Whanganui comedian Kajun Campbell Brooking has taken out this year's Raw Comedy Quest Central North Island competition.
Brooking made his comedy debut in the same competition last year, and he said nerves weren't so much of an issue this time around.
"I was just looking around watching everyone else sh*t their pants instead, it was good," Brooking said.
"When you're going into competition, you're playing the game.
"I knew what I needed to prepare for this year."
He has played dozens of shows since his debut, opening for Paul Ego, Raybon Kan, Gish, Alexander Sparrow, and Li'i Alaimoana along the way.
Brooking said he used these gigs to get as many opinions on his act as he could.
"If you want to excel in comedy, you need to have thick skin and get feedback.
"It's cool to hear that people like what you do, but it's also good to hear 'Don't ever do that again man'.
"That's what I need to hear.
"I always ask every comic I meet for a little chunk of advice, but I don't think you should ever take it as gospel. You just take what they say, work with it, and see if it fits."
Brooking said the Raw Comedy Quest required comedians to perform for no more than six minutes, so he had to "crunch" his material down.
"That's four minutes of jokes, and you're looking for two minutes worth of laughs.
"If you don't get the laughs then you're pretty much just saying things for four minutes before you bugger off.
"You just need to go out there and go 'bang, bang, bang', That's what's going to get you through. If you don't need that word in there, chuck it out.
"Brevity is the key."
Aside from continuously honing his own comedic craft, Brooking said he had also employed "a few mind games" on the big night.
"I turned up to the final in trackies and a sweat top and was just cruising around saying 'hey bro' to everybody, then just before I was up I went into the toilet and changed into a dress jacket and gold chains.
"When I came out all the other competitors were just like 'what the hell?'."
The next round of the competition will be in Wellington in August and Brooking said he would be there as a spokesman for the entire central North Island.
"I was born and raised in Hastings, then I did my high school in Palmerston North, and now I live in Whanganui, so I'm representing this whole region.
"Well, not Taranaki, I don't care about them.
"I only go there on holiday, really."
His act had evolved and grown in the last 12 months, Brooking said, which was important if he was to win over the judges in Wellington.
"When I first started I was going out there and trying to tell this whole story with funny bits in it, but you really need to be more versatile than that, especially in a competition format.
"In a competition, it's full-blown craft. I've got my one-liners, callbacks, a bit of a song, and lately I've been using a prop.
"When you bunch all the stuff into a set that really helps, because you're showing the judges that you care about your craft."
Brooking said that craft was the most important thing for any comedian.
"I'm not the funniest guy I know, far from it, but my point of difference is that I'm the guy with the big balls who gets up there and does it.
"You don't have to be the guy down at the pub who tells jokes and everybody laughs.
"Anyone can be funny, but you have to be smart and really work on it.
"That's where I come in."