Millen Baird found comedy after deciding there was no future for him in being a tax accountant — yes, a tax accountant!
Starting out in Christchurch with the aim of becoming a serious actor, comedian Eli Matthewson has found his place further north, in stand-up and as a writer for television.
Joe Musaphia had a hand in writing New Zealand's first sketch show, first sitcom, and first movie musical. The prolific playwright talks in this Funny As interview about his love of comedy and other topics, including: Writing and helping out on New Zealand's first musical Don't Let It Get You — "I had to write some of the songs as well. I didn't enjoy it. I was way out of my depth." Feeling flattered that comedian Billy T James loved his presenting on 1960s kids show Joe's World Recalling a police officer being so nervous on Joe's World that he swore live on-air Having a "ball" writing and acting in 60s sketch show In View of the Circumstances Learning how to act, to enhance his writing
Roger Hall began his take over of the Kiwi stage in 1977 with Glide Time. Later the play inspired Gliding On, the first local sitcom to become a major hit.
Jon Bridges and Paul Yates met at university in Palmerston North, before performing with comedy group Facial DBX (see this Funny As interview).
Actor/director Danny Mulheron has acted alongside drug-addicted frogs, haunted automobiles, and “force of nature” David Fane. After appearing in early Kiwi soap Close to Home, Mulheron went on to act on television, stage and film - including in the cult Peter Jackson puppet movie Meet the Feebles. In the late 80s he found himself working on both sides of the camera on a run of television sketch shows. Mulheron’s lengthy directorial CV now includes drama, comedy, and documentary.
In 1969 Dave Smith acted in New Zealand's first televised comedy sketch show, In View of the Circumstances.
Being Chinese: A New Zealander’s Story author Helene Wong grew up in 1950s Aotearoa, and has worked in the arts as a performer, writer, and film critic. She discusses her varied career in this Funny As interview, including: Growing up with radio comedy, being the class clown at school, and realising that you could make people laugh with voices and accents The university capping review being a revelation and a liberation — presenting an opportunity to deal with issues and being more than just "prancing about on the stage" How the introduction of television meant being able to see politicians — "their physicality, their flaws and their body language" – providing wonderful source material for satirists Working with Roger Hall, John Clarke, Dave Smith and Catherine Downes on university revue One in Five, and mimicking three-screen promotional film This is New Zealand to open the show Working for Prime Minister Robert Muldoon in the 70s as a social policy advisor – despite spending “the previous few years having a lot of fun satirising him”– and feeling that he had a "kind of dark force field around him" Reaching a turning point in comedy about Asians in New Zealand; Asians have started to "take back the power" and "as opposed to encouraging audiences to laugh at us, we’re now getting them to laugh with us"
Actor Lynn Waldegrave found TV fame appearing on comedy shows A Week of It and McPhail and Gadsby, before relocating to London for 20 years. She discusses her long career in this laugh-filled Funny As interview, including: Memories of her father’s humour, and him having a “face for every day of the week” How an inebriated fart led to her being cast in A Week of It Working on McPhail and Gadsby and being made to do “murderous things” – but having fun Running into actor William Shatner after emerging from a lake in Hagley Park for a McPhail and Gadsby skit Public reaction when she exposed her breasts for a ‘Nude News’ skit Sending up Radio with Pictures host Karyn Hay — and how much Hay hated it
Tom Parkinson is a veteran television producer and director who has worked on iconic Kiwi TV shows such as Hunter’s Gold, Hudson and Halls and Telethon. Parkinson was a key force behind many of our hit comedies in the 70s and 80s, including Billy T James’ shows, A Week of It, Issues, and Letter to Blanchy. Parkinson is also a former Head of Entertainment Programmes at TVNZ, and helped launch TV3.