I made my way to the Rangitira at Q Theatre on Thursday night to witness the final of Raw Comedy Quest, New Zealand’s premier competition, and a launching point for the future of New Zealand Comedy.
The night was MC’d by international guest Jimmy McGee, an experienced and skilled MC, who magnificently warmed up the audience, creating a great rapport, successfully maintaining that energy throughout the night, creating a great environment for the 11 talented finalists, to deliver the most polished 6 minutes of their material.
There was a superb line up of diverse talents on display. Finalists from Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, Courtney Dawson, David Prentice, Hamish Webber, Heta Dawson, Jamie Patterson, Julie Belliveau, Lane Pilkington, Sarah Hughes (from Auckland),Caleb Stowers, Opeti F Vaka (from Wellington), and Keegan Meiklejohn (from Christchurch). Each each comedian went up and delivered their sets with confidence and craft, rising to the occasion. The competition was tight, which can’t have made the judge’s decision an easy one.
When all was said and done, head judge Jamaine Ross came to the stage to announce the winners. It had been decided that Courtney Dawson and Sarah Hughes were to be joint winners, an unconventional decision, not without precedent. This was a sure sign that competition in this particular final was tight.
Courtney Dawson, was a name I was hearing all over the circuit, but it was finally on Thursday when I finally had the pleasure of seeing her perform. Her set was a mix of observations about her local area south Auckland, and anecdotes from living with a parent who liked to bend the truth. She is a natural performer, able to mine moments from her past and craft them into something delightfully punchy.
Sarah Hughes was very charming, and honest. Not afraid to discuss her own embarrassment. I found her material very relatable, as she talked of the awkwardness of a new job, and the difficulties having a common name. She was also able to examine her own family’s history, exploring the mechanics of a hypothetical long lost relative. She is a strong, and confident performer, excelling at using logic to explore concepts, and creatively conjure up hilarious scenarios.
The Raw Comedy Quest Final is usually a highlight of the Comedy Festival, a glimpse into the future landscape of New Zealand Comedy. The beauty of the competition is that anyone could enter, even you dear reader could find their way onto the Rangitira stage.
When: 22 – 25 May
Where: The Classic