Capping Show

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Erin Morris, Aaron Mayes and Ben Blakely. Members of the 2009 cast.

The Capping Show is the name given to the University of Otago student revue. It has run since 1894 making it the world's second longest running student revue. Each year the Capping Show is roughly 2 hours long and made up of comedy sketches and musical numbers. It touches on many of the current and not so current events of the past few years, satirizing people and problems in an uncommonly brash manner. Since the University of Otago is located in Dunedin, a good section of the show makes fun of the Dunedin and the University. It is currently being performed at the College Auditorium at the University of Otago. Previous locations include the Regent Theatre and Castle lecture theatre. The Capping Show also features the comic talents of the Sexytet, the traditional Capping Sextet, the Selwyn Ballet and the Knox Farce.


The show generally follows the same format since the late-1990s, although there have been minor alterations.

2008 Capping Show: The Capping Show Begins... Forever (returns)

Main Sketch[edit]

A main sketch was introduced by Roger Hall and Lisa Warrington in the late 80s to introduce structure to the show. The main sketch has a central theme that is followed through its various scenes. The theme is usually either based on a pop culture movie/book (Batman) or a general idea (e.g. The end of the world). The current format of the main sketch involves a video opening and three scenes in the first half. The second half also consists of three or four scenes.


A majority of the show is made up of single sketches. These sketches are unrelated from the main sketch and usually resolved by the end of the scene. In rare occasions, the sketch may link with another sketch later on. The length of the sketches can range from very short (~10 s) to quite long (4-5 min).


Since 2006, video sketches have been introduced to the show. Originally used only in the main sketch, they recently expanded to stand alone sketches as a way of covering scene changes. Now they are a vital part of both the main and stand alone sketches. They are displayed on a projector screen next to the stage.

Musical Numbers[edit]

The show usually contains a musical number at the opening and closing of the show. Both numbers are themed with the main sketch and involve the full cast. The lyrics of the songs chosen are changed to relate to the show. The music is usually played by a live band, though some years the music + lyrics have been pre-recorded. While it does not happen every year, other musical numbers can occur throughout the show and these don't relate to the main sketch.

Some of the starring members of the 2009 Selwyn Ballet


The Capping Sextet is a male voice ensemble consisting of six members who sing three songs during each half of the show. Originally appearing in tails, in the mid part of the 20th century clown costumes became a feature, with the addition of perroit make up coming in the mid 1970s. Today they appear in the clown costume in the first half and tails after the interval. Their songs are either original or versions of well known songs with the lyrics changed. Earliest surviving records show a group called 'The Coons' appearing in 1903. This group were then called the Sextette in 1912, and after various changes in size the name and number the format of six singers and the name Sextet become the standard from the early 1920s.


The Sexytet is the female version of the sextet and perform three songs during the second half. They joined the capping show in 2001.

Selwyn Ballet[edit]

The Selwyn Ballet is an all male ballet company made up of students from the Selwyn College, Otago. Since starting in 1928 they perform a ballet number at the end of the first half.

Best of[edit]

Occasionally, usually every three years, a show is put on as part of the Dunedin Fringe Festival. Usually 40 minutes long, it consists of sketches from the previous three years of capping show. The most recent one was in the 2011 Fringe festival.


In 2010 Rape Crisis Dunedin accused the Sextet of trivialising rape and sexual abuse. In response, the line within the offending sextet song was removed. Rape Crisis Dunedin declined to be the Otago University Students Association (OUSA) official Capping Show charity for that year. Rape Crisis Dunedin was the official Capping Show charity again in 2014.

Capping Show themes[edit]

  • 2014 - A Capping Carol: The Night Before Hyde Street
  • 2013 - The Wizard of Oz
  • 2012 - Capocalypse
  • 2011 - Let There Be Capping Show
  • 2010 - Alice in Cappingland
  • 2009 - Ghostbusters: The Capping Show
  • 2008 - The Capping Show Begins
  • 2007 - Pirates of the Capping Show
  • 2006 - 2 Crass 2 Humorous
  • 2005 - Back to the Capping Show
  • 2004 - 007: You Only Laugh Twice
  • 2003 - Scarfie Wars
  • 2002 - Harry Pothead gets the Philosopher Stoned
  • 2001 - Hannibal Lecturer
  • 2000 - Scarfies
  • 1999 - Otagotubbies
  • 1998 - Spice: The Capping Show
  • 1997 - Up The Deep End
  • 1996 - The Y Files
  • 1995 - The Jesus Christ Not Again Capping Show
  • 1994 - Still Crazy After All These Years (Centenary show)
  • 1990 - Hokonui Jones and the Sword of Destiny
  • 1989 - Startreck
  • 1986 - Robin Hood

Past members[edit]

  • David McPhail - Actor/Writer
  • Jon Gadsby - Actor/Writer
  • Jeremy Elwood - Stand Up Comedian/Actor
  • Simon McKinney - Stand Up Comedian/Actor
  • Matt Gibb - Children's Television Host
  • Tom Hazledine - Director/actor
  • Chris Taine - Documentary Director
  • Josh Thomson - Stand Up Comedian/Actor/Director
  • Roger Hall - Playwright
  • Brent Hodge - Documentary Director/Producer
  • Serena Cotton - Actor
  • Samantha Jukes - Actor
  • Timothy Foley - Actor
  • Julie Noever - Theatre Director
  • Mark Neilson - Actor/Writer
  • Sam Smith - Writer/Comedian
  • Andrew Munro - Actor