Mike King has spent his life cracking people up, although it hasn't always been easy to laugh himself. Starting out in stand-up, he began a long TV career as a comedian, chat show host, reality star and presenter of the acclaimed Lost in Translation. From the face of NZ Pork to animal rights activist, from addict to suicide prevention campaigner, King's progression has been nothing if not eclectic.
I guess anyone who works on stage, whilst we appear outgoing and confident, all of that bravado hides a whole lot of insecurities. So I guess I use the stage act as a tool to battle my anxieties. Mike King in an interview with Marlena Katene
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.
As this promotional clip makes clear, Funny As features an impressive roll call of Kiwi comedy legends. The five-part series traces the history of New Zealand comedy through interviews and archive footage. In coming weeks NZ On Screen will be publishing extended interviews with the comedy talent captured on camera for the series. Funny As ranges all the way from the early days of live comedy to screen pioneers (Fred Dagg, the Week of It team), the legendary Billy T, and the Kiwi comedians who've made their mark internationally (Flight of the Conchords, Rhys Darby).
Crime thriller The Last Saint puts Auckland’s underworld squarely in its sights. Beulah Koale (who played the killer in short film Manurewa) stars as teenager Minka, who gets caught up in drugs and romance while working for psychotic P-dealer (Joe Naufahu). The first movie directed by Shortland Street actor Rene Naufahu, this "searing local thriller" (Sunday Star-Times) was funded largely by private investors, as well as a Pledge Me campaign. Calvin Tuteao and Jared Turner are part of an impressive cast; the soundtrack includes contributions from P-Money, Six60 and Katchafire.
This 2014 documentary celebrates Māori Television’s first decade. It begins by backgrounding campaigns that led to the channel (despite many naysayers). Interviews with key figures convey the channel's kaupapa – preserving the past and te reo, while eyeing the future. A wide-ranging survey of innovative programming showcases the positive depictions of Māoridom, from fresh Waitangi, Anzac Day, basketball and 2011 Rugby World Cup coverage, to Te Ao Māori takes on genres like current affairs and reality TV (eg Native Affairs, Homai Te Pakipaki, Kai Time on the Road, Code, and more).
Auckland's home of stand-up comedy, The Classic theatre in Queen Street, is the subject of this "behind the scenes" mockumentary TV series. Anchored by MC Brendhan Lovegrove, episodes follow a night's performances; onstage routines are intercut with action from the green room and front of house. The line between reality and self-deprecatory fiction is blurry, with the participants happy to send themselves up. Show biz glamour is in short supply and, at times, it's preferable to look just about anywhere except the screen. A second series screened in 2012.
This third episode of Mike King’s Treaty series heads north. After the 43 signatures at Waitangi on 6 February 1840, Queen Victoria decreed that more were needed for the Treaty to gain legitimacy, and Governor Hobson took the Waitangi Sheet to the people. King talks to Professor Pat Hohepa about the role of missionaries, and his tīpuna Mohi Tawhai. He visits key Northland locales — where he hears of anti-Treaty Pākehā like ‘Cannibal’ Jack Marmon — and meets a descendant of Nopera Panakareao, who recalls his ancestor’s famous shadowy reading of the Treaty.
This fifth episode of comedian Mike King’s Treaty discovery series goes on the trail of the two sheets that travelled around the Bay of Plenty in 1840. One, carrying a forged signature, travelled east with young trader James Fedarb (King asks why, despite gathering 26 signatures in 28 days, the salesman is largely missing from the history books); the other went south with a pair of missionaries. King learns about the Te Arawa and Tūwharetoa refuseniks from Paul Tapsell — and from Tamati Kruger, the reason Fedarb didn’t venture into Tūhoe territory.
This sixth episode of Mike King's exploration of the original journey of the Treaty travels to Tauranga, where the comedian finds tales of murder, cannibalism, inter-tribal conflict — and a missing Treaty sheet. King’s whodunit asks why some people signed and why some were so against it, notably Hori Kingi Tupaea. The Tauranga sheet includes 20 signatures from Ngāi Te Rangi and only one chief from Ngāti Pukenga. King also discovers an unlikely twist: an unused Treaty sheet has ended up with the (then-French-aligned) Catholic Church for safekeeping.
Inspired by an epiphany at the Waitangi Treaty grounds in 2000, and after learning New Zealand’s founding document was actually several pieces of paper, comedian Mike King went on a quest to learn the stories behind Te Tiriti O Waitangi. King traces the 1840 path of the nine sheets as it accrued its 540 signatures, meets Māori and Pākehā descendants of those involved, and connects with his Māori heritage. The 10-part series screened on Māori Television. Dominion Post critic Linda Burgess acclaimed it as “dignified, conciliatory, informative ...”
Comedian Mike King retraces the 1840 journey of the nine sheets of the Treaty of Waitangi in this 10-part series. The introductory first episode explores the epiphany that inspired King to embark on “his dream project”. He rues his Treaty ignorance and lack of te reo, shares his struggle with memory loss since he suffered a stroke in 2006; and makes an emotional return home to learn about his link to the Treaty via his tīpuna. After debuting on Waitangi weekend, 8 February 2009, Dominion Post critic Linda Burgess called it “dignified, conciliatory, informative.”
Episode two of comedian Mike King’s acclaimed Treaty of Waitangi series travels to the Bay of Islands, to talk to historians and signatory descendants, and explore the background to the Treaty's original signing: from debaucherous colonial Russell to Governor Busby’s Declaration of Independence, and William Hobson’s drafting (and controversial translation) of the Treaty. Constitutional lawyer Moana Jackson, author Jenny Haworth and MP Hone Harawira give their takes on the Treaty's birth, and its reception by Māori during this pivotal time in NZ history.
