Guy Montgomery and Abby Howells win top prizes at 2023 NZ International Comedy Festival

Abby Howells and Guy Montgomery won the big prizes at the comedy festival.
Abby Howells and Guy Montgomery won the big prizes at the comedy festival. Photo credit: Twitter - Guy Montgomery

The host of ThreeNow's Guy Montgomery's Guy Mont-Spelling Bee and a comedian who quit stand-up after being harassed by a fellow comic have won New Zealand's biggest comedy prizes of the year.

Guy Montgomery took home the prestigious Fred Award, which recognises the Comedy Festival's Best Show by a New Zealand comedian. He received the iconic Golden Gumboot and a prize package including a cash grant of $5000 from the New Zealand Comedy Trust. The Fred award is named after Fred Dagg.

Mongtomery's success in Aotearoa follows performances at the Melbourne and Sydney comedy festivals, where his show was awarded 'Best of the Fest' in Sydney. He begins a nationwide New Zealand tour this coming weekend.

Abby Howells won the Billy T Award, which is awarded annually to an outstanding emerging performer. She took home the prestigious Yellow Towel for the Billy T Award and a $5000 cash grant from New Zealand Comedy Trust.

The New Zealand Herald reported Howells told the audience at the Last Laughs ceremony she had quit the comedy scene for seven years after being sexually harassed by another comedian. She made a return to the stage in 2019.

Howells' show La Soupco was based on a "screenplay" she'd written when she was 11. 

Posting online, Montgomery said he was "so pumped" to have won.

"One of the best nights of my life! So pumped up to win the Fred award and made so much more special by doing it alongside [Howells] who won the Billy T. Thank you to everyone who came to my show in the last four months. Comedy actually rocks," he posted.

Montgomery told Newshub he felt "very honoured."

"I am over the darn moon! I feel very honoured to have won the Fred and very excited to see Abby win the Billy T. New Zealand comedy is funny and for today at least, I am the funniest."

Other award winners announced at 2023 NZ International Comedy Festival's Last Laughs event include:

  • Best Newcomer (Auckland): Kura Turuwhenua for Hōhā Guy
  • Best Newcomer (Wellington): Orin Ruaine-Prattley for I'm Busy
  • Director’s Choice Award: Liv Parker for Werewolves, Vampires and Harry Styles
  • Best Debut: Anthony Crum and Bailey Poching for Hot Filthy Garbage

The Last Laughs show included sets from all the 2023 nominated Billy T Award acts, as well as a headline performance from Michele A'Court.

The event will broadcast on Three and ThreeNow from Thursday, June 1.