A sell-out crowd packed the Spiegeltent to see comedian Ben Hurley perform as part of the Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival on Tuesday night.

Mr Hurley's hit show Earth, Planet, World was one of the first festival shows to sell out and "proves that Hawke's Bay audiences have a strong taste for comedy", says festival director Pitsch Leiser.

Mr Hurley, best known for his role in TV3's 7 Days, entertained the large crowd with gags drawn from every country in the world.

"It's an ambitious concept," Mr Leiser said, "but Ben proved that he is more than up to the task."


Harcourts Hawke's Bay managing director Kaine Wilson said it was an amazing night out that was complemented by the weather.

"The stunning evening meant people could mingle around the amazing garden bar area prior to the show," says Mr Wilson.

"The show was very funny, entertaining and clever. The audience response was one that clearly showed they had enjoyed it, knew what to expect and certainly weren't disappointed."

Mr Leiser said the team had tried to ensure this year's festival had something for all tastes.

"We've offered a huge variety of entertainment from opera to stand-up comedy, Shakespeare to hip-hop and everything in between," he said.

"It's about giving people a great night out with professional artists delivering quality shows, no matter what the genre."

While Mr Hurley's show was the only pure comedy routine offered this year, many of the shows had been "extremely funny".

"We've enjoyed some hilarious shows this year," said Mr Leiser, "from the delightfully irreverent Don Juan to Michael Hurst's incredibly clever and funny Shakespearean-inspired No Holds Bard."

He said there was still plenty on offer for people who wanted to enjoy quality theatre with a comedic element.

"Tonight, people can choose from the hilarious Little Shop of Horrors in the Spiegeltent or SolOthello at the Century Theatre, which is full of tongue-in-cheek moments."

Tomorrow night's No More Dancing in the Good Room is described as a "hilarious and moving account of a young gay boy growing up in middle-class Christchurch".

Performed as an autobiographical solo piece by actor and dancer Chris Parker, it earned rave reviews at the 2015 New Zealand International Comedy Festival and earned Parker a "Best Newcomer" award.

On the closing weekend of the festival, UK actor Guy Masterson performs two solo shows at Napier's Century Theatre - Under Milk Wood and Shylock.

Mr Leiser said both shows had plenty of light-hearted moments and would be the perfect way to end the festival in Napier.

For bookings go to hbaf.co.nz.