Regional | Comedy

Aotearoa’s rookie comedian of the year says he’s always been the class clown

Aotearoa’s rookie comedian of the year, Luke Tawi of the Whanganui River, says he has always been the class clown.

He won the title after winning the Raw Comedy Quest Grand Final during the weekend in Auckland.

Being a funny guy comes naturally for Tawi, and his family is his biggest inspiration.

Tawi says, “Yeah, I’ve always been a bit of a clown, a bit of a class clown. Yeah, and then one night I saw they had a stand-up comedy gig here in Whanganui and me and my missus went along, and I was drunk as, telling my missus I could do better than these guys. My missus told me ‘So, if you’re the man, go and sign up’. So, I signed up and then the next day I get a text, ‘Are you still keen on the gig mate?’ And I’m like ‘nah’. And my missus is like, owe you said you’re the man and so yeah, I had to prove to my missus I wasn’t talking kaka.”

Tawi says his material comes from his life experiences and his family are his biggest critics.

Tawi also says, “Yes, most of my set comes from real-life experiences and I just put a cheeky twist on it, in terms of putting it together, it sort of just plays out like a story in my head, you know, and I just try and make the transition between jokes a bit smoother rather than just jump from subject to subject, you know, and yeah, my missus, she tells me whether my jokes are funny or not, and yeah, my kids, they listen to it too, if they can laugh, everyone can laugh.”

Tawi made his debut into the stand-up comedy scene just one year ago at Porridge Watson and has since enjoyed his journey into the industry. He didn’t think he would win the Raw Comedy Quest grand final.

“I thought the guy who came second was going to win it. I thought I had a good chance, but I was a bit surprised when they called my name out for the winner.”

Tawi was educated at Hato Paora College boarding school in Fielding and attributes much of his competency in performing to an audience, to his time there.

“Yeah, what probably helped with me was I was at a Māori boarding school and I had to get up there. And if you can get up in front of 150 cheeky Māori boys, you can get up in front of anyone, so that helped a little bit. And I have competed in rap battles before that,” Tawi says.

Tawi’s partner, Milli Wroe, has been Tawi’s No. 1 supporter and keeps him focused and on task.

“She’s a big part of it, she’s always pushing me to do better. She can see it from the audience point of view, so she tells me when I move around too much or where I need to stand. When it gets hard with writing my stuff, she’s like, hurry up bey, you’ve got a show coming up soon. So yeah, she plays a big part of it”, Tawi says.

And like many other comedians, making people laugh and bringing happiness to people is a major factor in why Tawi does comedy.

“I enjoy making people laugh, even here at work, I’ve got some mean banter going on with the boys all day, so, you know, trying to find a funny situation out of the worst things is what I like to do.”