and Jackie van Beek’s Flashdunce, so whatever this show ends up being, it promises to be something developed, thought through and has had some proper money thrown at it!

Tessa Waters – Over Promises

I saw Tessa Waters at a 2PM show in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; she threw something at me and pretended it was a baby, and she moved her face in ways that human beings shouldn’t be allowed to move their faces. If you’re into the stuff that Trygve Wakenshaw (Squidboy, Kraken) does and are craving some good old-fashioned clowning, and why wouldn’t you be, then Tessa Waters should be your first outing.

Justine Smith – An Hour Roughly

Justine Smith is the best we’ve got. You’ve seen her on TV. You’ve seen her TradeMe ads. She’s been around longer than you have and she’s been killing it. She’s won basically every Comedy award out there, and deservedly so. Each year she comes back with a show and low-key sells it out and kills it. She’s not only reliable, she’s reliably excellent. Do yourself a favour and see her.

James Nokise (left), The Fan Brigade (right)

Sam’s things to see:

If You See One Straight White Dude Show, See This One:

Brendan Kelly – Caveman

I saw Brendan Kelly as part of a two person show last year, and the dolphin story he told was a perfectly structured, so left-of-field-he’s-in-the-parking-lot kind of joke that makes me want to see what he can do with an hour. You guys won’t have time to get to every straight white man show, so make the one you manage to get to count! Kelly won’t disappoint.

If You Want To See A Show Solely Based on the Title/Image Combo:

Donna Brookbanks – Cat Lady-in-Waiting

Donna’s been killing it as a part of every millennial’s favourite improv troupe Snort for the better part of four years now, so you should jump at the chance to see her hourlong show. You can’t go wrong with a Grey Gardens-meets-Grey Lynn photoshoot, and that title promises the kind of wacky, deeply lived-in character work that has Brookbanks indispensable to Snort.

If You Want A Surefire Laugh:

James Nokise – Talk A Big Game

There’s only so many ways you can say “This guy is funny can you please see their show”, but James Nokise is funny, can you please go and see his show. I’ve seen this guy do a packed out puppet version of Pulp Fiction at noon in a dingy bar in Edinburgh, I’ve seen a reading of one of this guy’s plays, and I’ve missed a whole lot of his shows because he’s from Wellington and I am not. But this guy is funny and he knows what the hell he is talking about, you can rely on him for a laugh, and rely on him to make your parents a little bit uncomfortable and confront their own opinions. Go see his show.

If You Like Musical Comedy and Comedy That is Musical:

The Fan Brigade – Don’t Ask The Fan Brigade and Laura Daniel x Joseph Moore – Two Hearts: Auckland World Tour

Musical comedy is an acquired taste, too often it’s a dude who learned how to play Wonderwall on an acoustic guitar applying lacklustre punchlines to even more lacklustre music, but these guys do it better than anybody. The Fan Brigade are two fiercely filthy ladies who know their way around their music, and know their way around their jokes even better, while Laura Daniel x Joseph Moore are seasoned professionals at musical comedy in a screen format with Jono and Ben, so the promise of them coming together for an hour of dedicated musical comedy is a huge one.

If You Want to Be Delighted and Scarred In The Same Hour:

David Correos – David Correos is Going Full Correos

David Correos was last year’s shock Billy T Winner, and an incredibly deserving one. Think Hamish Parkinson meets Rikishi; Correos is a tremendously talented clown, and a once-in-a-lifetime comedian. You haven’t seen anything like David Correos until you’ve seen Correos himself perform, and the promise of Correos going full Correos terrifies me. Bring a poncho.

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