In the 2000s mockumentary realism (led by The Office) was making its mark in television comedy. Series The Pretender gave Kiwi politics the embedded camera treatment, with expat comedian Bob Maclaren playing overconfident property developer-turned-MP Dennis Plant. The first episode of the second series sees Plant cause political chaos, with the launch of his Future New Zealand party. This season was nominated for three Qantas TV awards in 2009, including best comedy. The show was created by Peter Cox (Insider’s Guide to Happiness) and Great Southern TV’s Philip Smith.
New Zealand's representatives in parliament have had some of their most memorable moments captured on camera. This collection showcases their screen legacy: from stirring addresses (Kirk), feisty debates (Muldoon, Lange, Olympic boycotts), revolutions, nukes, and snap elections, to political punches (Bob Jones), and young leaders (Clark). Listener writer Toby Manhire writes about Kiwi politicians on screen here.
This posthumous series — produced by Ginette McDonald — collects segments from Billy T’s long running skit based comedy series. Some of his most cherished creations are here: the giggling Te News newsreader, Cuzzy in his black shorts, and the chief bemused by Captain Cook. Support comes from a seasoned cast including Peter Rowley, David Telford and Roy Billing (with cameos from Bob Jones and Barry Crump). Some of these skits are essentially elaborate setups for one line jokes but Billy T’s infectious warmth and good humour inevitably carry the day.
The debut episode of McPhail and Gadsby plunged into religion as the object of satire, and the result spawned death threats and annoyed letters to the editor. The pair dress up as angels, devils, monks, nuns, priests and Moses, and also make the first of many appearances as the smug Denny (McPhail) and not so clever Ron (Gadsby). McPhail argued later that a simple sketch involving an Anglican vicar dispensing communion unexpectedly caused the most offence. The thematic approach was soon abandoned in favour of shorter episodes, and a more familiar style of topical satire.
A Week of It co-creator David McPhail is a verifiable Kiwi comedy legend.
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
Mark Wright is an actor who is well known for impersonating celebrities and sports stars on television. He has appeared on a number of primetime comedy shows including Issues, That Comedy Show and Newsflash. Wright has also appeared in TV dramas Shortland Street, City Life, Nothing Trivial and Harry.
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
Best known for her impersonations of former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, Pinky Agnew is a writer, comedian, and marriage celebrant.
A Week of It was a pioneering political satire series. This episode from the first series tackles topical issues — many of which will seem bewildering to a 21st Century audience. Ken Ellis and David McPhail discuss the great NZ work of fiction and Jon Gadsby presents Māori news. Annie Whittle and McPhail act out how babies are made; there's a Justice Department recruitment film; interviewer (and future royal PR man) Simon Walker is sent up; the sex habits of the 1977 Lions rugby tour are covered, as is wisdom of sheilas on racehorses. McPhail writes about the show's launch here.