The Billy T Award is one of the most prestigious honours in New Zealand comedy, a title linked to many of our top comedic exports, and it's the subject of NZME's brand new podcast.
Billy T' Billy pairs up the 2021 Billy T nominees with a different winner for a half-hour discussion on everything comedy related – from good advice and bad gigs, through to the competitiveness of the award and what actually goes in to making a Comedy Festival show.
This year's nominees – Brynley Stent, James Mustapic, Josh Davies and Lana Walters – are also in the unique position of having had an extra year to prepare for the awards, after the 2020 Comedy Festival was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But as they reveal, trying to prepare for a Comedy Festival show – particularly when you have a nomination hanging over you – is not all fun and games.
Launched in 1997, the Billy T Award celebrates the best emerging performer at each year's Comedy Festival. Many of the winners have gone on to become household names – including Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Rose Matafeo and Dai Henwood – while competition is so tight that other superstars – such as Mike King, Urzila Carlson and Rhys Darby – have missed out.
But just how much impact the award can have on your career, and what it's like getting through the other side of the process, is just one of the many things that our nominees and winners discuss during the four episodes.
In the first episode, Brynley Stent talks with her Golden Boy and Taskmaster co-star Angella Dravid, who won the Billy T Award in 2017, about performing dark comedy, favouring sketch over stand-up, and finding the funny in going to prison.
Then James Mustapic sits down with 2014 winner Guy Montgomery to discuss the competitive side of the industry, podcasting and webseries, and the great lengths one audience member went to in an effort to voice his opinion.
In the third episode, Lana Walters talks with Rhys Mathewson, the 2010 winner and also the youngest person to ever win the Billy T, about the impact the title has, the hidden cost of comedy, and doing stand-up while pregnant.
And in the final episode, Josh Davies and 2016 winner David Correos take a break from putting the polishing touches on their shows to discuss the process of joke writing, representation on stage, and filming your worst ever gig for a documentary.
All four episodes are now live on iHeart Radio. Next week, the NZ Herald will be reviewing all four Billy T nominees as they take to the stage in Auckland.
You can subscribe to the podcast here:
Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/nz/podcast/billy-t-billy/id1566464891