Billy T. James’ Funniest Skit

Billy T James in the 1980s.
I’ve been back in New Zealand two weeks now while I await my posting with Princess Cruises as an Assistant Cruise Director and when you don’t have a job and the weather is rank, you have a bit of time on your hands. This manifested itself in a game of “What Would That Cricketer’s Biography Be Called?” as I proceeded to tell my modest number of Twitter followers to read the likes of Nothing Short Of A Length Thanks by Michael Papps, What Am I Doing Here? by Mark Haslam, Richard Reid All About It, and Better Latham Never – The Rod Latham Years amongst many, many others. By the time I’d waxed lyrical about the non-existent page-turner Roydon by Roydon Hayes – a chap who played one solitary ODI for the Black Caps in the 90s – I knew/was explicitly told it was time to stop.
The Tropical House at the Winter Gardens – The Auckland Domain.
My time was better spent yesterday when I ducked off to the Winter Gardens at the domain and sat in the Tropical House. As the name suggests, it’s pretty tropical in there and with all those oversized plants taking me back to the Malaysian childhood every single one of my friends is sick of hearing about, I wondered why I hardly ever went there during the 20 years I lived in Auckland.

Back at friends Justin and Amy’s, I found a book about the great Kiwi comic Billy T James who died just 42 years old in 1991. Word is a biopic is in the works and provided they can find an actor funny enough to play hands-down the funniest New Zealander ever to grace our screens, it will make for a terrific tale.

The years have softened some of the facts of Billy T James’ life. As a kid who missed the Billy T James Show first time around, but saw the reruns in the 90s after he’d died, I never knew he’d suffered numerous death threats at the height of his fame. Bullets were even fired at his home and with arrests never made, speculation still exists whether it was white rednecks or radical Maori who were to blame. Intriguing that a Kiwi who did so much to bring Maori and Pakeha together faced antagonists at opposite ends of the spectrum: the white rednecks who didn’t like seeing a successful, highly paid brown man on the TV every night and the Maori who felt his portrayal of his own race derogatory.

The skits shown in this YouTube clip have always been my absolute favourites of Billy T James. Enjoy.

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