Best Foods Comedy Gala: Review

NZ Comedy FestivalThe New Zealand International Comedy Festival kicked off its Wellington shows with a line-up of funny men and women at the Opera House on Sunday 29th April 2018 for the Best Foods Comedy Gala.

Starring Arj Barker, Andrew Maxwell, Andy Zaltzman, Eamonn Marra, Guy Williams, Hayley Sproull, Justine Smith, Jimmy McGhie, Lloyd Langford, Marcel Lucont, Pax Assadi, Phil Wang, Rhys Nicholson, Sarah Callaghan, The Fan Brigade, and Wilson Dixon.

New Zealand International Comedy Festival is being held in venues around the country from 26th April until 20th May 2018.

So, was I entertained?

Oh hell yes! The gala serves as a taster session for the comedy acts that are hitting venues around the country with their own individual shows. The night kicked off with MC and host, American funny man Arj Barker, who was far and away the best of the night. The supporting acts had six or so minutes each to impress us and the majority did a great job with just a few that fell flat.

My hilarious highlights:

  • Arj Barker was the star of the show. His comedy was laid-back with perfect delivery and tempo. His hook that you never see coming was perfection – it was very un-PC but hilarous all the same.
  • Brit Jimmy McGhie was the first of the supporting acts and was such a hit that we were instantly searching the listings to find out when and where we could catch his individual show.
  • The Fan Brigade – usually I run a mile from a musical comedy duo but these Kiwi lasses were a friggin hoot! Who knew a song about the Levin RSA could be that good!
  • Phil Wang – my first introduction to this half Chinese, half Brit comedian who had every world domination joke covered.

The three plus hours of comedy went by surprisingly fast. Unfortunately the stunning surroundings of the Wellington Opera House weren’t equally matched with stunning air-conditioning (ie there was none) and as the night wore on the heat was edging towards unbearable – the odour from the sweating crowd had already past that point! With fancy plastic glasses refilled at the interval and even ice-creams being devoured, the jokes about New Zealand’s mild climate from the international set were funny, even if they were no longer topical. At least Marcel Lucont had a proper glass for his wine – as if he would drink out of anything else!

The mix of comedy was spot on with a great blend of international and Kiwi acts, a few musical numbers (Hayley Sproull was wildly funny with the rudest of songs), a few oddballs (Donald Trump’s brain made an appearance) and plenty of tear-inducing laughter.

Should you come along?

The great thing about a show like this is getting to see a snippet of what those acts can do in their own show. If you can catch any of them during the New Zealand International Comedy Festival then by all means get along and give your laughing gear a workout.

For more information, visit the NZ International Comedy Festival website.



  1. felicity May 28, 2018 at 10:51 am - Reply

    I loved going to the comedy shows in Auckland – always very entertaining. The best one was a comedy cruise one evening – quite a few years ago now 🙂

  2. Zeri Ong May 26, 2018 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    This has been missed by me. I recently just enjoyed watching comedy shows on Netflix. Have you guys seen Ali Wong’s shows? It’s hilarious. Maybe in the near future, I can attend an actual live show just like these.

  3. Amanda Carr May 15, 2018 at 9:53 am - Reply

    This sounds great we all need a good laugh sometimes and I think it’s good for us and for 3 hours even better.

  4. Shontelle Fahey May 8, 2018 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    Three hours of comedy sounds like a great night out full of laughs. I’ve never been to a comedy show this definitely sounds like one to look into.

  5. Vikki Sainsbury May 4, 2018 at 10:19 am - Reply

    Would love to go to one of these shows! I went to see Billy Connelly in Dunedin quite a few years ago and he was awesome! There’s usually someone for everyone in these shows, I know not everyone has the same comedy taste but I’m sure everyone would be laughing 🙂

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