New Zealand’s national indigenous broadcaster, Maori Television, will screen the annual search for New Zealand’s most promising new talent in comedy – the prestigious BILLY T AWARDS – on Saturday June 23 at 9.30 PM.
Inspired by, and named after the much-loved legendary comedian, Billy T James – who was famous for his black singlet, yellow towel and chuckle – the awards are an initiative of the New Zealand Comedy Trust to ensure the continued growth of live comedy in this country.
This year’s nominees were selected on their proven comedic ability, talent, dedication, current form and potential, and are judged on all aspects of their shows at the 2007 NZ International Comedy Festival.
Maori Television has filmed the nominee’s individual shows and their festival finale performances at Last Laugh as part of the 90-minute comedy special, and will also give a $5,000 cash grant to the winner.
The nominees are:
Alex Hawley – Wellingtonian winner of the 2006 National RAW final;
Grant Lobban – The Classic’s Ticket Guy takes to the stage as The Comic’s Comic;
mrs.peacock – musical comedy duo, two-time winner of the NZ Comedy Guild Award for ‘Most Offensive Gag’; and
Jamie Bowen – Melbourne Comedy circuit regular and former member of comedy trio GARY.
Maori Television’s general manager of programming, Larry Parr, says Billy T James remains an icon of inspiration in this nation’s comedic and entertainment history.
“Billy T’s legacy lives on, not just in the memories of New Zealanders who remember him with great affection, but in events such as the Billy T Awards where aspiring comedians compete to win the famous yellow towel,” Mr Parr says.
“Maori Television fully supports the notion of nurturing new comedic talent – after all, we take our comedy very seriously!”
Matai Smith – who will present the broadcast on Saturday June 23 – says he is truly honoured to be hosting the BILLY T AWARDS for Maori Television.
“Billy T James had a huge influence on me as a youngster with his ‘wicked’ sense of humour and even to this day, I giggle when I think back to some of his gags – my favourite was definitely ‘Te News’.
“For myself, it’s almost like we’re having some downtime at the moment as we eagerly anticipate the next influx of Billy T’s, Te Radar’s, Ewan Gilmour’s and Mike King’s to step forward and entertain and enthral us all with some good classic Kiwi comedy.
“I guess the awards are the perfect opportunity for budding comedians to raise their flags of ‘comedic sovereignty’ if you like as well as stake a claim on their whenua in the ever changing landscape of New Zealand comedy.”
The BILLY T AWARDS screens on Maori Television on Saturday June 23 at 9.30 PM