After making his name as part of comedy troupe Funny Business in the 80s, Willy de Wit found national success when the foursome won their own sketch show in 1988. From there de Wit appeared in a host of comedy shows throughout the 90s, including More Issues, Sportsnight and Comedy Central, before becoming a host on Radio Hauraki in 1998. He stayed with the station for 12 years.
Seasoned stand-up comedian Rhys Darby played an inept band manager on cult hit Flight of the Conchords. It proved a springboard to wider fame. After acting in movies on both sides of the Atlantic, Darby starred in Kiwi rom com Love Birds. 2014 saw the debut of Darby's comedy show Short Poppies. He went on to act in the 2017 remake of Jumanji, and cameoed in local hit Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
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.
Eteuati Ete was one of the first Samoans to attend drama school Toi Whakaari. After graduating he starred in Le Matau (1984), the earliest contemporary play in the Samoan language. He had also began doing screen work, including narrating Samoan-set film Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree. In 1997 Ete was part of comedy series The Semisis and McPhail and Gadsby; in 2003 he formed comedy duo The Laughing Samoans, with Tofiga Fepulea’i. Mainly a live act, they released multiple concert DVDs, and starred in 2010 series The Laughing Samoans At Large. In 2019 he played father to the hero in movie comedy Brown Boys.
Les Andrews, QSM, began singing with the Kiwi Concert Party during World War II. After the war he studied at London’s Royal College of Music, and sang on BBC television. Back home he was one of the first faces on air when local television began transmitting, and later spent four years hosting quiz show Personality Squares. With his wife Sonia, he was a busy patron of the arts. Andrews died on 28 February 2014.
Raised in Sydney as part of a Māori-Irish family, Vicki Walker was part of a groundswell of comedy talent that made its mark in Auckland in the late 1980s. Alongside Ali Duffey, she also instigated Girls Gotta Eat, a cadre of female comedians whose shows regularly attracted 500+ audiences. Although hopes of a TV version never eventuated, Walker made her mark on-screen via sketch show Away Laughing (1991-92). Walker played the husband-hunting Felicity — thought to be New Zealand's first TV comedy character written and played by a woman. Walker has also co-hosted That's Fairly Interesting, and taught drama.
Jon Bridges developed his stand-up comedy skills as part of group Facial DBX, while studying at Massey University. In 1991 he moved into television, via sketch show Away Laughing and drama Homeward Bound; in 1995 he became a presenter on cult youth show Ice TV. By 2009 Bridges was producing the first of seven seasons of hit panel show 7 Days. The show won him two awards. In 2017 he oversaw the launch of Three's prime time show The Project. Bridges has written for kidult series Secret Agent Men and The Amazing Extraordinary Friends — plus a column for The Listener, from 2006 to 2011.
Danny Mulheron has approached comedy from almost every angle: as a writer, director, inside a hippo suit, and as co-creator of the politically-incorrect Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby. But laughter is only half the story. Mulheron has also acted in a run of productions, presented car series AA Torque Show, and directed everything from documentaries (The Third Richard) to several TV dramas about iconic Kiwis.
Writer, producer and actor Paul Yates is a comedic "everyman". His CV includes sketch shows Facelift and Telly Laughs, pre-teen series Freaky and The Killian Curse, and teen sitcom Girl vs Boy. He’s written for popular sitcoms Willy Nilly and Sunny Skies, and is producer and co-writer for Wellington Paranormal, the hit spin-off from 2014 movie What We Do in the Shadows.
The late Peta Rutter acted on stage and screen. On television, she joined the ensemble of 90s sketch series Away Laughing, appeared in dysfunctional family tale Home Movie, and played one of the heroes in Power Rangers: Mystic Force. In 1999 Rutter took a key role in big screen romance This is Not a Love Story, as a successful artist at a crossroads. Rutter passed away in July 2010, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.