Writer, producer and actor Millen Baird made a splash with his award-winning comedy show The Millen Baird Show, before going on to make the popular web turned TV series Auckland Daze. Baird has also appeared in TV dramas Being Eve and The Almighty Johnsons, and took his top off for Step Dave.
Thanks to BBC sketch show Not the Nine O'Clock News, Rowan Atkinson was a BAFTA-winning comedy star when he toured New Zealand back in 1983. Atkinson and Kiwi reporter Chas Toogood hatched a plan to turn the clichéd celebrity interview on its head, by Toogood never actually getting to interview his quarry. Atkinson shot each scene just once. The piece was done for regional news show Top Half in an Auckland hotel, near the end of a Kiwi tour. Atkinson's show Blackadder had debuted just two months previously. He would go on to star as Mr Bean and Johnny English.
Anna Campion directs her mother Edith and younger sister Jane in this slyly observed short: a re-imagining of Edith’s (reluctant) audition for a small role in Jane’s An Angel at My Table. From when Edith picks Jane up at the airport en route to her Otaki home, the professional and personal roles blur. Anxiety, huffs and matriarchal needling ensue as an often comic, sometimes poignant domestic tango between the former stage actress and film director Jane plays out in front of the camera. Anna was studying at London’s Royal College of Art when the film was made.
Kiwi avant-garde artist and musician Phil Dadson is the subject of 80-minute documentary Sonics from Scratch. Dadson has conjured sounds and experimental films from all manner of objects and locales. The documentary charts his love affair with sound, including performances with From Scratch, who created percussive music from PVC pipes. Among those appearing are some of the group's rotating ensemble of members, including Don McGlashan and cinematographer Leon Narbey. Sonics from Scratch screened at the 2015 New Zealand International Film Festival.
Millen Baird found comedy after deciding there was no future for him in being a tax accountant — yes, a tax accountant!
In 1988 comedy group Funny Business managed the jump from stand-up to headlining their own hit TV show. This Funny As interview sees Dean Butler, Willy de Wit, Ian Harcourt and Peter Murphy covering many topics, including: "Making it up" as they went along — "We really didn't know what we were doing" How their routine involving an airbourne pet toaster once caused $3,500 worth of damage Their first gig at Auckland's Windsor Castle turning into a bi-weekly run that lasted for two years TVNZ taking a "huge risk" in commissioning the first Funny Business TV series Being "blown away" while performing at Canada's Just For Laughs comedy festival in 1990 What the group's members are doing now, including Willy de Wit's recovery from a 2016 stroke
Amanda Billing played the "neurotic, belligerent but deeply sensitive" Doctor Sarah Potts on Shortland Street for 10 years. Billing felt devastated when the beloved character died on the soap, but it gave her the impetus to pursue other work. She has gone on to act in acclaimed comedy Find Me a Māori Bride and sci-fi children’s drama The Cul de Sac.
After making his screen debut in 1988 on Margaret Mahy TV series Strangers, actor Martin Henderson spent three years on Shortland Street playing Stuart Nielsen, then moved on to Australia and later the United States. Since then he has acted everywhere from India to Sweden, and in everything from horror (The Ring) to musicals (Bride and Prejudice) to TV’s House MD. His work as Cate Blanchett’s disabled brother in drama Little Fish saw him nominated for an Australian Film Institute supporting actor award. Variety magazine called his performance 'a revelation'.
Chris Parker grew up seeing long-running improv show Scared Scriptless at Christchurch's Court Theatre. A move to Auckland and comedy troupe Snort — which fellow Snorter Thomas Sainsbury joins him here to discuss — saw him playing David Halls onstage, and becoming a head writer on Jono and Ben. Among other things, Parker discusses: Seeing himself as an actor more than a comedian Getting the role of David Halls in the Hudson and Halls stage play without an audition, and learning about Halls and Peter Hudson's lives as gay men in the public eye, "who couldn't openly be out" The apparent contradiction of being a head writer of mainstream show Jono and Ben, despite his 2015 Comedy Festival show being “a weep fest about coming out to your parents ... like 45 minutes of dancing and no jokes” Winning the prestigious Fred Award for the best show written and performed by a New Zealand comedian, for his 2018 show Camp Binch, which he notes also contained no jokes Watching and learning from fellow actors Jo Randerson and Rima Te Wiata He’s joined by fellow comedian Thomas Sainsbury to discuss Auckland improv group Snort
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