Sam Willis

Sam Wills began his performing career in Timaru at the age of thirteen, when he became apprenticed to a clown. He has since mastered a diverse range of performance styles and skills; he holds a diploma in New Circus from Christchurch Polytechnic’s circus school and taught juggling there for two years. His interest in the phenomenon of traditional circus freak shows and influences such as the Jim Rose Circus and the Tokyo Shock Boys led to experiments with shock comedy, earning him his first Pulp Comedy appearance, the Best New Face award for the 2001 season, and the title ‘Prince of Cringe’ from Truth and TV Extra magazine. Until his move to Auckland in 2002, Sam was a driving force in the Christchurch entertainment scene, featuring at balls, private functions and corporate events, running weekly comedy nights and appearing on local television.January 2002 saw Sam move to Auckland to become resident comedian at Sky City Casino. His weekly show, the NCB Comedy Hour, is now in its fourth year and continues to push the boundaries of comedy performance with its unique blend of impressive circus skill and vaudeville style.

In addition to weekly Casino shows, Sam’s performance schedule is busy and varied. He appears regularly at The Classic comedy club as both an MC and a feature act. Not limited to physical comedy, Sam has worked professionally as an improviser and as a sketch comedian. Sam has also devised and performed six New Zealand International Comedy Festival shows, both alone and with others: Cabaret Xtreme (2001), Sam Wills: Prince of Cringe (2002), An Evening with Wills and Spencer (2003), Blink (2003), A Street Show: Its Better Out Than In! (2004) and Dance Monkey Dance: The Evolution of Sam Wills (2005).

He is a prominent performer at many festivals, including Auckland’s arts festival AK05, for which he was a late club MC, and both the 2004 and 2005 World Busker’s Festival in Christchurch. He was an MC for the New Years Eve First Night celebrations at the Aotea Centre in both 2004 and 2005, which saw audiences of up to 30 000.

Sam toured the country's universities as part of the 2003 Orientation festivities, appeared in Pulp Comedy three years running (2001-3) and performed on the red carpet at the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King World Premiere in Wellington. He was also the support act for David Strassman’s 2003 New Zealand tour, has appeared in several television commercials and has recently completed both writing and performing for a new comedy television show, Last Laugh, due to screen in late 2005. One recent gig took him to Tonga to perform before the royal family as part of the King’s great-granddaughter’s first birthday celebrations.

Sam has won several awards for his unique brand of comedy, but it was his groundbreaking solo show Dance Monkey Dance: The Evolution of Sam Wills that won him his highest accolade thus far: New Zealand’s prestigious Billy T James award.He plans to take over the world.


• Comedy