June 10, 2023

All three categories are worth $1500. Montgomery’s plan for the money? “Put it straight back into the Australian economy. I’ll buy 10 coffees and it will be gone,” he chuckles.


This year’s Sydney Comedy Festival boasts more shows and higher ticket sales than before the pandemic, when numbers fell, according to festival director Jorge Menidis.

“It’s felt like the first festival that’s properly back from the pandemic,” he says, pointing to the presence of international talent this year.

Menidis is proud that the festival celebrates people from different cultural backgrounds, as well as comics working across different styles of comedy. The award winners reflect the diversity of the festival line-up, he says: “We’re seeing a crashing of barriers that would exist for all sorts of people.”

But he has long wanted to give the top gong to Montgomery, who he praised for his “unique brain”.


“I’ve wanted to award Best of the Fest to Guy Montgomery for the last couple of festivals,” says Menidis. “[His show] was a great piece of comedy and we [the judges] all genuinely left that show feeling super happy.”

Montgomery says: “That’s so nice! I’m glad he’s finally managed to achieve his goal of giving me the award. Everyone’s kicking goals!

“I feel like I’m still improving,” he adds. “I’m trying not to plateau or rest on my laurels or anything.”

Montgomery won for his eighth hour-long show, which he has been touring around Australia, and now New Zealand, since the Adelaide Fringe in March.

He started out in stand-up in Montreal in 2012, before moving home to New Zealand. He performed in Australia for the first time three years later, in 2015, as part of a split bill with fellow Kiwi comedian Rose Matafeo and in improv group Snort at Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

That first taste of the Australian comedy scene has seen Montgomery return to the country again and again.

“I get quite inspired by Australian stand-ups,” he says. “Over the 11 years I’ve been doing comedy, at different times, I’ve been influenced by comics like Aaron Chen, obviously, John Cruckshank and Luke Heggie.

“I think Australians are very funny. And so I love being able to come over and spend time and watch shows and hang out with the comics. It’s nice to feel like I’m part of the Australian comedy community as a New Zealander.”

Sydney Morning Herald subscribers can enjoy 2-for-1 tickets* to the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales during June 2023. Click here for more details.

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