New Zealand Comedy School
New Zealand's only complete course in comedy

NZ Comedy school

Learn the
Art of
Stand-Up Comedy

You're funny. Get on stage.

Have you always wanted to try stand-up comedy but don’t know where to start?
Do you perform comedy and want to improve your skills?

Comedian, writer, and lifelong teacher Neil Thornton brings you New Zealand's only comprehensive stand-up comedy course.

  • Find comedic ideas and explore them creatively

  • Write jokes and structure an act

  • Improve your skills as a performer and presenter

  • Overcome stage-fright 

Free Workshops

Wellington Free Workshop
6 August, 7:00pm
Cavern Club, 22 Allen St. Te Aro

Auckland Free Workshop
1 August, 6:00pm
Classic Studio, 321 Queen St. 1st Floor

Learn the basics of joke-writing and stand-up comedy performance. I’ll show you techniques for generating ideas and getting those ideas onstage, as well as how to avoid many common pitfalls. $4 or Koha for class handouts.

Sign up here

Short courses

Comedy Bootcamp [Currently FULL!! but you can sign up for the waitlist.]
Saturday and Sunday, 27-28 July.  10:00am-4:00pm ($100)
Are you an absolute beginner working up the nerve to do your first open mic?
Are you an experienced performer looking to bring your skills to the next level?
This two-day workshop will consist of an intense mix of writing exercises, performance games, and personal feedback--all designed to help you generate new material, punch up the material you have, and find tools for squeezing the most laughs out of it onstage. Ready to level up?

Sign up here

The full course!

Wellington and Auckland Classes starting in August:

  • Four 2-hour sessions of writing, performance, feedback, and exercises

  • Two one-on-one writing sessions with Neil

  • A prime-time spot in a comedy showcase with a professional MC

  • A high-definition video of your graduation performance to share with friends

In the group classes, we’ll develop your material and performance skills. In two private one-on-one writing sessions, we’ll polish your material further. By the time of your graduation showcase, you will have a funny, original, and well-rehearsed routine ready to impress any audience.

At your graduation, you’ll have a prime-time spot in a comedy show with a professional MC. This is a great time to invite your friends and family to show off your skills. We will also make a high-quality video of your performance that you can take with you or post to your socials.


Wellington August Sessions ($300):
Tuesdays (Te Aro)

Free intro class: 6 August
Class 1:
13 August
Class 2: 20 August
Class 3: 27 August
Class 4: 3 September
Graduation show: 6 September, 8:00pm

One-on-one writing sessions to be scheduled.

Sign up here

Auckland August Sessions ($300):
Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (Classic Studio, Auckand)

Free Intro Class: 1 August, 6:00pm
Class 1:
Friday, 2 August, 5:30pm
Class 2: Saturday, 3 August, 3-6pm
Class 3: Thursday, 8 August, 6-8pm
Class 4: Saturday, 10 August, 3-6pm
Graduation show: Thursday, 15 August, 8:00pm

One-on-one writing sessions to be scheduled.

Questions? fill out a contact form below!

or Sign up here

One-On-One sessions

Want to spend some time punching up your material? Need a brainstorming session? Do you have a performance video you'd like to review?  Neil is available for private one-on-one writing and feedback sessions. Contact him for rates.


Other courses in the works:

Comedy Writing BootcamP
MC Skills and Crowd-work

Neil is an accomplished teacher of writing, presentations, and pedagogy (See full bio). He is trained and available to teach the following courses:

- Humorous Presentations
- Professional Presentations
- Creativity Bootcamp
- Technical Writing
- Creative Nonfiction Writing

The thoughtful, respectful feedback paired with Neil’s infectious energy brought out the best in everyone’s comedy. Would highly recommend to anyone who has ever thought of trying stand up.
— Ashleigh Hume

Diversity Scholarship!

Submissions open!

We have funds from generous donations and show revenues to offer full diversity scholarship seats for the August rounds of the NZ Comedy School in Wellington and Auckland. Schedules Below!

Open to people who want to contribute to the growing diversity of voices in New Zealand comedy and performing arts. Open to all considerations of diversity: ethnic, cultural, age, economic, gender, sexuality, ability, etc. etc. etc.

To apply, send me an email ( telling me about yourself, your background as a person and performer, and what you hope to achieve through this class (and which class you want to do). Why do you want/deserve this scholarship? If you want to nominate someone else, yay! Email me and we’ll discuss.

You have to be willing and eager to commit to all the classes, homework, writing sessions, and the graduation show, and then be determined to continue adding your voice to the world after the class is through.

Questions? Applications? want to DONATE to the fund?

[All applications welcome! The recipient will be selected by committee, but the criteria for the scholarship is open to the discretion of the school administration. If during a scholarship round a recipient is not identified, the scholarship will be carried over to the next funding round.]


About Neil Thornton

In addition to his career as a stand-up comedian, Neil Thornton has been teaching for more than 25 years. He earned his BA in English from Carnegie Mellon University and his MFA in writing from the University of New Orleans.

He published fiction and essays in several literary journals and magazines and taught college English for 9 years, running classes in Writing, Composition, Literature, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Technical Writing, and Managerial Communication.

After moving to New York City in 2007, Neil became a working stand-up comic, performing everywhere from major comedy clubs to seedy dive bars in Washington D.C., Provincetown, Fire Island, and the Poconos. More recently, what was supposed to be a six-month adventure in New Zealand has turned into a permanent home. 

Since then, Neil has made a big impact on the New Zealand comedy circuit. He has toured up and down the country and all over the world, entertaining audiences with his battles of understanding Kiwi culture and finding his own identity. He's a regular at The Classic in Auckland, and appeared in the TV3 comedy special "After Hours."

Neil now teaches from Wellington, New Zealand, where he continues to write, perform standup, and raise two giant Alaskan Malamutes.

“Thornton is just a master of the craft of comedy – the room is totally unified and he knows how to follow our responses.” - Theatreview

"A bold performer with intelligent material. Constantly amusing and thought-provoking." -


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Neil’s comedy site:



Find out More!

Sign up for any of the workshops. Ask me questions. Join my mailing list!

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