In a country of four million people, jokes get old very quickly, Queenstown-bound comedian Ben Hurley says.
So relying on one polished routine is not an option for the 7 Days regular, one of New Zealand’s most successful international comedians.
But after 4000 comedy gigs and also as head writer on the comedy panel show, Hurley has both a deep well of original material to draw from and a talent for topical jokes.
And if nothing comes to mind, he’ll just improvise.
“I don’t even know what I’m going to say when I step on stage; it’s just whatever comes out really,” Hurley says.
“It just becomes second nature after all those gigs.
“The thing about NZ is you can’t do the same material every night because it’s too small.
“In the UK once you get really sharp performance-wise … you can trot out the same stuff every night – there’s 66 million people. But your writing suffers. Here there are four, so comedy fans will have seen you so you have to keep it fresh.
“Fortunately the topical thing helps and that I just like to improvise and muck around on stage. It’s different every time.”
The Taranaki comic has enjoyed a stellar stand-up career, winning NZ’s two biggest comedy awards, performing on countless TV shows and festivals, and perfecting his hugely likeable stage presence with three years on the difficult UK circuit.
“We all got brought up on Fawlty Towers, The Young Ones and Monty Python, so I guess it’s that shared love of the slightly absurd and self-deprecating.
“Our sense of humour is quite English I find; there’s not a great deal of difference and New Zealanders are fairly sought-after on the UK circuit if they’re any good.”
Writing for 7 Days is “somewhere in between” highly stressful and incredible fun, he says.
“It’s definitely a pressure situation but you’ve got to have fun doing it or otherwise you won’t do anything good.”
Catch Ben Hurley, Terry Frisby and MC Nick Rado at The Laugh Club, SkyCity Casino, this Saturday from 8.30pm. Tickets $25