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Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

Pop CultureDecember 25, 2023

All the New Zealand stand-up comedy specials you can watch right now

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

Summer reissue: Can’t make it to the comedy festival? Here’s how to watch some of our best stand-up comedians without having to get off the couch. 

First published on May 13, 2023.

It’s New Zealand International Comedy Festival season, which is really great news for stand-up comedy fans who live in Auckland and Wellington. For the rest of Aotearoa, there’s a smattering of good options, or, if you’re lucky enough to live in Whanganui, they’ve gone completely rogue with a whole comedy gala of their own. But if you can’t make it to any of these shows across the country, thankfully there’s a plethora of local stand-up comedy specials available online – and most of them don’t cost a thing to watch. 

TVNZ+

Chris Parker: Back to School

Comedian Chris Parker returns to his old stomping ground, Christchurch Boys’ High School, to crack some jokes and shine a spotlight on all-male education in today’s society. It’s part stand-up special, part documentary and even has a sprinkling of tears among all the laughs. 

Laughs Unleashed

A great snappy line-up show where local comedians try out some of their newest material in front of a live audience. Features the likes of Courtney Dawson, Josh Thomson, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer and Brynley Stent – Dawson’s dating yarn in episode one is particularly good. 

The Snort: Live cast photographed for TVNZ

Snort: Live

If you can get over the fact that recording improv seems like an antithetical curse that may invert the whole universe, Snort: Live is a great opportunity to watch some of our best improvisers at work – especially after Snort announced they would be taking their final bow this year.

Stand Up Aotearoa

Settle in for an all-star stand-up comedy show, put together to celebrate the front-line workers who supported us during the Covid-19 lockdown. Features Justine Smith, Pax Assadi, Mel Bracewell and MC Urzila Carlson dressed up in a cat costume. 

ThreeNow

BestFoods Comedy Gala 2022

The comedy gala has something in common with its mayonnaise sponsor – gorge for too long and you might start feeling bad. Luckily, watching from home gives you the option to hit pause, hit the bog, stretch your legs, and not fret about the crowd camera filming you looking daft. 

Guy Montgomery by Name, Guy Montgomery by Nature

From the man who simply can’t resist putting his name twice in the title of all his productions comes this: “a new stand-up special about being Guy Montgomery in a world full of people who are not Guy Montgomery.” Features Guy Montgomery!

James Roque: Boy Mestizo

First read the backstory here, and then enjoy this synopsis from Roque himself. “Boy Mestizo is about my first trip back to the Philippines since moving to Aotearoa 20 years ago. It unpacks how I feel about myself as a Filipino person who grew up here, and my relationship with my Filipino-ness. Basically, it’s a show I wish my younger self could have seen.”

Rhys Darby: Mystic Time Bird

Filmed live in Galway, comedy stalwart and Our Flag Means Death star Rhys Darby “combines silly wonder, obscure observations and sound effects as he takes the audience on a fantastical journey into the world of mysticism, past lives… and birds.”

The Comedy Mixtape with Pax Assadi

A showcase combining “the freshest comedians on the block hitting the stage with some of comedy’s household names.” Hosted by Pax Assadi, featuring Tofiga Fepulea’i, David Correos, Kura Turuwhenua, Courtney Dawson and possibly the liveliest crowd in television history. 

Courtney Dawson in the Comedy Mixtape

Tony Lyall, live in Auckland

If you like his work on The Project, now you can enjoy Tony Lyall’s debut stand up comedy special. Filmed upstairs at The Classic Studio, Lyall covers everything: life, family, kids, and the things strangers yell at him when driving by in their cars. Also, the vaccine, AND pedophiles. 

Urzila Carlson: Token African

Recorded in August 2022, Urzila Carlson attempts to get to the bottom of what it means to be from South Africa in a one-hour special. “Why does being South African not register as African in most places? You’re thinking about it right now, aren’t you? Questioning it.” Laughing AND thinking? Wild. 

NZ On Screen

Pulp Comedy

So many nostalgic options to explore here. This episode from the year 2000 features a young Rhys Darby doing his very best T-rex impression. There’s the 2003 episode featuring then Taika Cohen as Gunter the German “joke” teller, complete with huge fake teeth. In 2004, a baby-faced Flight of the Conchords did a “creepily earnest” performance of ‘’If You’re Into It’. 

Disclaimer: The Spinoff does not endorse any Pulp Comedy content that has aged poorly since the early 2000s (which is… a fair bit of it). 

Taika as Gunther

Pulp Comedy Presents: Ewen Gilmour

Described as the late Ewen Gilmour’s “not-so-special”, the West Auckland comedian receives a coathanger to the city from Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey in this Pulp Comedy special. According to NZ On Screen, the 40-ish minute special includes topics such as “the love-making benefits of a goatee, flying high, stoned semen, westie Halloween and using the SPCA as a cattery.”

An Audience With the King

In the final performance of Mike King’s 2001 nationwide tour, King recounts “cultural subtleties” from his time on the road, giving a “non-PC bro-down on everything from westie pick-up lines, to sport and childbirth.” Caution: definitely refers to women as “bush pigs” in the first minute. 

Netflix

Urzila Carlson: Unqualified Loser

The only local comedian to have their name up in lights with a prestigious one-hour solo Netflix special, Urzila Carlson delivers her thoughts on recasting “The Biggest Loser,” sex tape regrets and boxed wine hangovers. 

Comedians of the World: Urzila Carlson and Cal Wilson

Both Urzila Carlson and Cal Wilson represent Australasia in Netflix’s Comedians of the World – a smorgasbord of 20-30 minutes stand-up sets from around the world. Alongside big names like Nicole Byer, Nish Kumar and Mae Martin, it’s not a bad showing from little old Godzone. 

Urzila Carlson: Unqualified Loser

Neon

Flight of the Conchords: Live in London

After a long hiatus, Bret and Jemaine returned to the stage in 2018 with an all-new comedy special, bringing back a few old favourites like ‘Hurt Feelings’ and ‘Bowie’ alongside new yarns about complimentary muffins and moving ditties about gender role reversal… reversal. 

Apple TV

Rose Matafeo: Horndog

Classic high-energy horniness from the Starstruck creator, BAFTA-nominee and Edinburgh Fringe winner. Explores love, obsession, self-esteem, life in the early 2000s, and the apps that just won’t leave her alone – including a truly perfect joke about period tracking. 

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