Local martial artist Kajun Brooking had never set foot on a stage before March of this year, when he took part in the Raw Comedy Quest.
Now he has a fledgling comedy career with a stand-up routine, something he said took him "completely by surprise".
"My partner posted online that she was going to the comedy show at Lucky, and I jumped on there and said, 'babe, I'm going to enter'," Brooking said.
"It was a joke, which is pretty ironic, and I was expecting to get a laugh emoji or something, but instead I ended up getting some help from a friend who does a bit of stand-up, and I scraped together five minutes of material and got on stage."
He didn't win the competition, but was selected as a "wild card" entry for the Central North Island Raw Comedy final, in front of a sold-out crowd at the Globe Theatre in Palmerston North.
"I couldn't really believe it, and I was out in the green room thinking, 'should I be nervous?'"
"I wasn't at all really, and I think that's because I compete in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and I'm super nervous before those competitions because the worst that could happen is that I leave on a stretcher or even in a body bag.
"That's as bad as it gets really, so as long as I don't leave on a stretcher after a comedy show, I should be good."
After impressing at the Central North Island finals, Brooking continued to be booked for comedy shows.
His latest appearance was a slot at "Crack up with the Cuzzies", also in Palmerston North.
"It's moving so fast, and I'm just holding on for dear life.
"Being backstage with all these experienced comedians, I'm wondering what I'm doing there, but then I go out and get the laughs, and feel like I do belong.
Brooking said he started off with "observational stories with an absurd twist", but has now added his own Māori culture into his routine.
"I like to include some of my own experiences as a Māori, because I think some audiences aren't privy to that culture and humour.
"If I can be the kind of comedian that Billy T [James] would laugh at, then I'm happy.
"A lot of my family were in the front row at my second gig, including my mother and my brother's mother in law, both of whom have been battling cancer for the past year.
"I saw them there smiling and laughing, and that was the moment that I realised how powerful comedy could be, and it can take people away from their everyday struggles, even if it's just for a moment."
There didn't seem to be much stand-up comedy in Whanganui, Brooking said. Only "a couple of other guys" performed sporadically.
"I'd like to get more people involved, and if things keep going the way they're going, it would be great to have some dudes to bounce material off.
"I think Lucky Bar are starting up a Friday open mic night again, so I'll try and hustle some people down there and get them involved."
• Kajun Brooking's next show is at Lucky Bar on September 9, with fellow comedian Alexander Sparrow.