Producer/director Michael Firth first made his mark directing ski movie Off the Edge. A key early film in the NZ 'new wave', the documentary earned an Academy Award nomination in 1977. Firth went on to direct dramatic features Sylvia, Heart of the Stag and Vulcan Lane. But he loved the outdoors best: he went off the edge again in 1987 with zany adventure movie The Leading Edge, and was behind internationally successful TV series Adrenalize and fishing show Take the Bait.
Costume designer Barbara Darragh is the creator of Xena’s iconic outfit, Billy T James’ look as the Tainuia Kid in Came a Hot Friday, and has won awards for her work on the feature films The End of the Golden Weather and River Queen. Darragh’s television credits include Under the Mountain, Greenstone, Hercules and Xena, and, most recently, Spartacus.
Funnyman actor Peter Rowley is best known for his appearances in a number of TV comedy shows including A Week of It, McPhail and Gadsby, The Billy T James Show, the self-titled Pete and Pio, with Pio Terei, and Letter to Blanchy. Rowley does, however, have a dramatic side which he has ably demonstrated in the feature films Savage Islands, Russian Snark and Netherwood.
Starting in the late 1980s, Matt Elliott was a pioneering Kiwi stand-up comedian. He has gone on to write 1997 book Kiwi Jokers: The Rise and Rise of New Zealand Comedy and a 2009 bio of Billy T James.
Goretti Chadwick and Anapela Polataivao have been performing as comedy duo Pani & Pani since the mid 2000s. They created and hosted TV's Game of Bros, and have appeared on Fresh. This interview includes the duo discussing: Taking the mickey out of their mums’ enthusiasm for potatoes while growing up Their early love of Billy T James, and finding the best laughs were to be had in church How a failed attempt to avoid a famous teacher at Auckland Girls' Grammar School led Chadwick to acting studies at Unitec, and later taking up comedy Polataivao finding the itch for drama through cheeky improvisation during Sunday School plays, being a founder of theatre group Kila Kokonut Krew, and why she still considers herself a dramatic actor How Pani & Pani was inspired by Charlotte Dawson advice show How’s Life?, and trying to make each other laugh How Pani & Pani are highly exaggerated versions of themselves
Actor Blair Strang shot to fame in New Zealand playing the likeable ambulance driver Rangi in Shortland Street. After six years, he quit the show and returned to law school. Since then, his acting career has been resurrected playing a range of characters in shows such as Go Girls, Spin Doctors, Doves of War, Orange Roughies and Nothing Trivial.
Guitar-playing yodellers The Topp Twins have been bringing audiences together for decades. As this Funny As interview demonstrates, Jools and Lynda Topp make for a formidable team. Among other topics, they talk about: Six decades of making each other laugh, starting from when they had to share a bath as children Making yodelling funny How an empty petrol tank and a prison cell launched their career; how busking taught them showmanship Protest, politics, loose elastic bands, and the value of "beautiful mistakes" Winning over an audience of London punks How Lynda got married before gay marriage became legal
Jamaine Ross, James Roque and Pax Assadi make up sketch comedy trio Frickin Dangerous Bro. Each are established solo stand-up comedians, but they have performed together for years (and created TV series Only In Aotearoa).
The path of comedy folk duo Flight of the Conchords is dotted with failure, dismal corporate gigs, globetrotting fans and Grammy Awards. This extended Funny As interview sees Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie savouring their memories of the early days, and all the TV shows that got rejected along the way. Among the topics mentioned are: Wearing naked suits on the streets of Melbourne while promoting an early show The perpetual challenge of singing and playing guitar at the same time The Wellington stylings of their comedy — and how creative collaborator Taika Waititi throws a mean pizza McKenzie's opinion that Pulp Comedy "wasn't very flattering or helpful" to the comedians who featured on it How they probably wouldn't have lasted if that infamous, rejected show for TVNZ had ever come to pass How the Conchords got their name
Samoan-Welsh-Kiwi James Nokise got into stand-up young, won his first break on Pulp Comedy within a year, and later commuted between NZ and the UK to perform both stand-up and theatre. Among the topics he discusses here are: Growing up between the affluent Wellington suburb of Whitby, and his father’s Samoan church community Getting his first break on Pulp Comedy alongside a plethora of talented performers, and getting cocky onstage How a night drinking with overseas comics Ed Byrne, Glen Wool and Lewis Black convinced him that he needed to pursue comedy as a career — and how fellow comic Eteuati Ete convinced Nokise's dad to let him "Accidentally" writing his first play — by writing a comedy show that wasn’t funny — and being nominated for a Chapman Tripp Theatre award The 2011 breakthrough success of political satire Public Service Announcements, and the new generation of satirists that have emerged since the play was first performed Struggling with stand-up in the United Kingdom, the UK success of fellow Kiwi comedians, and how sports stars Tana Umaga and Stephen Fleming helped get him free drinks