Ring-ring, ring-ring…“You’ve reached Dai Henwood. I can’t take your call right now…” “Oh man. Word’s got around that I hate stand-ups. All that intense internet-based research gone to waste. I wish I wasn’t so hung over.”
Dai Henwood has become one of NZ’s premier comedians. A quick Google search reveals more than 38,000 hits on his distinctive name. The recipient of the Billy T award in 2002, star of Roll the Dai, _Insert Video Here_, C4 and Xena Warrior Princess, has landed himself in the company of two other comics for The Notorious Comedy tour taking place during O-week.
Ring-ring, ring… “Hello, Dai speaking,”
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Chit chat ensues and finally we get talking about the vibe of the new show. The three stand ups are all managed by Notorious Entertainment Limited and have interlocking and complementary styles of comedy. What Henwood describes as a “full noise” show.
Flanked by standup giants Ben Hurley and Steve Wrigley (who are also recipients of the Billy T award in 2004 and 2008 respectively.) Dai is happy with the line up and thinks that it is going to kick some ass.
Hurley has just got back from supporting Ed Byrne in the UK. Wrigley has just started working for ZM in Auckland.
Back in the late ’90s Dai was a student here at Vic and graduated with a BA in Religious Studies. It was at his time here that Henwood got into live comedy. He’s stoked to be back at his old stomping ground. He guarantees that the show here at Vic is going to go off, described in a way that only Dai can get away with: “balls to the wall.”
Both Henwood and Wrigley are originally from Wellington. When asked what it is about this giant teat the likes of himself, Flight of the Conchords, Jerome Chandrahasen and Wrigley have all suckled on, Dai is unsure. “From my point of view it was growing up with an artsy family and the nurturing that happened there. Also access to quality comedy and getting to know the same sort of people is key.”
Henwood is currently looking for a sidekick to support his act. The competition called Dai’s Protégé Project precipitated out of fans cracking jokes after shows. So far the response has been good with heaps of entries, almost half-and-half guys and girls.
Henwood says that “…if you want to get into comedy you need to work really hard and believe that what you’re doing is funny.” You can enter the competition by visiting www.c4tv.co.nz
Every comedian has a worst show. They usually involve places like Wanganui or Te Kuiti, but Dai’s took place in Edinburgh. “I was doing a midnight show and the entire audience thought the show was hard-out theatre. About ten minutes in I had a costume change and when I came back out there were two people left. It turns out one of them recognised my last name and had been to school with my mother in New Plymouth.”
“You just gotta suck it in. When you’re doing thirty shows in twenty days there’s no time to dwell. Just move on.”
Where to next for Henwood? “T.V. is getting busier and busier. We’re working on a sitcom. Well, it’s not really a sitcom in that sense. It’s about a House DJ from Tokaroa.” The move to a more structured format is seen as taking a step forward for the comedian.
“Flight of the Conchords really put a stamp on NZ comedy. But the future of comedy in New Zealand will probably head back to straight standup. But then again, who knows? That’s the awesome thing about comedy: there are no rules.”
The Notorious Comedy Tour hits Vic March 4 in Union Hall. Tickets available from VUWSA and Vic Books Pipitea. Students $10, Non-Students $15.