Well folks, here we are, in the final week of the NZ International Comedy Festival, a week which for some is a highlight. Traditionally the 3rd and final week of the comedy fest, contains the shows that have been nominated for the Billy T award. I had the privilege to go along to one such contender, You Do You Babes, performed by Donna Brookbanks.

It was mostly clear on Tuesday night, The Basement was once again hustle and bustle. The breeze was relatively light that evening, 12 – 28 Km/h, this south westerly wind pleasantly offsetting the humidity which was at 71%. The temperature was supposed to be 17ºC, with a low of 14ºC, which is fine, but the report said that it felt like 14ºC, but I felt it was closer to 15ºC, but I suppose I could be splitting hairs.

As I walked into The Basement Studio, water in hand, in one of those humorous “The Rock” cups. I was pleased to find that the room was air conditioned, nicely mitigating the humidity, I was pleased by this as I was able to keep my jacket on indoors.

The room was filled with choral music, the room decorated with a manuscript stand, a screen, and a stand in the center with a bowl and candles. This was of course set up for her opening sketch, a sermon of the “church of single ladies.”, an apt introduction as a large part of the show focused on the single life.

Brookbanks has greatly expanded her repertoire of comedy styles since last year, once again breaking the show up into segments, with interludes in between the stand up. To this end she showed off her skills in physical comedy and mime, as well as delivering some clever and well written sketches, making the whole show feel like a variety hour, all of which was well constructed and flowed very well.

A major part of this show’s charm was Brookbanks’ interactions with her tech “Amanda”, it was all very tight, and the two bounced well off of each other, it was wonderfully meta, which scores points with me as I love meta-humour. This all served to display how a comedian can make use of every asset at their disposal. The teching was also top notch, the lighting making the segments feel distinct from each other, and while there were some minor technical issues, the whole thing kept rolling on, and led to some excellent banter between Donna and Amanda.

The content of the show was very relatable, a lot of the comedy observational, discussing awkward situations with border security, women in restaurants and what’s on TV. The comedy also seemed deeply personal, these observations contained within a personal story, revealing an aspect of her personality.

Brookbanks is well on her way to becoming on of New Zealand’s top performers, an act dedicated to providing an experience that goes beyond a traditional hour of stand-up. On this night her performance was a good mix of bubbly and awkward, always eager to slip in a self deprecating comment or physical gag.

You Do You Babes is an excellent mix of comedy styles, I would recommend it to people who like variety in their comedy, as well as people who enjoy comedy that is personal and vulnerable.


What: You Do You Babes

Who: Donna Brookbanks

When: 7:15PM, 15 – 19 May

Where:  The Basement Studio

There is an extra show on 19 May at 5:30PM

NZ International Comedy Festival In Review: You Do You Babes - Donna Brookbanks
You Do You Babes is a solid variety hour, featuring stand up, sketch and physical comedy. All relatable, all hilarious.
  • Solid mix of styles
  • Uses everything the room makes available
  • Great physical comedy
9Overall Score
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