New Zealand’s busiest comedian Ben Hurley once harboured dreams of being a rocker.

Instead, the metal fan became one of our most celebrated and in-demand stand-up comics.

Now, he’s on his way to Queenstown with a new show paying homage to the independent music venues across the land.

‘Houses of the Holy’ will have all the gratification of a rowdy rock show without the accompanying hearing loss, he says.

‘‘In 2020, when the world shut down, and NZ reopened again in almost full capacity, people were afraid to go out, and music venues in particular were struggling.

‘‘I got involved with a campaign then to save them.

‘‘I have the utmost respect for these smaller indy music venues that have gigs as their primary source of income, hence the tongue-in-cheek title about holy houses.’’

Combining his passion for these special venues with his retro music taste — ‘‘I’m a child of the ’90s, but people think I’m old because I love Led Zeppelin and music of the ’60s and ’70s’’ — instead of playing music he’ll induce heavy riffs of laughter with his wailing verbal solos.

Performing at Sherwood this Saturday, Hurley says comedy can bring in a a different kind of crowd to a band, and believes it’s recession-

‘‘It’s a relatively cheap night out, sometimes comedy can thrive in depressed times.’’

A popular and regular visitor to Queenstown, Hurley says he’s still searching for the ultimate night out here.

‘‘I always feel like I should be having a better night than I am when I go out there.

‘‘I feel like it’s a great party town, but I end up being cold in between bars — weirdly, I have a better night out in Hamilton.’’

But he’s excited to get amongst the hype around locally-produced gin when he visits.

“I dabbled in craft beer a bit too long.”

Nowadays living on an idyllic-sounding lifestyle block near Waihi Beach with his partner and two children, he says they’re growing up to be “sweet young nerds”, noting ‘nerd’ has a positive meaning these days.

“I mean, you have to be massively nerdy to be a wild rocker, practising your guitar relentlessly, even the likes of Motley Crue spent hours learning their craft.”

Hurley, who grew up in Taranaki, performed his first stand-up routine at just 21.

“It was something that I always wanted to try. 

“My friends were giving it a go in Wellington and it was as organic as it could possibly be.

“And people were giving me money to do it.”

He cut his teeth in the UK comedy scene, where he lived for four years.

“I was a nobody, I gigged five to six times a week in Britain.

“I worked on a show called Mock The Week, as a ghostwriter and then came back to New Zealand.”

On his return home, he joined the original team on the hit TV3 show 7Days.

“I was a core cast member and head writer and spent 11 years on that show, but I left because I needed fresh ideas,” he says.

These days Hurley’s also a regular contributor to TVNZ’s hugely popular 7 Sharp show, although he says the days of him travelling all over for interviews are over.

“I don’t know if you’ve heard, there’s not a lot of money in the budget for news-adjacent journalism these days.

“I’ve been offered full-time jobs over the years, I can’t imagine taking them to be honest.”

Nor does he need to,

Hurley’s quite busy enough, thank you, and he’s got a rock ‘n roll tour for all us all to get excited about.

Ben Hurley — Houses of the Holy Stand Up Tour, Sherwood, 8pm, April 27. Tickets $38.50 + fees, via eventfinda

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