Tom Furniss

Key Info

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Screen and Media Studies

Sell out solo shows in Wellington and Auckland, the 48 hour film challenge and the finals of the Billy T James Award – all part of a week’s work for former Waikato student and comedian Tom Furniss. Furniss is now waiting to see if he’s won the 48-hour film challenge for the second year running. Results should be known towards the end of June.

Tom Furniss came to Waikato University from Mount Maunganui to study economics, but it didn’t take him long to realise his talents lay elsewhere and since graduating with an arts degree majoring in screen and media he’s has been working in film and comedy.


“Film was my key interest, but a couple of years ago when I moved to Auckland for a film job, I found myself a bit bored, a bit lonely and without much going on socially, so I went to a few comedy shows, and with a bit of encouragement decided to give it a go myself.”

He says it was a short and informal comment by comedian Steve Wrigley that encouraged him to keep going with stand-up. “I did a seven minute show and when I came off Steve said to me something like ‘well done man, good show’ and that was all I needed to keep going.” Furniss opened Steve Wrigley’s show in Wellington this year.

Stand-up comedy

And this year he was also one of five young comedians nominated for the Billy T James Yellow Towel award.

Furniss says his stand-up shows are more bizarre and absurd than your typical stand-up performance, and he’s particularly interested in odd characters in unfortunate situations.


And he says stand-up and film go together well. Last year he led the group that won the 48 hour film challenge and is competing again this year, slipping away from filming for a couple of hours to do his comedy shows. “Comedy is great for getting an instant reaction – you know as soon as you deliver a line whether it’s worked or not.  For film you do a lot of work before you get a reaction, so comedy’s a good platform to test ideas.”

But he says he likes going into the 48 hour film challenge cold – with no idea about what he’ll do or how he’ll do it. “That’s the fun of it. You go in not knowing what’s going to come up, what genre you’re going to get and suddenly you’re delving into that back-catalogue of stories, probably something from your past, figuring out what’ll fit and how you’ll present it.”

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