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The Search for NZ's Best New Stand-Up Talent Is On!

Thursday 2 February 2017

The Search for NZ's Best New Stand-Up Talent Is On!

Nearly every Monday since The Classic Comedy Club opened in October 1997, the mic has been open for Rookies. Over 800 Raw Comedy shows featuring upwards of 1,500 ‘would be’ comedians. The main highlight of the celebration is the annual Raw Comedy Quest - the search for the funniest new comedian of the year.

In 2017, the quest for the newest comedy talent will be going further afield to Hamilton, New Plymouth, Tauranga, Napier/Hastings, and Dunedin. With the expansion of the local pro-circuit, there are now venues in many of these towns where you'll find regular audiences and aspiring comedians.

The Raw Comedy Quest evolved from the original Rookies Night at Kitty O’Brien’s Tavern in 1993. Wellington has been involved in Raw Comedy Quest since the early 2000’s initially sending one finalist and then 2 each year once their local scene grew.

Wellington have enjoyed considerable success in the Grand Finals with a number of winners including Cori Gonzalez Macuer (2003), Jerome Chandrahasen (2004), James Malcolm (2014) and Lucy Roche (2016). Christchurch began hosting heats three years ago and continue to produce fine comedy acts. This year, Raw Comedy Quest Heats are happening in two of Wellington's best live music venues, San Fran and The Fringe Bar.

All semi-finals continue to be held at The Classic but, due to popular demand for tickets, the Grand Finals are now held at Q Theatre. The Classic Comedy Club is celebrating its 20th Anniversary Year in 2017 with over 400 live events including the Raw Comedy competition.

In the past 20 years, there's been some dramatic changes in Raw comedy particularly with more women and people of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds coming through the Raw Comedy competition, showing the wide-ranging appeal of comedy and diversity of New Zealand.

Scott Blanks, the Godfather of The Classic, says “Maybe we will find some wilder people out there. Many of our most successful comedians started out in the provinces but had to come to the city to seek their fortune. Taking Raw Comedy to them may shorten up the journey.”

In 1996, the first “Raw Comedy Quest” was held at The Powerstation, with Paul Ego, Jesse Mulligan and Mike Loder as finalists. Interestingly, being named the overall winner of the Raw Comedy Quest is no guarantee of success with many ‘runners up’ enjoying more success. Major names in NZ comedy Urzila Carlson and Guy Williams were both runners-up in 2008. The 2007 runner-up Rhys Mathewson went on to enjoy comedy glory as a Billy T and Fred Comedy Award winner.