After Governor Hobson’s stroke, Willoughby Shortland stepped in and sent the Treaty south in the hope of more signatories. This fourth episode of comedian Mike King’s Treaty discovery series searches for where the sheet was signed on the Manukau Harbour. King learns of an (unfulfilled) ancient prophecy, and why Ngāti Whātua chief Apihai Te Kawau agreed to sign. King then heads across the harbour and uses his mission as an excuse to visit the Kāwhia Kai Festival, where he learns about the influence of the incoming “great white wave” on signatories.
In this series prolific comedian, presenter and all round showman, Mike King tried his hand at hosting his own Letterman-style talk show Mike King Tonight. Although the show only lasted one series, it was an impressive-looking production replete with an eight-piece band headed by former Commodores base player, Ronald La Pread.
Popular comedian Mike King tried his hand at a Letterman-style talk show with this relatively short-lived TV2 series. In this final episode King’s guests are TV personality Jason Gunn, McLeod's Daughters actor Lisa Chappell, kickboxer Ray Sefo, and Australian comedy writer Santo Cilauro, who talks about working with the late Bruno Lawrence on TV series Frontline. One-time Commodores bassist Ronald LaPread leads the eight-piece house band.
This Wayne Leonard documentary from 2002 goes on a journey to explore what defines Māori humour. The tu meke tiki tour travels from marae kitchens to TV screens, from original trickster Maui to cheeky kids, from the classic entertainers (including Prince Tui Teka tipping off an elephant) through to Billy T James, arguably the king of Māori comedy. Archive footage is complemented by interviews with well-known and everyday Kiwis, and contemporary comedians (Mike King, Pio Terei). Winston Peters and Tame Iti discuss humour as a political tool.
Mike King presents the story of Gustavus Von Tempsky: swashbuckling colonial soldier of fortune, "flamboyant folk hero" and "our first pin up boy". The Prussian-born artist, self-promoter, romantic and adventurer, led an elite unit — the Forest Rangers — in the 1860s New Zealand Wars, garbed in trademark Garibaldi shirt, kilt and calvary sabre. His bush-fighting skill attracted respect from Māori foes, who named him "manu rau" (many birds); but also controversy after an infamous raid. He met his demise fighting guerilla leader Titokowaru.
In 2001 comedian Mike King (with Te Radar) traversed Aotearoa on The Mike King Laugh Out Loud Tour. In this final performance, at Auckland's St James Theatre, King recounts cultural subtleties en route, from Hamilton ("4WDs with mud on them!") to East Coast hongi. No stereotype is left unbruised, as King gives his non-PC bro-down on everything from westie pick-up lines, to sport and childbirth. King shares his favourite jokes: "Here's one you can't tell at work on Monday: a Maori, a Samoan and a Tongan are in a Commodore - who's driving? A Policeman".
Ventriloquist David Strassman has appeared on talk shows and TV specials in Aotearoa, Australia, the United Kingdom and his native United States. Strassman's first TV series debuted in Australia in 1998; the next year Strassman played on British network ITV. The basic formula of a chat show hosted by a man and a shameless puppet was then carried over to New Zealand. Strassman's alter egos include the irascible Chuck Wood and the cuddly Ted E Bare. Among his local guests were Kiwi TV personalities (Mike King, Robyn Malcolm) and the occasional musician and politician.
In this episode from stand-up comedy TV series Pulp Comedy, Rhys Darby arguably steals the show: a very limber tyrannosaurus rex impression animates a surreal tale about taking his grandfather to the movies, which results in dinosaurs running amok in Auckland's Queen Street. Elsewhere, Mike Loder's conclusion that no disgrace could lead to Tiger Woods losing his sponsorship deals, and Justine Smith's opinion that her hometown of Christchurch is rather lacking in excitement may not have quite stood the test of time.
This episode of the stand-up comedy show ends with an early screen appearance by Flight of the Conchords. The duo perform two songs that will later appear on the first HBO series, and debut album. The funky 'Ladies of the World' goes beyond Julio Iglesias, while the epic 'Bowie' (three and a half minutes into clip three) pays homage to the man whose complex changes of tempo and vocal range proved too difficult for them to play. Mike King hosts, John Glass reflects on bachelorhood and kissing etiquette, and Chris Brain references bikers, the Wiggles, Bill Gates and Star Wars.
This Greenstone Pictures' series was a mixed plate of reality TV, cooking show and Stage One Anthropology. The (Kiwi) concept is simple: presenter Suzanne Paul invades a house with a camera crew and mystery dinner guest, while restauranteur Varick Neilson cooks the occupants dinner. Special guests included David McPhail, Temuera Morrison, Mike King and Kevin Smith. Two series were screened in 1998 and 1999, with a third screening in 2004.
Pulp Comedy succeeded the talent quest A Bit After Ten as a TV outlet for stand-up comics. Its origins lay in Auckland's Comedyfest which was established to capitalise on the city's burgeoning early 90s stand-up scene. Showcases at the Powerstation led to a request from TV3 for a television series. Produced by Mandy Toogood and Simon Sinclair, it ran for eight years and provided national exposure for novices as well as leading lights like Mike King, Ewen Gilmour, Flight of the Conchords, Michele A'Court, Brendhan Lovegrove, Philip Patston and Cal Wilson.
One of New Zealand television's first forays into stand-up comedy, this talent quest based show ran for two seasons (the second as A Bit More after Ten). The hosts were Jeremy Corbett and his brother Nigel (in his TV debut), with Ian Harcourt (ex-Funny Business) as a resident judge, aided by two celebrities each week. Home viewers also voted, helping propel eventual winner Late Night Mike into the first final. Michele A'Court, Te Radar, Jon Bridges, Dean Butler and Andrew Clay all competed. All of them graduated to the show's stand-up successor, the long-running Pulp Comedy.