Friday, August 15th at 8:30pm

Off the back of the success of AotearoHA, TV3 and The NZ Comedy Trust are proud to present more cutting edge, quality comedy showcasing yet more new comedy faces when AotearoHA – The Billy T Awards screen on Friday, August 15th at 8:30pm on 3.

The inaugural AotearoHA show from the 2007 NZ International Comedy Festival showcased new and established Maori and Pacific Island stand-up talent. It was filmed for television with assistance from New Zealand On Air and broadcast on TV3 as a one-hour special.

Following the success of that show, TV3 and the NZ Comedy Festival are once again partnering for another AotearoHA show, this time featuring finalists for the prestigious 2008 Billy T Award.

Inspired by and named after New Zealand’s much-loved comedy legend Billy T James, AotearoHA – The Billy T Awards will celebrate and promote emerging New Zealand comedic talent.

Filmed over six nights in Auckland during the 2008 NZ International Comedy Festival in early May AotearoHA – The Billy T Awards will once again be a one-hour special, featuring the five 2008 nominees (Steve Wrigley, Simon McKinney, Jim Brown, The Lonesome Buckwhips and Grant Lobban) as they present their solo and group shows during the Festival.

The Billy T Awards were last filmed for a network television in 2003 and the key reason for bringing them back now is the wealth of talent in this year’s pool of nominees. All of the acts are hilarious in their own right and deserve to be seen by a larger audience.

The nominees themselves represent a wide variety of comedic genres, from stand-up to mimicry, character comedy to music. AotearoHA – The Billy T Awards will enable New Zealand viewers to feel proud of their comedy industry and see that it has a very bright future indeed.

The special will be hosted by Jeremy Corbett (Deal or No Deal), and feature short grabs from previous Billy T Award Winners such as Ewen Gilmour, Jemaine Clement, Dai Henwood and Cal Wilson. It will climax with the announcement of the winner, and the presentation of the “Billy T Towel” by Cherie James, Billy T’s daughter.

Make sure not to miss this hilarious special when our five finalists compete for the Billy T award, AotearoHA – The Billy T Awards screens on Friday, August 15th at 8:30pm on 3.

Locally produced television comedy is getting a boost thanks to funding decisions made at NZ On Air’s February meeting.

Almost $2.5 million worth of NZ On Air funding was approved for a slew of comedy programmes that will be turning up on screens around the country in coming months.

“The proposals for these programmes were terrific,” NZ On Air Chief Executive Jane Wrightson said, “and we’re looking forward to seeing the results. There’s an excellent variety of projects and programme makers involved.”

Funding has been allocated to Paradise, a 13-part situation comedy series set in a backpackers hostel run by a zany bunch of twenty-somethings.

“The premise behind Paradise means there will be plenty of potential for some real fun on screen,” said Ms Wrightson. “And as well as that we’re happy to have been able to give the nod to a couple of returning comedy series – Moon TV and Pop! Goes the Weasel.

“Production will begin soon on an eight-part sketch comedy series called Possum Point, which will bring us a special brand of silliness from comedians The Comedy Pilots, and there’s also a stand-up comedy special called AotearoHa, a showcase for some of the best New Zealand comedy talent.

“It’s a very good time for New Zealand comedy at the moment, and it’s great to see the free-to-air networks’ enthusiasm for having new programmes, and those that have already found a ready audience, on their screens,” she said.