BY HAZEL REID

The most packed night of comedy is here once again in the form of the 2018 Best Foods Comedy Gala, and so we’ve cooked up an equally packed interview to celebrate.

This year’s extravaganza is hosted by American Arj Barker and features 21 comedic acts from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, and America. The Gala takes place firstly on the 26th of April at ASB Theatre in Auckland, and secondly on the 29th of April at the Wellington Opera House, with a run of solo shows to follow. We caught up with four of the acts involved ahead of this year’s NZ International Comedy Festival season: Sarah Callaghan, Hayley Sproull, Justine Smith, and Wilson Dixon.

 

Sarah Callaghan

How did you start doing Comedy?

Sarah Callaghan: I did a comedy course in 2010 which gave me the spark to pursue it further. I was incredibly depressed at the time, so it caught me at a good stage in my life! When I started to get paid for being funny I thought, “sweet I’ll keep doing this then.”

Do you have any favourite picks of who to see in this year’s festival?

Andrew Maxwell is great. Fern Brady always makes me laugh, so check out her show too. Also Luke Heggie and Rhys Nicholson. My favourite pick of the festival is obviously Sarah Callaghan. I’ve heard her show is amazing…

What’s been your favourite show/location you’ve performed at?

I did the Sydney Opera House in Australia two years ago and that was definitely a career highlight. I’m positive New Zealand will match up to that though!

If you could collaborate with anyone for a show or tour, who would it be?

Glenn Wool. He is my favourite comedian at the moment. I love his presence on stage and his shows are always hilarious and inventive.

 

Hayley Sproull

How did you start doing Comedy?

Hayley Sproull: I think I farted once when I was a kid and everyone laughed at me and I liked it. I’ve been trying to make rooms laugh ever since, but I’ve upgraded from farting. Though, to be honest, farts are still inherently funny.

Do you have any favourite picks of who to see in this year’s festival?

I think Leon Wadham’s Giddy is going to be mental and hilarious, and Chris Parker’s Camp Binch will be funny and moving; I think he’s doing something really amazing with it. Tessa Waters and Donna Brookbanks are two comedians I adore who are both bringing the funnies this year. Hayley Sproull sounds aight.

What’s been your favourite show/location you’ve performed at?

I performed in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in front of 9,000 people at Edinburgh Castle, which was pretty boss. Not doing comedy though. I feel like elderly scots-people aren’t the crowd for my schtick, but one day…

If you could collaborate with anyone for a show or tour, who would it be?

Queen. Imagine me playing the piano, and Brian May just whipping out some guitar solos between jokes.

 

Justine Smith

How did you start doing Comedy?

Justine Smith: I was dared to do it at an open mic in Auckland in 1998. It was literally the most frightened I have ever been, but it went really well and I was completely hooked. I’d found my thing. I worked my ass off in hospitality for years to support this new love of mine.

Do you have any favourite picks of who to see in this year’s festival?

I can’t WAIT for Parker and Sainsbury’s show Giggly Gerties. I’m deeply in love with everything they do. My pals Fan Brigade, who never fail to make me laugh my ass off, and always anything Wilson Dixon does. Internationally-wise, the lovely Lloyd Langford is always a safe bet for big laughs and looking forward to seeing Sarah Callaghan from the UK as I think I’ll like the cut of her gib.

What’s been your favourite show/location you’ve performed at?

Touring with 7 Days Live all over the country in November was amazing, getting to do so many smaller towns is just so incredibly rewarding, and a lot of times in beautiful old theatres. But always and forever The Classic will be home to me, I performed there the first week it opened!

If you could collaborate with anyone for a show or tour, who would it be?

I’d really like to do a Broadway show with Bette Midler playing my long lost adoptive mother but I’m still in early days of negotiating that, so I guess the next best thing will be joining my BFF Ben Hurley in Wellington for our festival show A Cheeky Half Each at San Fran Bathhouse May 1st – 5th.

 

Wilson Dixon

How did you start doing Comedy?

Wilson Dixon: Firstly can I just say how great it is to be the only country singer in the Gala! It’ll just be comedy, comedy, comedy all night long, and then a little rhinestone of country music will glisten and sparkle. Change is as good as a haircut, as they say. I am also pretty excited about what the backstage food options will be considering Best Foods are the sponsors.

Do you have any favourite picks of who to see in this year’s festival?

I’d go and see any other country musicians but they’re a little thin on the ground.

What’s been your favourite show/location you’ve performed at?

I once performed on an iceberg in Alaska for the We Love Moose festival. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have gone. I thought it was a festival celebrating creamy chocolate desserts, rather than large hoofed animals. My bad.

If you could collaborate with anyone for a show or tour, who would it be?

Willie Nelson, for obvious reasons.

 

Follow the links to check out the full line-up for Auckland and Wellington, and keep in mind that this amazing worldwide comedy event will also be screening on TV3. Head to the Comedy Festival website to see the array of shows on offer for the rest of this year’s programme.

 

From tour managing boybands to working massive events and interviewing international talent, HAZEL REID is in love with the craziness that is the entertainment industry.

 

 

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