Kylie Sealy has been working with the Comedy Fest since 2002, and loves talking about her favourite time of the year.
Kylie, how is Comedy important to you?
... [what] I love about comedy is that anyone can go. You don’t need to know anything about a specific art form or you don’t need to know the play or know the writer, you just need to want to have a good time... I really enjoy the fact that comedians have that voice-of-the-people sort of role. So what they talk about is quite topical and makes audiences think... and they are reactive to what’s going on in the world and the commentary of what’s going on in New Zealand and the world. I find that a really interesting place within the arts.
What are the best and hardest parts of your job as Festival Director?
The development. Aside from seeing the work on stage and having the privilege to watch comedy a lot of the time, I really enjoy the development... to develop comedy and comedians and help with their performance, to professional development and then personal development. That’s quite a big focus for me.
Hard is relative I guess. I really enjoy the role and the community around, so even when it’s hard it’s enjoyable. [...] I guess the hardest bit is probably the amount that we try and do with our limited team and limited resources. We have fairly high standards and we like to achieve a lot.
How does the Comedy Festival compare to other Festivals apart from scale?
It’s single-focus probably - as opposed to it being an Arts festival or a Fringe festival - that it’s focussed around comedy. We’re probably unique in that we run in two cities at the same time, we’re in Auckland and Wellington, and then we have a travelling show... we do a lot of development work around the outside of the festival and in the festival as well. So there are workshops and Creative Comedy National Lab which is funding for work. We make a show called AotearoHA with TV3, which is up and coming comedy showcases on the television. So I guess our remit as a trust is delivering more than just a festival, which makes us slightly different.
What does it take to put something of this scale together?
Time and resources. We’re an umbrella festival, which means that we put on a platform of the festival, but we don’t produce individual shows. So for us it’s about putting on the platform of the festival, and then working with performers to help them sell their shows and get audience’s along. That’s a big part of what we do.
What are your Top Picks for this year’s festival in Wellington?
I am quite excited about a show called Felicity Ward that’s just doing one night in Wellington. She’s an Australian Comedian, and within the show she kind of looks at her depression and anxiety. I think it’s quite an important show in how she sort of deals with the depression and anxiety within the framework of a comedy show. I always love Eammon Marra, who’s doing a show with Jonny Potts this year.
… within the festival I enjoy particular venues. You know, spending an evening at BATS and seeing two or three shows… because the shows are an hour you can go and see two or three shows... Wellington especially, you’ve got VK’s… last year was the first time we were at VK’s for the festival… A comedy club in Wellington for the first time! I think the development of the local industry has really come leaps and bounds with that purpose built space.
Do you have anything to say to the general public about the festival?
Take a risk on something you haven’t seen before. Have a look through the programme and go and see the shows and the people that you’ve seen on TV… but also take a risk on a local Wellington comic… go and see a show that you might not have heard of but you’ve read the programme and it sounds interesting and it sparks something in you. I think that taking a risk is really important.
If people are looking at wanting to know more about the comedy industry, or wanting to get a handle on the hot, new comedy talent, we’re doing a show called Next Big Things, which is seven up-and-coming performers… Go see that show [early in the festival] and then book solo shows after that.
If you would like to know more about the NZ International Comedy Fest, head to www.comedyfestival.co.nz, or pick up a programme (they shouldn’t be too hard to find in Wellington!)