Stand-up comedy enjoyed a bumper year in Whanganui in 2021, and two locals are ready to kick it up a further notch.
Hello Comedy is a new production company set up by Dave Wiggins and Elizabeth McMenamin-Pervan.
Its first show is in February and will be headlined by Auckland comedian Nick Rado, the head writer for comedy panel show 7 Days.
Wiggins, a relative newcomer to Whanganui, was nominated for the Billy T Award in 2009, but took a break from comedy for a decade not long after.
He said the new venture was set up to try to bring a bigger, more top quality comedy show to Whanganui.
"That means bringing in a big name from out of town.
"When you look at a comedian's tour, they're usually going to New Plymouth and Palmerston North, and they skip Whanganui.
"I think we are prime for it here. There's a growing population, and a population that wants to go and see things.
"If you put on quality stuff then the people will come."
He made his return to the stage last year and has performed regularly since.
"My first gig back was in Pahiatua of all places," Wiggins said.
"I remember driving to the venue and the first sign I saw there was 'Yes, we have Eftpos now'.
"That's when I knew I had made it, I got to perform in a theatre with Eftpos."
Both will be on stage on the night as well, with Wiggins acting as MC.
"Last time I MCd, at Porridge Watson, someone after the show said 'wow, I thought you were just as good as the comedians'," he said.
"I didn't really know what to say. 'Um, thanks, I'm a comedian too'."
McMenamin-Pervan only began performing stand-up last year, but with a handful of shows now under her belt, she has moved from six to 10-minute sets.
She said being able to hold these events meant local comics such as herself would have the chance to take the stage alongside established performers such as Rado.
"Who knows, I might even do 11 minutes at this one. It's my show, so I can do what I want."
The other name on the bill is Whanganui's Al Reid, the creator of the You're Gonna Die In Bed podcast.
"We have pretty big dreams; hopefully one day we can take this to the [Royal Whanganui] Opera House," McMenamin-Pervan said.
"To be honest, we would like to work our way towards a comedy festival, which would involve multiple venues here in town."
Hello Comedy's following event, set for June, will also be held at the Musicians Club.
"We'll make it the comedians club, just for the night," McMenamin said.
"Musicians are welcome. They're just not allowed to touch their instruments."
Wiggins said a comedy scene needed regular open-mic nights, and they were also on the pair's radar.
"They [open mic nights] allow newer, younger comedians to gain experience and more experienced comedians to try out new material and not so much pressure.
"If you're doing a gig I feel you're responsible to the paying audience, but with open mics, where you don't get paid anything, you're just like 'hey, let's go'.
"We're looking at getting a little venue going for that as well."
Hello Comedy's Summer Comedy Special is at the Whanganui Musicians Club on Friday, February 18. The show begins at 7.30pm. It is R18 and vaccine passes are required on entry.
To go in the draw to win a double pass to the show (you must be aged 18 or over), email firstname.lastname@example.org.