I was lucky enough to head along to one of the last shows of the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, The 5pm Project. The advertised line up consisted of Guy Williams, Rose Matafeo and Joseph Moore, but it wasn’t until we arrived that we realised there was an extra cohort of comedians joining them. Fair to say, I was pleasantly surprised. By ANNA HENVEST.

Rhys Mathewson, Matt Stellingwerf and Steven Boyce bounced on stage at the Q Theatre, a venue perfect for the show. Attendees of all ages surrounded me in the crowd; predominantly teens but also, parents, younger siblings and even a couple of grannies.

Rose Matafeo was a hilarious host, warming up the crowd and getting us going for night of snorts and belly laughs. Her five-ish minute set consisted of jokes as well as imitations; it was a performance that had her audience in hysterics. She had to endure a couple of hecklers in the back row, but it was nothing this comic queen couldn’t handle, as she wove their remarks into her set. Everyone tipped their figurative hats to this, and big kudos to her for making the little random things in life into great jokes.

Next to take the stage was Rhys Mathewson, the highlight for two of the three friends I was with. I’d seen some of his stand up on the telly and was impressed. He was great live too, and was impeccably creative with his gags. Although all acts of the night were impressive, it was Mathewson who had me in stitches, particularly with his passion for "kimono dragons" and their desire for silk; imitations included.

I'd never heard of Matt Stellingwerf, but he lived up to his apparent title of ‘Next Big Thing’. This guy was absolutely hilarious and had short, sharp jokes which the audience loved; he was definitely a crowd favourite. He really is the next big thing, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing him perform in future.

Steven Boyce and Joseph Moore then performed enjoyable but short sets. Whilst the rest of the acts seemed to have sets between five and ten minutes, Boyce’s in particular felt much shorter than the rest. They are obviously both talented comics, but I’m not entirely convinced that they were playing to the right audience. They appeared to struggle a little more connecting to the teen demographic. Nonetheless they gifted us a few hearty laughs and were enjoyable to watch.

Last but not least was our headline act, Guy Williams. After seeing him play at the Grey Lynn Community Hall a year or two ago, I thought this performance was more concise and easier to watch. He was an absolute joy to behold; it’s no surprise he’s doing so well for himself. He did a longer set than the others, and the audience seemed to enjoy every minute of it. I thoroughly look forward to seeing him again.

The 5pm Project could only be described as, well, refreshing. I mean refreshing in the sense that we didn’t know the line-up terribly well, so we went in there with no expectations. It was also great to see a show catered to teenagers without coming across as condescending in the slightest. I would definitely watch this again, and it’d be great to see a few more live comedy shows directed to a younger audience in future.