Former The Project NZ writer Lana Walters wins 2024 Billy T Award

Former The Project NZ writer Lana Walters has been awarded one of the top prizes in New Zealand comedy - the Billy T Award.

Walters, whose show 'Don't Lick That' played Auckland and Wellington, was given the accolade as the New Zealand International Comedy Festival wrapped up its 2024 run.

The award comes with a yellow towel and a $5000 cash grant from the NZ Comedy Trust and was named after comedian Billy T James. It is awarded to an outstanding emerging performer.

Walters was given the trophy in Auckland by previous winner Abby Howells on Sunday May 26 at SkyCity Theatre at the closing night ceremony event, Last Laughs.

The accolade was first handed out in 1997.

Paddy Gower Has Issues comedian Courtney Dawson was also awarded the Best Newcomer (Auckland) for her show Dreams Are Free.

Aotearoa comedians Barnie Duncan and Trygve Wakenshaw were honoured with The Fred Award, which is given to the festival's best show by a New Zealand comedian.

The Fred Award is named in honour of comedy icon John Clarke's legendary Fred Dagg. The winners receive a Golden Gumboot trophy and a grant of $5000.

Other award winners from the Last Laughs event include:

  • Best Newcomer (Auckland): Courtney Dawson with Dreams Are Free
  • Best Newcomer (Wellington): Samuel Gebreselassie with I'm A Refugee... Get Me Out of Here!
  • Festival Director's Choice Award: Rhys Mathewson with 10th Rodeo
  • Best International: Rhys Nicholson with Huge Big Party Congratulations.