NZ International Comedy Festival drops Wellington's San Francisco Bath House

Urzila Carlson is one of the Kiwi comedians upset about the San Francisco Bath House being dropped by the Comedy Festival. Photo / Michael Craig
Urzila Carlson is one of the Kiwi comedians upset about the San Francisco Bath House being dropped by the Comedy Festival. Photo / Michael Craig

Kiwi comedians are up an arms after the New Zealand International Comedy Festival cut one of Wellington's much-loved venues from next year's festival.

Wellington's San Francisco Bath House manager Ziggy Ziya confirmed the iconic venue would not be part of the 2017 festival and "not by the venue's choice".

Instead, festival organisers have established a new venue, in an attempt to create a central entertainment "hub" near the waterfront.

"NZICF is creating a new venue at the Rowing Club, complete with a roof top bar in the centre of this new hub. The aim is to create a walk-up festival atmosphere in conjunction with other events happening in the city simultaneously," a statement read.

"This venue is being established not to replace San Fran Bar but in response to requests by artists and promoters for an affordable mid-sized theatre style venue that Wellington currently cannot provide with the Festival dates and footprint."

Ziya called the news "incredibly upsetting" and it's understood upward of 70 letters of support of the venue have been sent to the Comedy Guild.

It's also understood many of New Zealand's major comedy names have expressed their upset over the issue in the private Facebook group, including Alice Brine, Ben Hurley, Michelle A'court, Eli Matthewson, Jeremy Elwood, Urzila Carlson and more.

In a post on the New Zealand Comedy Guild's Facebook page, Siya wrote that the venue had been offered two shows, but they weren't enough to make it financially viable.

"I was told that San Fran hadn't been many applicants' first venue choice, though I now understand a number of applications had it as their second," he wrote.

"After hosting around 400 NZICF shows since 2005 and winning a comedy festival award, we are sadly no longer a part of this great festival that we have enjoyed being involved with for so long."

He also said that the venue had attempted to create a new programme of shows in an attempt to remain in the festival but the festival "declined this solution, and maintain their position to not programme any shows at San Fran during the festival".

- NZ Herald

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