As we welcome in the 3rd week of the NZ International Comedy Festival, we find ourselves in the midpoint of a mammoth month of comedy, having enjoyed glasses filled to the brim with laughter and entertainment, only to find to our delight that we get another glass to fill. With this in mind, I ventured into the Basement Studio on Tuesday night, empty glass in hand (but eager to fill it up) anticipating what I hoped would be yet another good showing by the Kiwi comics.

I was here to watch Jokes B4 Blokes, performed by festival first-timers and Raw Quest finalists Lana Walters and James Mustapic.

I often comment on the set up of a room, as you can tell a lot about the show based on extra items included on the stage (i.e anything other than the table and a microphone). In this case, there was a projector and laptop set on the table, indicating a multimedia aspect to the show. This is not something you see that often at a festival show and reveals the great deal of thought and preparation that Mustapic and Walters put into pulling this show together.

At the start of the show, both Walters and Mustapic walked onto the stage, welcoming the crowd and engaging in banter regarding flat-based politics, the differences between gay and straight dating, and the ‘Bro Code’ – using the multimedia aspect to great effect, with hilarious visuals to match their witty observations. I was impressed by the effort that had gone into making this into an experience unlike other shows during the Fest, extending the opening sketch before the stand-up segment of the show.

First to perform was James Mustapic, known on YouTube as the creator of the channel ShortStreetScandal. His dry style and sassiness was pleasantly offset by his soft-spoken delivery, creating a neat juxtaposition. In his set, he relayed his experiences as a single gay man in his early 20s, and observations based on this perspective, touching on topics like gay marriage and what to do when you find yourself infatuated with a straight man. I felt his performance was awkwardly charming and refreshingly self-deprecating.

Lana Walters followed, her bubbly and upbeat style providing contrast and variety. Weighing in on issues that affect modern women; from body shapes to going on dates, and other similarly awkward experiences. Lana Walters is a relaxed and engaging performer, able to keep an audience well invested in her stories and observations, stemming from her personal life.

The hour was nicely rounded off with a game show segment, related to the introduction segment earlier in the act. I thought this tied everything up nicely, bringing everything full circle and nicely bookending the show, also providing an opportunity for audience interaction.

Jokes B4 Blokes was an entertaining hour of comedy, and it was clear a lot effort was put into providing structure and a unique comedy fest experience, that sets it apart from the crowd.

Lana Walters and James Mustapic are both rising stars of comedy, and their opening chapter in NZ International Comedy Festival is well worth a watch.


What: Jokes B4 Blokes

Who: Lana Walters and James Mustapic

When: 9 May – 13 May

Where: Basement Studio

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