New Zealand International Comedy Festival

Taken outside of Q Theatre in Auckland, during the 2015 NZ International Comedy Festival.

The New Zealand International Comedy Festival, is held simultaneously over three weeks during April/May in Auckland and Wellington. From its beginnings as a 2-day event; the Festival has now developed into a major nationwide event with a total attendance of over 100,000 people each year. The Festival is run by the New Zealand Comedy Trust.[1]


To be the most loved arts festival in New Zealand and a coveted destination on the global festival circuit.


To deliver a world class festival showcasing the very best comedy from New Zealand and around the world.


Provides income and a platform for the delivery of the Trust’s development Initiatives

The New Zealand Comedy Trust- championing the art of laughterEdit

The New Zealand Comedy Trust was established as a charitable trust, with their main aim to champion the art of laughter. The Trust’s primary objective is industry development:

The development of new pathways for growth and success.


To elevate New Zealand comedy as a celebrated and integral feature of the arts sector.


We create opportunities to develop, promote and grow a sustainable and diverse comedy industry in New Zealand.


A dynamic, resilient and successful comedy industry in New Zealand

Development initiatives created by The New Zealand Comedy Trust include The Billy T Award, Class Comedians (a free high school development programme), The Fred Award, Comedy Lab and the Creative Comedy Initiative, which ultimately aim to help comedians establish a career in comedy.

Current Board of Trustees: Kylie Sealy, Steve King, Oliver Sealy, Ed Caruthers, James Calverley, Richard Green, Adrienne Bonell, Rasmika Maharaj, Gemma Gracewood, and Tim Batt

Main eventsEdit

Each year the Festival features over 200 shows and involves around 250 performers. The Festival contains a wide range of comedy performances - from emerging artists through to NZ comedy industry veterans, and stars of the international comedy circuit.

Similarly, the Festival caters for a wide range of audiences with specific shows aimed at children, teenagers and a diverse offering of comedy fare.

The opening of the Festival is the televised Comedy Gala, a showcase of performances by the top local and international comedians appearing in the festival. Past venues include St. James Theatre until 2008, and since then the Auckland Civic Theatre and ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre. Past hosts of the gala have included: Jeff Green, Ardal O'Hanlon, Arj Barker, Wayne Brady, Ed Byrne, Bill Bailey, Rove McManus, Greg Behrendt, Jeremy Corbett, Jason Byrne and Rhys Nicholson.

Alongside the large number of local and international shows, there are a number of events held annually such as the Class Comedians programme. This in an initiative set up to train talented high school students in the art of stand-up comedy and ends with a showcase at Q Theatre. It's most successful graduate is Rose Matafeo. The RAW rookie competition is also held every year, with the national finals at The Classic Comedy and Bar in Auckland.[2]

To conclude the festival is the Last Laughs awards showcase. It is the last chance for the nominees for the Billy T Award and Fred Award to perform before the winners are announced at the end of the show. Other festival prizes awarded at Last Laughs include: Best International Comedian, Best Local Show, Best Newcomer, Best Marketing and Spirit of the Festival.

Awards and GrantsEdit

The New Zealand Comedy Trust supports & rewards excellence within the comedy industry through the following awards and grants:

Festival Awards: Announced at Last Laughs on the last Sunday of the Festival, these awards include Best Marketing Campaign, Spirit of the Festival, Best International Show, and Best Newcomer.

Billy T Award : Also announced at Last Laughs, this award recognizes exceptional potential in an up-and-coming New Zealand comedian.

Fred Award: Also announced at Last Laughs, this award rewards the Best New Zealand show within the Festival.

Creative Comedy Initiative : This grant encourages, develops & supports performers in the creation of new, innovative and visionary performances that push the boundaries of the traditional comedy genre.[3]