Female comedian: 'I scare most people off'
Vicki Anderson talks to comedian Justine Smith about her
experiences at the World Buskers Festival.
Justine Smith, a Cantabrian who lives in Auckland with her
boyfriend and two kittens, is one of New Zealand's best stand-up
comics. She has won awards, including the coveted Billy T Award and
the NZ Comedy Guild's Best Female Comedian award. She is known for
her caustic wit and her super fast "potty mouth".
Are male or female comedians funnier? And don't you hate
"I know, right? We're all funny, that's why we're invited here.
For the festival, there were eight comedians and it was one way of
splitting into two groups to fit the shows in, end of story."
What's it like returning to your hometown to
"The buskers festival is my favourite gig. Every year that I am
lucky enough to be included it makes my whole year, really it does.
Coming back to Christchurch I can't get my bearings. I find it hard
to remember what was where now and I grew up here. I went to
Avonside Girls' High and I'm sure there are some girls I went to
school with in the crowd this week. I'm just hoping my school bully
Your mum still lives here, doesn't she?
"Yes, she's very proper. She's proud of me but she doesn't come
to my shows which is probably a good thing, I think it might put me
off. Poor woman got a daughter that talks about vaginas in
A male colleague is curious to know if comedians and
buskers get groupies at the festival. Does that
"Yes, but not so much to me. I get the really strange ones for
some reason who come up after the shows and put their arms around
me. I'm like 'Back off buddy'.
"For some reason Urzila [Carlson] often gets hit on by straight
women, which is really quite strange. But yes, the men have had a
lot of puss in their face this week but most of them have partners
so it's not going very far."
How often do fans get a bit weird?
"Not so much with me because I think I scare most people off
with my scary eye.
"Dai Henwood is one of my best friends and he couldn't go to the
Big Day Out this year because of that. Every four steps he gets
stopped by someone wanting a picture taken with him. It's nice but
a whole day of that just puts him off the idea of going to things
"He's also quite small and people often pick him up which sounds
like it might be funny but really it isn't."
You seem very confident. Do you ever get nervous before a
"I always get nervous, it's terrifying - especially the first
show of a run, I was shitting my daks. I was peeking through the
curtain at the crowd and saw one guy with pursed lips in the front
row and I thought 'he's going to hate me'.
"For the festival we're doing 11 shows in 11 days, once you've
got the first one under your belt it's OK but then the opposite
happens. If it's going too well you start to worry, too.
"I also keep thinking my show should be cleaner but I can't do
it, without dirt I've got nothing."
Why do you think there aren't more female comedians in
"I seriously don't know. I have no answer. Lots of girls start
doing it and then fall away. I don't subscribe to the idea that
it's because it's male dominated - so is truck driving but chicks
still do that.
"There should be more, Kiwi women are f...ing funny."
- Only Justine will get this but it's worth including in the
hope it will make her laugh as a thank you for the fantastic hours
of laughter she has given people in her hometown this week:
"Ladies, a plate".
Nothing But Stand Up, tonight 7pm, Saturday 8.30pm, one hour show,
at the Big Top, Busker Park.
© Fairfax NZ News