The 15th Annual Sydney Comedy Festival – Nina Oyama

The 15th annual Sydney Comedy Festival


INTERVIEW: Nina Oyama Needs a Lift

Nina Oyama is performing her show ‘Nina Oyama Needs a Lift’ at the 15th annual Sydney Comedy Festival. The Festival takes place from 22nd April to 19th May.

Tickets available from

What’s your name and how do you introduce yourself?

My name is Nina Oyama – I’m a comedian, writer and anxiety-haver from Sydney, Australia.

We want to have a chat about the comedy scene in Australia which has been blowing up the last few years. What do you think makes Australia such a great place for stand-up comedy?

I think Australians have a really self-deprecating sense of humour, and we aren’t afraid to take the piss out of ourselves. We also like to laugh a lot. 

Australians make for great comedy audiences. I think it’s partially because we love a joke – but also we love alcohol, and everything is a lot funnier when you’re drunk. 

Each year the comedy and fringe festivals in Australia just keep getting bigger and better. How do you think these stand up against the Edinburgh Fringe Festival ?

I haven’t been to Edinburgh Fringe yet but I’ve heard there are a lot of cool old castles there. I know Australian Fringe Festivals are slowly becoming more popular but until we have castles, we will always be second to Edinburgh. The problem is – you can’t just build an old castle – you have to build a new castle, and then over time it gets old. Basically what I’m saying is, we if we start building castles right now, in 100 years we will finally have the #1 Fringe Festival in the World. 

We’ve been showcasing Aussie comedy shows for 19 years and we’re super proud to see where the industry has gone. Are there any Aussie comedians or people in the industry who you feel have been major driving forces to this growth? Who and why do you think they’ve made such an impact?

Yes – Zoe Coombs Marr, Hannah Gadsby and Nazeem Hussain are all killing it on the world stage, and really changing the game when it comes to stand-up comedy. All of them are defying the narrative that stand-up comedy needs to be like, a white guy complaining about aeroplane food or Tinder. I dig it. 

Australia’s also had some major viral comedy talent emerge over the last few years, do you have a favourite? And what is it that you love?

I love Aaron Chen, Aunty Donna and Demi Lardner, all of them do anti-comedy really well. I stan!

Australia has a great grassroots comedy club scene much like the UK and Ireland with a few pubs, bars and places like the Comedy Store that run great shows regularly through the week. Do you have any favourites?

Yes! I love The Comedy Lounge in Sydney, also a new room in Sydney called What She Said – it’s on a Sunday and sells out every week. It features female comics but also encourages really alternative comedy – people mucking about with different sound cues, props, clowning and overall different types of performance. 

Can you recommend any acts we should try and get out to see at the Sydney Comedy Festival:

Bec Charlwood & Sian Smyth
Lauren Bonner

Double Denim

Luke Heggie

Tom Walker

Suren Jayemanne

Can you tell us your top 5 Comedy clubs or nights in Australia?

Spleen Bar (Melbourne)

The European (Melbourne)

Comedy Lounge (Sydney)

What She Said (Sydney) 

The Comedy Store (Sydney)

And your top 5 local comedians?

Anne Edmonds

Sam Campbell

Double Denim

Ben Russell

Greg Larsen

And your top 5 international comedians?

Rose Matafeo

Ali Wong

Patti Harrison

Kyle Kinane

Hannibal Buress

For large scale comedy shows which venue do you think is the numero uno for big-name shows? What’s so special?

The Comedy Store, The Comedy Lounge in Sydney or Spleen in Melbourne – sometimes they have really international big name guests drop in unannounced.

And what about for discovering or emerging new talent?

For emerging talent – Hemingway’s in Sydney. 

What’s your favourite comedian’s joke of all time?

Kyle Kinane’s bit about insomnia, which devolves into a meditation on whether or not you could barbeque meat by shooting it over a volcano.  I can’t explain it – you’ll just have to find it and listen. 

And your favourite one-liner?

Mitch Hedberg: An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You should never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience.

Where can we see you in the near future?

I’ll be at Melbourne and Sydney Comedy Festivals also on TV in Utopia Season 4. 

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