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'In His Prime': Comedian Jack Ansett

By MIRANDA COOK

Stand-up comedian Jack Ansett makes a living taking “the piss” out of everyday life, but you might know him more famously from a 2017 KFC ad.

Ansett says: “I played Background Nerd Four, and people used to know me as the KFC guy.

“I didn’t have any lines, and now it’s just my desperate plea for ticket selling,” he says in jest.

But the jokester, who’s Auckland-based but grew up in Christchurch, has come a long way from being a finalist in the RAW Comedy Quest, at just 16 years old.

He now warms up the live audience with his jokes on news and entertainment TV show, The Project, and he’s also appeared on Family Feud.

It’s only fitting the 22-year-old’s first New Zealand comedy tour, which he’s currently embarking on, is dubbed ‘In His Prime’.

“I just thought I’m not going to get anywhere sitting around Auckland, and I’m a big fan of making bold moves, so I just thought I’d do a tour,” he tells Mountain Scene.

Not backwards in coming forwards, Ansett says making it in NZ’s comedy scene can be tough business.

He points out doing the rounds at New York pubs and clubs sees comedians doing five gigs a night, whereas in Auckland it’s “usually about two a week”.

“When you’re not famous, it’s actually quite hard to sell tickets.

“In saying that, NZ is a smaller pool, so you get to play alongside great comedians.”

But the humorous storyteller is definitely not deterred by difficulty, and says more and more opportunities are happening for Kiwi funnymen, such as himself, and women, to make their mark in NZ and abroad.

Ansett’s off to perform at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which says more about tenacity than talent, he says.

“But the hope is you become a much better comic by working your ass off.

“I’ve been worried about selling tickets in Hamilton, and now I’ve got to sell three weeks in Scotland.

“I need to slowly get rid of all of my NZ references because they aren’t going to work anywhere else — so no jokes about David Bain.”

But he’s seemingly got the gift of the gab many struggling artists need in order to make magic happen on a tight budget.

The press shots for this tour (as seen in this article) were shot by an internationally-renowned photographer, who’s snapped superstars Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift.

“I was in London, and I just messaged him out of nowhere saying, ‘hey mate, I’ve got no money but love your photos’.

“And he messaged back to say ‘thanks for the compliment, I’ll do you a deal’.”

A photo package usually priced at about $5000 cost Ansett about a fifth of that.

For those wondering what his comedy style is like, “anything I can think of that’s funny” is how he describes it.

“I just take the piss out of myself a lot and hope to create the vibe that you’re just having a conversation with your mate.”

For a belly laugh and to support Ansett, head to Yonder on March 18 at 8pm. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for students, and can be bought at eventfinda.co.nz

ed@scene.co.nz