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RAW Comedy Quest Review

RAW Comedy Quest is the capital’s premiere comedy competition. Witness the rising stars in stand-up before they hit the big time. From 6 heats, the top 24 go to the semifinals, and the top 10 to the Wellington final.

The stepping stone for many New Zealand comedians, the Raw Comedy Quest has brought forth new comedy talent from across the country.

The Wellington App sent its editor to Heat 2 of the Raw Comedy Quest last night. Here’s his review:

Having never been to a stand up comedy gig before, I was very unsure about what to expect, particularly when I found out that the comedians on stage during the Raw Comedy Quest are all amateurs. I’m also not generally a fan of stand up comedy in general, I find it very difficult to sit through a full stand up routine on Netflix for example – it certainly isn’t my first choice of what to watch.

I quickly found out that going to a live stand-up gig is a completely different experience. I’m not sure whether it was the live environment, or the caliber of the comedians themselves, but some of these acts had me laughing far more than I have ever laughed at the regular crowd of all-star international professional comedians you see on TV and elsewhere.

If you have never been to a stand-up show before, I really do recommend going along to one of these RAW Comedy Quest nights – especially if you’re anything like me and are generally cynical towards stand up comedy. It was a really nice experience to be part of a large crowd of good-natured people who were enjoying themselves, and also seeing the amateur comedians who were performing really enjoying themselves as well. Occasionally, some of the jokes fell a bit flat, or the punchlines were forgotten in the heat of the moment, but those kind of small qualms actually added to the experience, making it feel like a more relaxed environment and show. It was also great to be able to grab your own table and have a few beers and something to eat while watching the comedians.

If you have been to a standup show before, then I still definitely recommend going along to enjoy and support some of the excellent home-grown talent that New Zealand has to offer. Who knows, maybe you’ll witness the breakthrough moment of a new Rhys Darby or Dai Henwood!

The way that these nights’ work is that out of 8 contestants, 3 go through to the semi-finals. The three winners on the night were Deepak Nair, Opeti Vaka, and Clara van Wel. If it wasn’t for the fact that I know only amateurs were performing last night, I would never guess that these three were not professionals. They were all very relaxed on stage and immediately built a great rapport with the crowd.

Deepak Nair got the largest laugh of the night with the punchline “Malaria kills one million people a year” – The set-up to this was absolutely masterful, so I won’t ruin it for you, you’ll have to go and see him in the semi finals and hope that he reuses the joke. Even the MC, Adam Wright was driven to comment that this was the first time that he had heard a crowd cheer for Malaria.

Opeti Vaka definitely seemed the most comfortable on stage. His routine ranged across a slew of subjects, from parenting in the modern era, to religion, to time spent in prison. His obvious good nature meant that even an inner city Wellington crowd were in stitches at his often controversial humour.

The final performer to make it through to the Semi finals was Clara van Wel. Hers was the most intellectual of the performances, while also the lewdest – certainly no easy feat. Riffing on sexuality and politics in equal measure, Clara’s act was thought provoking in more ways than one!

Having previously been a Stand-up cynic, I can now safely say that I will be attending the rest of the heats, plus the semi’s and finals. This was genuinely a hilarious and enjoyable 2-hour experience, even for someone like me who usually struggles to stay engaged with anything for longer than an hour. I honestly believe that you would be hard put to find a better way to spend $16 (the price of a ticket) on a Thursday night. This event would be perfect to go to with either a large group of friends, your special someone, or just by yourself.

Check out the next heat tomorrow, Thursday 14th March, at the Cavern Club on Allen St.