Nominees for 2019 Billy T Awards announced

Five nominees for the 2019 Billy T Awards - Photo / NZ Comedy Trust

Living up to the name of Kiwi comedic legend Billy T James is no joke.  Eighteen hopefuls performed their best sets this week in the hope of making the final five vying for the coveted 2019 Billy T Award.

Among the five nominees is Kura Forrester (Ngāti Porou), who has also worked throughout Aotearoa as an actor and a writer.  She features in one of Māori Television's latest comedies, Tongue Tied, where she plays a te reo Māori teacher called "Hihi".

Forrester quickly took to social media after today's announcement, saying she was "pumped" at the news.

Kura (centre) "pumped" to be nominated - Facebook

Another nominee, Tom Sainsbury, has a huge following of "fanburys", or fans on social media, and more recently, Kiwi television screens.  Sainsbury currently plays Jason "Sexy Eyes" Fitzpatrick, an interim receptionist on Shortland Street.

Sainsbury's fame grew largely from his impersonation of NZ politician, Paula Bennett, which he created using filters on popular messaging app, Snapchat.

The five nominees for the 2019 Billy T Award are:

• Donna Brookbanks

• James Mustapic

• Kura Forrester

• Ray Shipley

• Tom Sainsbury

The nominees will perform at the Electric Kiwi Billy T Jams on February 22 hosted by the reigning titleholder, Melanie Bracewell.

They will also perform their own one-hour shows in next year’s NZ International Comedy Festival from May 2-26 where they will be judged on their performance.

The award presentation will take place the Electric Kiwi Last Laughs on May 26.

The late Billy T James (Waikato Tainui) was a key figure in the development of Kiwi comedy.  He found success in the 70s and 80s by making the nation laugh with his wide variety of live performances and TV shows.

For more information, check out the Comedy Festival website.