Christchurch-born Cal Wilson began her career as an actor but is best known for her comedy work. The founder of world champion theatresports team The Court Jesters, Wilson co-won the inaugural Billy T comedy award in 1997. She has made frequent appearances on television, including a host of comedy shows on both sides of the Tasman (Have You Been Paying Attention?, Pulp Comedy). Wilson wrote for hit show Willy Nilly and co-presented youth show The Drum. In 2019, she was one of two Kiwi comedians invited to perform on Netflix's Comedians of the World stand-up series.
After a while, they just decided they were tired of hearing from us, and they just pelted us with chicken drumsticks until we left … And so we just leave under a hail of chicken fire ... it's like Saving Private Ryan but with chicken drumsticks instead of bullets. I mean, if we'd thought more clearly, we would've caught some so we could've had something to eat on the way home. Cal Wilson on her worst comedy gig (at a chicken factory), in her extended interview for 2019 TV series Funny As: The Story of New Zealand Comedy
Funny As traces the history of New Zealand comedy through archive footage, and extensive interviews with local comedy talent. Debuting on TVNZ 1 in July 2019, the five-part series explores how Kiwis "have used comedy to navigate decades of profound cultural change". Funny As touches on everything from live and musical comedy, to pioneers of Kiwi screen humour (e.g. Fred Dagg, Lynn of Tawa) and the hit exports of later years (Flight of the Conchords, Rose Matafeo). The series was made by production/creative agency Augusto, and produced by comedy veteran Paul Horan.
Since debuting in 2009, award-winning panel series 7 Days has introduced a range of Kiwi comedy talents to television audiences. Three's show takes an irreverent look at the past week in the news, with regular segments like “my kid could draw that” and “what’s the taxi driver talking about”. Jeremy Corbett hosts; the two teams of regular and guest comedians have included Paul Ego, Dai Henwood, Ben Hurley and Urzila Carlson. The show echoes the format of Britain's long-running Mock the Week. Corbett has described 7 Days as the comedy show he's always wanted to make.
In this early, Edinburgh-centric episode of arts show Frontseat, Flight of the Conchords return to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a sellout third season — although they argue the new show is “a shambles”. Also present at the fest are an array of Kiwi technicians, performers, and arts programmers. Meanwhile in his Marlborough vineyard, globetrotting cinematographer Michael Seresin critiques Kiwi society and its ugly towns, and calls New Zealand a “lonely, soulless sort of nation”. Also on offer: Artist Phil Dadson in Antarctica, and award-winning dancer Ross McCormack.
This special episode of the TV stand-up comedy series showcases a newly blonde Cal Wilson and features guests Flight of the Conchords, who spoof small town tourism operators, take office supplies as metaphors for love to absurd lengths, and serve up some overly polite, self censored gangster rap. Wilson's other friends are her own creations. Katie the Chief Bridesmaid's contribution to nuptial disharmony invokes Rowan Atkinson's 'Father of the Bride Speech' by way of Lyn of Tawa, while her "sister" Adele is a painfully earnest feminist poet in a neckbrace.
Running an impressive four series, stylish crime show Street Legal centred around a struggling Auckland law firm, home base for unorthodox lawyer David Silesi (Jay Laga'aia), and sometime girlfriend Joni Collins (Kathleen Kennard). 'Ellis's Restaurant', the first episode made following the pilot, sees Silesi defending an ex-junkie on a possession charge, and facing off for the first time on screen against Sergeant Keens Van Dam (Charlies Mesure). The episode also sees the debut of Silesi's beloved 1944 Ford Jailbar, after his Ute unexpectedly ends up in pieces.
Over four seasons, Street Legal’s slick Kiwi take on urban crime and law genres racked up a stack of award nominations - including a 2003 NZ TV Award for best drama series. Although initially wary that the Auckland setting might alienate viewers, writer Greg McGee chose a Samoan lawyer (Jay Laga’aia) as his main character, to exploit the show’s inner-city Ponsonby setting (where cafe society bumps into Pacific Island immigrant culture). Other key characters included Silesi’s lawyer ex-girlfriend Joni, and her new partner Kees, an overstressed sergeant.
Duggan stars John Bach as brooding Detective Inspector Duggan, attempting to solve murders amid the tranquillity of the Marlborough Sounds. New Zealand's answer to Inspector Morse, the show was conceived by Marion McLeod, and scripted by Donna Malane and Ken Duncum. Eleven episodes of the Gibson Group series were made, following on from introductory tele-features Death in Paradise and Sins of the Father. The turquoise waters of The Sounds make for an evocative setting in this sharp, classy Kiwi whodunit. Rachel Davies writes here about Duggan's birth.
Tamatoa the Brave Warrior follows the adventures of a young Māori adventurer and his talkative pals Moko (the tuatara), Manu (the moa) and Kereru (the kereru). In this episode Tamatoa's chances of entering the great river race look dim after Aunty Hana forces him to guard the kumara patch instead. Tamatoa reluctantly obeys, and finds himself caught up battling some crazed pukeko who want to use the kumara as a rugby ball. There may still be time to race... The series of ten minute episodes was created by the prolific Flux Animation Studios.
This animated series follows the adventures of Tamatoa, his cousin Moana and their animal mates Manu the moa, Moko the tuatara and Kereru the kereru. In this episode Tamatoa sets out with Moko and Kereru after his uncle tells him about an island where the pipi grow "as big as flax bushes", and the kina are bigger than his appetite. They arrive in search of giant kaimoana and stumble upon an army of giant hermit crabs ... it seems Tamatoa may have bitten off more than he can chew. Set in pre-colonial times, the series was made by Auckland company Flux Animation.
In this episode, the pint-sized Tamatoa sets off to rescue his talkative friend Moko the tuatara (Jason Hoyte), after Moko goes on an accidental kite journey and ends up in a swamp that is home to a brightly-coloured taniwha. Tamatoa has been warned that if he meets the taniwha, having a gift ready might help things along. The swamp is a place of many surprises: some of them with teeth, some with smiles. The light-hearted, colourfully-animated show was created by Kiwi company Flux Animation Studios.
This 'docu-soap' put six 20-somethings into a rented house for three months — including a beauty contestant and a live-in cameraman. It was one of a series of 90s reality shows observing homelife which were soon to become a phenomenon, thanks to Big Brother. But without a lockdown or 24-7 surveillance, Flatmate's charms were more quaint, offering a homespun twist on MTV's pioneering The Real World (which debuted in 1992). The show was broadcast on now-defunct channel TV4, and made a minor celebrity of outspoken flattie Vanessa.
"A social satire about an entire Antipodean generation, comfortable with what it knows best." London, 1983. It's time for a party. A group of young New Zealanders have arrived at the other end of the world to drink, play Kiwi music, search for shelter, and talk about other New Zealanders. Scripted by playwright Fiona Bartlett, this ambitious OE story plays out in one single ten minute shot (Three takes were printed). Director Jonathan Brough later directed episodes of Outrageous Fortune, The Pretender and short film No Ordinary Sun.
Skitz was a popular long-running sketch-based comedy that screened for four series. Populated with memorable characters and catch-phrases, and broad, take-no-prisoners humour, it won Best Entertainment Programme at the 1996 NZ TV and Film Awards. A particular favourite in its arsenal of regular characters was the Semisi family with their 'fresh off the boat' antics inspiring mirth and groans in equal measure. Skitz featured seasoned comedians such as Jackie Clarke, as well as new faces at the time, including Jemaine Clement of future Flight of the Conchords fame.