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That’s a wrap! Comedy editors Sam and Natasha look back at this year’s Comedy Festival

The NZ International Comedy Festival is over for another year, and so our two Comedy co-editors Sam Brooks and Natasha Hoyland take their final bows. Read on for their farewell messages.

Natasha Hoyland

What a crazy, incredible, exhausting time the festival always is! I always end up so completely knackered that I almost fall asleep during the Last Laughs ceremony, but the day after, when the festival ceases to exist for a year I find myself missing it terribly, almost like a drug. I get post-festival blues, walking around in a trance-like state; I just don’t know what to do with my life. I feel like heading into a year long hibernation that wakes me up just as the next year’s festival begins. 

This year’s festival was at quite a high standard performance wise, with lots of performers trying something new and really upping their game. I saw refined local pros and internationals storm the stage, a bunch of newcomers making their first steps and killing it, and Laura Daniel and Joseph Moore putting on a show at a level of extravagance that the festival has never seen before. I also saw the best hours I’ve ever experienced from Rose Matafeo, Eli Matthewson and Guy Williams, and got really emotional when four incredible women took out all the prestigious awards of the festival.

I can’t believe we have to say goodbye already, as it’s my favourite time of the year. I was so inspired by the shows I saw that I’ve already begun to write my next comedy hour, one that I hope will be my triumphant return to the stage and festival as a performer. With such a diverse range of performers and voices at the moment, and a festival that showcases and celebrates them, New Zealand comedy is in a really good place right now and I’m so excited to see where it’s at this time next year.

As for The Spinoff, it’s been great to be given a platform to be able to celebrate one of my favourite things in the world. Massive shout out to Flick Electric Co. and The Spinoff for giving us jobs, and also to the wonderful team that run the Comedy Festival, who made things such a breeze for me as I tried to navigate all the shows while producing my own at the same time. Thank you to all of our supportive readers – we really appreciate you, and even the trolls in the comments who I often stalk. You’ve all made this festival one of the most memorable ones of my life.

Top 3 favourite shows of the festival: Rose Matafeo – Sassy Best Friend, Alice Snedden – Self-Titled, and Aunty Donna – Big Boys.

Shows I’m gutted I missed because I was sick for week 2: Becky Lucas – Little Bitch, Donna Brookbanks – Cat-Lady-In-Waiting, and Nic Sampson – Jewel Heist.

Favourite Spinoff piece: It’s a tie between From the Shambles Theatre to ‘Pukemakoe’: on the road with Guy Williams and Aunty Donna’s Broden Kelly on making comedy that kicks people in the face going on tour with Guy was such a fun and interesting experience to write about and Aunty Donna are one of my favourite comedy acts ever, so it was very fascinating to find out more about the inner workings of the group.

Sam Brooks

In the third week of the festival, I got rightly taken to task (jokingly) by two comedians for complaining about how many shows I had to see for this job. It was then that I stepped back that I realised that this was my bloody dream job and despite the lack of sleep and the amount of times I’d had to find a synonym for funny, that I should be appreciating it.

I saw 40 shows in the festival, and performed in two (Dope Joke Party and Dialogue: Identity). You can find my reviews of most of the things I saw on the site under my author name. If you look hard, you can see the exact point when I start going insane. It’s been bloody amazing being able to cover comedy over a extended period of time, and to given the opportunity to analyse it both regularly and in depth. It’s an artform that I really love, and one that doesn’t get the critical analysis that say theatre often gets. That’s shitty, but the easiest way to change something is to be that change yourself.

It’s been a genuine treat getting to meet and talk to so many comedians about their craft, their stories and their opinions these past few months. From being able to talk to Sarah Harpur about turning grief into a show, to talking to Rose Matafeo about Nine, to trying to go toe-to-toe with James Nokise about sport and finally, to talking to Urzila Carlson about why the hell she is so great, it’s been such a joy to get to know the community better.

On that note, the response we’ve gotten from the community has been so humbling and encouraging as well. If we exist in a bubble, at the very least it’s a bubble that’s appreciative. And shout-out to the Comedy Festival for being supportive of what we’re doing, what we’re saying and what we’re trying to bring to the community. It wouldn’t have been a thing without your support.

I’m getting sappy so I’m gonna stop. See y’all around the traps next year.

Top 3 favourite shows of the festival: Two Hearts, Tessa Waters: Over Promises and Rose Matafeo: Sassy Best Friend

Shows I’m gutted I missed because I’m a whiner: Rhys Nicholson

Favourite Spinoff piece: My piece where I pretty straight-up declared my taste in comedy by listing my five favourite comedy specials, and also the epic nature that was this two part interview with the Williams trinity.

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