Comedy Club and bromance, eight years on and stronger than ever

Comedian Vaughan King is proud the Taranaki Comedy Club he founded with mate Ben Hurley has been such a success.
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Comedian Vaughan King is proud the Taranaki Comedy Club he founded with mate Ben Hurley has been such a success.

The past eight years have not only been a flourishing time for the Taranaki Comedy Club, but also for the bromance of its founders.

In 2009 Taranaki funny guys Vaughan King and Ben Hurley unwittingly kicked-off the now dyed in the wool monthly comedy acts in New Plymouth when they performed a test gig at Basement Bar.

The acts continued to come and now eight years on the club is the longest running of its kind outside of Auckland.

Comedian Ben Hurley regularly returns home to Taranaki to host the monthly Taranaki Comedy Club events.
Chris McKeen

Comedian Ben Hurley regularly returns home to Taranaki to host the monthly Taranaki Comedy Club events.

"We're pretty lucky and I'm pretty stoked to still be doing it and enjoying it," says King, who was raised in Hawera.

READ MORE: New Plymouth comedy club set for sell-out opening in new home

But for the multi New Zealand Comedy Guild Award winner, one of the most special aspects of the near decade journey was having his best mate Hurley, a 7 Days panelist and Billy T Award winner, share in the ride.

While the pair both grew-up in South Taranaki there is a few years between them and their paths never crossed until they met through work with The Ugly Shakespeare Company later in life.

"Our friendship has been very strong, he's been my best friend for many years."

The gigs run on the first Friday of every month and while King is now based in Wellington and Hurley in Auckland they continue to return to host the popular evening, regularly bringing in quality acts from around the country and abroad.

"It's like coming home, it's coming home to the 'Naki...we've always had such a great time. It's like our monthly get away together."

King, 45, says he never expected the club to take off as it has but he suspects Hurley knew it would prove popular with Taranaki folk.

Through the years audience numbers have climbed from a handful to the now near couple of hundred they regularly pull.

Tucked away amid the carousing in New Plymouth's city nightlife, he says the club's success was partly due to the Egmont St venue which he refers to as the "golden ticket."

"We used to rock into a town and test out a room, with us doing half an hour each and just seeing if the room would work," he says.

The pair had covered quite a few venues around the country, trialling different settings in what King referred to as their "test out gigs."

They were following up another comedian's recommendation when they hit the low-key bar, found underneath Peggy Gordons. With little outside interference, the space was a stand-up comic's dream, says King.

Presenting a mixed-bag of comedians, the growth of the comedy culture, knowing how to run a gig and the region's hankering for a good laugh also contributed to the boom of the club.

Last year it "left home" and took up residence at The Mayfair on Devon St West, a move motivated by renovations but also a bigger space to house its growing audience.

King says the club is now very much a part of New Plymouth and there's no chance the entertainers will be abandoning it anytime soon.

The eight year anniversary will be celebrated at August's show with comedians Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Tarun Mohanbhai and Mel Bracewell booked to take the stage.

"After eight years I think it's definitely going to get out of control in healthy way," he says.

"I'm not going to hold back, that's for sure."

* Taranaki Comedy Club - 8th Anniversary Show is at The Mayfair on Friday, August 4 at 8pm.

 - Stuff

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