Making jokes and cross-dressing as one half of comedy duo The Laughing Samoans has taken actor Tofiga Fepulea'i around the globe. The Kiwi-Samoan spent 13 years performing with Eteuati Ete; alongside a long run of concert DVDs, they starred in 2010 TV series The Laughing Samoans at Large. Since the duo disbanded in 2016, Fepulea'i has performed solo, and paired with TV presenter Te Hamua Nikora for Māori Television comedy series Hamu & Tofiga (2017). In 2019 Fepulea'i landed his first movie role, as a private investigator in Take Home Pay. The comedy follows two Samoan brothers on a trip to Aotearoa.
Everyone goes through tough times, and most of the time it's the people you have around that can make the difference of whether you get back up or stay down. Tofiga Fepulea'i in The Samoa Observer, 12 June 2017
Take Home Pay marks the third self-funded feature for writer/director SQS. Three Wise Cousins and Hibiscus and Ruthless both proved popular with audiences and critics. This 'action comedy' focusses on Samoan brothers Popo (Ronnie Taulafo) and Alama (Vito Vito) who ditch the taro fields of home for the promise of big money, picking kiwifruit in Aotearoa. When Popo steals their wages and goes AWOL, Alama calls on his relative, unorthodox private investigator Bob Titilo (ex Laughing Samoan Tofiga Fepulea'i) to help track his brother down. Magnum P.I. he ain't.
This bloopers reel from Pasifika youth show Fresh begins with a series of pieces to camera gone wrong: sibling presenters Nainz and Viiz Tupai (Adeaze) get the giggles introducing 'Fresh Games', Laughing Samoan Tofiga Fepulea'i gets his man breasts ready for action, and Pani and Pani get lyrical about raisins. 'Fob Outs' (outtakes set to Outkast’s 'Hey Ya') include Scribe missing a beat, All Black Jerome Kaino getting tongue-tied, choreographer Parris Goebel pulling faces, actors Robbie Magasiva and David Fane mugging for the camera, and Nicole Whippy getting funky.
Comedians Eteuati Ete and Tofiga Fepulea'i launched their stage act in 2003. For the next 13 years they toured Laughing Samoan shows through Australasia, the Pacific Islands and beyond. Skits lampooned PI life in Niu Sila; subjects ranged from 'island time' to funerals, and included popular characters like Aunty Tala (played by Fepulea'i). The eight-part series was conceived by Aaron Taouma and produced by TVNZ’s Pasifika department. Pairing sketches and interviews with excerpts from a Laughing Samoans theatre tour, it was given an 11pm timeslot on TV2.
This 2010 series adapted the theatre comedy of Laughing Samoans Eteuati Ete and Tofiga Fepulea’i into a show on TV2, pairing sketches and interviews with excerpts from their stage show. In this opening episode Aunty Tala (Fepulea’i) receives a sign that a prospective husband is in Wellington and takes her niece Fai (Ete) to nab him. Their tour of the capital includes Te Papa, Cuba Street, The Backbencher Pub near Parliament, and Les Mills gym. Aunty Tala flirts with All Blacks Jerome Kaino and Ma’a Nonu, opera singer Ben Makisi, Prime Minister John Key and actor Robbie Magasiva.
The Insiders Guide to Happiness follows the interconnecting lives of eight 20-something characters — one of them dead — as they search for happiness. Dramatic, comic, sexy, surreal, the drama won critical acclaim and was a ratings success. An ambitious chaos theory-derived 'meta' concept is underpinned by strong performances from the ensemble of burgeoning acting talent, and stylishly-shot Wellington city locations. The Gibson Group production won seven awards at the 2005 NZ Screen Awards, including Best Drama and Best Director (Mark Beesley)
Tagata Pasifika is a magazine-style show with items and interviews focusing on Pacific Island communities in Aotearoa. Debuting on 4 April 1987, it features coverage of Pacific Island cultural events like the Pasifika festival, plus longer documentaries. It is the only show focusing on PIs on mainstream New Zealand television. After TVNZ announced that its Māori and Pacific shows would no longer be made in-house, Tagata Pasifika veterans Stephen Stehlin, Ngaire Fuata and John Utanga took over production in 2015 through their company SunPix. Website TP+ launched in 2018.