Q&A: Nomi Cohen

Q&A: Nomi Cohen

For everyone who’s ever sat bored through the sports or ancient history part of a pub quiz, Nomi Cohen is bringing us a thigh-slapping, head-scratching, sing-a-long musical quiz, What The Quiz is This?!

What’s What The Quiz is This?!

A live performance-style pub quiz. So instead of having general knowledge rounds or questions, we perform a medley of various songs and it’s the teams’ jobs to tell us what the name of the song is, who the artist is and – if it’s from a show – which show. There’s a whole bunch of rounds and categories, with a few extras on the side.

How do you rate your singing ability?

My mum says I’m pretty good!

What’s your favourite song to sing at the top of your lungs in the car?

‘No Air’ by Jordin Sparks. I absolutely love it – it’s my absolute jam – and made better if there’s someone in the car with me who can do the second part of the duet.

What do you hope fans take away from your Buskers Festival performance?

I hope fans have a really good time. Maybe they’ll get a little bit frustrated with not being able to get a song – I hope it’s not too easy – and I hope they walk away feeling like they enjoyed the entire pub quiz. I don’t want people to think, for example, “Oh, I didn’t know the sports questions” – there AIN’T NO SPORTS in What The Quiz is This?! – I can tell you that right now.

What type of preparation goes into your shows?

Pretty extensive preparation goes into each show. Caelan (my pianist) and I always discuss which songs we’d like to do – we gravitate towards songs we enjoy performing. We then decide what makes it too easy or too hard, what kind of fun bits we can make out of the songs. And then, of course, we discuss the secret other bits, which people just have to come along and experience!

What’s the best thing about your job?

I get to make people smile, or laugh, or even cry sometimes, if it’s really sad. I love giving people a space and an opportunity in which they feel like they can let go of emotions and escape the real world for a little while.

What’s the worst thing about your job?

Eyelash glue. Fuck that.

How did you get into this type of industry?

I was always a very loud child who loved attention. There wasn’t really another option. I was the type of kid who’d create costumes out of scarves and parade them around the lounge, basically being, like, “Look how good I am, look how fabulous I am.” And here we are.

Fave place you’ve performed at?

Q Theatre in Auckland, the Rangatira. It’s a really cool and interesting space. I love all the different levels, and what you can do with it is really exciting.

What’s a highlight of your career so far?

Creating this quiz. It’s different every time, it’s super fun, I really enjoy creating it, people love coming to it, and I can do whatever the fuck I want, which is also really fun.

Best way to relax and unwind?

I love Netflix. I really do. I love watching TV shows. I love that we live in an age in which I can just open my laptop and relax to that. I also love a good whisky at the end of the night.

Are there any other Buskers Festival acts you’re hoping to catch?

Because I am performing in Jersey Boys at the Court Theatre, for what will pretty much be the entirety of the Buskers Festival – other than the two nights I’ll be performing What The Quiz is This?! – I won’t get to see a lot of the things in the evenings, so I’m planning on heading out during the day and catching as many street performers as I can. I love Jess The Mess – she’s super fun and I always have a really good time at her shows. I am also really hoping to catch Laser Kiwi. They’re one of my favourite acts and I’m so glad they’re back this year. And the Biggest Little Circus. I also think they are amazing and I can’t wait to go and support them and all the other artists who are hitting Christchurch this summer.

Who’s a comedian who gets you rolling on the floor?

Michelle Wolf – I think she’s so intelligent and so funny, and absolutely my style of comedy.

You’re closely involved with The Court Theatre and Blackboard Theatre Collective – what cool stuff is happening in the theatre scene this summer?

I’m a proud founding member of Blackboard Theatre Collective (follow us on FB and Instagram!). It’s an absolute dream to be part of something we’ve built. I’m in Jersey Boys at the Court Theatre. Definitely book your tickets if you haven’t already because it’s legitimately selling out and is a super-fun show. With the Blackboard Theatre Collective we have some amazing things coming up in the new year. The first is a show called UGLY, which is a new musical written by a young NASDA graduate called Nicky Douglas. It’s the untold story of the stepsisters of Cinderella – so it’s kind of like an origin story. We’re really looking forward to developing that and sharing it with Christchurch on 23 and 24 January. The next thing after that is our annual Severely Queer cabaret as part of the Christchurch Pride Festival running from the 10th to 14th March. Both will be at Little Andromeda which is one of our favourite theatres.

What’s your go-to spot in Christchurch?

It has got to be The Last Word. I love a good whisky, and it has an absurd range. It’s super cosy. They’re really, really nice people, and their cheese toasties are unreal. If you haven’t been, you must.

What’s the best thing about the city in the summer?

The Botanical Gardens. I love going to visit all of the beautiful, beautiful trees and we have so many there. I’m looking forward to exploring it more as the weather gets nicer.


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