6 March 2024

Where there's a Wil, there's a laugh: Wagga Comedy Fest promises big-name line-up

| Jarryd Rowley
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Wagga Civic Theatre manager Claire Harris and comedian Dane Simpson invite you to the Wagga Comedy Fest this June. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

Wagga Comedy Fest has built a reputation as one of the region’s most popular annual events, drawing hundreds of tourists from around NSW.

Now in its 10th year and ninth iteration, the festival returns to the Civic Precinct to deliver a stacked bill of talent, with tickets already on sale.

Iconic Aussie names including Mel Buttle, Geraldine Hickey, Tom Gleeson and Wagga Airport’s least-favourite comedian, Wil Anderson, will all take to the main stage at the Civic Theatre during the June long weekend.

Civic Theatre manager Claire Harris said the stacked cast of local and national talent would offer a show to suit all comedic tastes.

“If you like your comedy from big-name TV comedians, we’ve got you covered,” Ms Harris said.

”If you like things a little crazier and more unpredictable, you need to get your tickets for Garry Starr, Shad & Pete or Dirty Laundry.

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“We have deliberately staggered the show start times so you can catch as many comedians as possible each night.

“Comedians love coming to Wagga, it’s not difficult [attracting popular talent] because they love being here and interacting with Wagga audiences. They come in droves and they truly enjoy their time in the Riverina.”

One of the biggest headliners for this year is Wil Anderson, who Ms Harris jokingly hoped wouldn’t be arrested this year.

“It’s a bit of an ongoing joke about Wil coming to Wagga a number of years ago and getting arrested. He’s made several jokes about it in the past but it wasn’t hard to convince him to come back this year.

“While it is a funny story in hindsight, we are hoping he’s not going to be arrested this year,” Ms Harris said with a smile.

Among the plethora of talented performers making their way to Wagga is a bunch of locals from the Riverina Comedy Club, including Wagga icon Dane Simpson.

Comedy event poster

Wagga Comedy Fest returns in June with its biggest line-up yet. Photo: Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre.

Simpson will head the annual Great Debate and host the Gong Show, similar to an open mic but with the crowd deciding whether the performer gets kicked off stage.

“The Gong Show is the chance for anybody to get involved in comedy, which I love,” he said.

“Anybody that thinks that their friend is funny, out them, put them on stage and let the crowd decide.”

Simpson, among other local comedians, will also run workshops over the long weekend.

“We want people to be at their peak when they go on stage,” he said.

“It can be confronting getting up in front of people you don’t know and trying to get them to laugh, but when you can there is no better feeling. That’s the reason we run these workshops, to help people build their confidence and hone their comedic craft.”

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Multiple performance spaces, including the E3 Art Space and Riverina Playhouse, will be utilised during the King’s Birthday long weekend, with bigger shows in the main areas.

Simpson is encouraging audiences to attend a variety of shows in different spaces, explaining that he enjoys nothing more than finding new talent and watching more personal shows.

“Places like the E3 space, that is going to host shows like Shad and Pete, which is a bit more inclusive and intimate,” he said.

“It’s late night, a bit more fun and a bit more cheek. It gives a vibe that you can’t experience in the bigger spaces.

“Go and see the big, big shows like your Tom Gleeson and Geraldine Hickey and then book a smaller show. You’ll see the difference. Each provides their own unique experiences.”

The Wagga Comedy Fest runs from 6 to 10 June at the Civic Precinct. To learn more about who is performing and where to purchase tickets, visit the Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre website or call the box office on 6926 9688.

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