Nominated for a Billy T Award last year and missing out to Nick Gibb clearly hasn't done South African stand up Urzila Carlson any harm whatsoever.
Her 2012 show "I'm Going to Need a Second Opinion" has sold out its run and she's been widely praised for her performance in the Comedy Gala this year, as well as on the circuit for the amount of hard gigging she's doing. Hell, she's even performing her show in South African as well....
And it's no surprise - she exudes confidence, swagger and presence on stage, right from her very intro, she manages to set the crowd at ease. It's a rare talent to have everyone eating out of the palm of your hand from the beginning, but Urzila's mastered it.
I think it's Urzila's honesty and openness that makes her such an appealing proposition on stage; sure, the set's peppered with some pretty racy moments and near the knuckle comments, but by using her own self deprecation and a sly nod and wink to the audience as she dispatches this stuff, she makes you feel part of the experience rather than simply being spoken to for an hour.
She's also incredibly quick witted and ready to react to what the audience throws her way. I'm not talking heckling (goodness knows there seems to be less of this at the festival this year) but if they react to a comment or answer a question in that traditionally Kiwi reluctant way, she's ready to make that part of her repartie. For example, she tells us she's quit smoking for three months now and the audience barely offers up any support; without hesitation, Urzila's response "Thanks for not over-reacting."
This year's show is a very personal one and there's one section of it when Urzila reveals something very close to her that you can feel the in take of breath from the gathered crowd. I'm loathe to spoil the reveal but it's testament to Urzila's dry, naughty wit that at this point of the show, you feel like you know Urzila and what's happened to her. It's an even more impressive feat when you realise that Urzila's really only been doing stand up for about four years now.
Thanks to naughty touches, a self effacing and self deprecating quick wit, a spade is a spade approach, Urzila's show demonstrates an artist on top of their game and a comic New Zealand deserves to be incredibly proud of - I personally believe her star is about to go supersonic and hopefully, global.