In this piece of writing, I wanted to appreciate not only some of my favourite funny films specifically but writers and comedy makers from Aotearoa who have created some of my favourite comedy content in film, television, animation, current affairs and politics.
It’s been an honour growing up with the work of these makers who have conjured up stuff that has made me laugh, made me angry, taught me about culture, and the myriad of different iterations of “New Zealand-ness” that weave the cultural tapestry of our stunning little country.
It’s not only one of my favourite NZ comedies, it’s also one of my all-time fave films. It has so much heart and beauty and I fell in love with the vibrant symphony of characters in this movie. I love the Duck Rockers and their “Quack Quack for life.”
The different dynamics in their group and their chemistry is off the charts. I love Oscar Kightley’s Albert and Madeleine Sami’s Tanya paperclip-fang flirting in the office, which I remember mimicking in class at primary school with paperclips, going “I’m like a panther, ready to pounce!” after seeing the film when it first dropped in cinemas when I was about 10.
I love the mana and reverence surrounding Nathaniel Lee’s amazing Minister, and Stanley acknowledging him as “Your Highness.”
What I adore most about this film, is the significance of whānau, which I loved learning about through a Samoan lens specifically, but which is universally relatable.
Ellen is Leaving
Has gotta be up there with Jane Campion’s Peel, Taika Waititi’s Two Cars, One Night, and Zia Mandviwalla’s Night Shift, as one of my all-time favourite NZ short films. It’s not a comedy per se but I love it.
What I love about this film, is its gentleness. Whenever I watch this movie, I feel like I am looking into a little slice of time inside the lives of characters Ellen, (about to go overseas,) Hamish, (her boyfriend who is staying in Aotearoa,) and of Wellington City itself, which I remember feeling like I was seeing for the first time, when I first watched this movie in about 2014. I love that this film has the ability to do that, make me see somewhere I have grown up in a completely new way. Shot Michelle Savill. Love u Sis!!!
The humour is so subtle, it’s woven into the fabric of the story itself: In Hamish taping Ellen’s passport to his chest so that she can’t find it, then lying about not knowing where it is, instead telling her with a very straight face that it’s “up your bum.”
In the opening sequence of Ellen finding and opening her box of Going-Away gifts from Hamish, each object labeled with a witty purpose for Ellen on her time overseas, and her beautiful reactions to each of these findings. I love the sense of aroha that sits underneath this story.
bro’Town, season one
In my opinion, it’s an absolute work of genius. I love this show so, so, so much.
I love this show’s absence of political correctness working in coalition with the sharp political commentary, and pop cultural satire that leaped out of the small screen with so much irreverence and power when bro’Town dropped back in 2004, and that, in a lot of ways is still on point today. I am a huge fan of Ant Sang’s animation design and the show’s visual style. It’s so beautiful!
Jeremy Wells (Eating Media Lunch)
I can’t get over the Hate/Love relationship I have with the clip of Jeremy Wells and Sir Bob Jones yarning deviously in a studio with cigars and liquor whilst Sir Bob Jones waxes some of the gnarliest racist, sexist, xenophobic lyrical you can ever imagine, like only a Pakeha New Zealand man of the upper echelons, with humble beginnings, could.
Politically and socially, Sir Bob Jones is the actual antithesis of everything I believe and stand for in the world, but that being said, he also has this air of “Maverick-ness” about him, that other men of his generation eg. The Brutha Winnie Peets aka Winston Peters have, that I find super endearing. I really like that, in this clip, Bob Jones is conscious of the fact that he’s being a meanie, and it kind of feels like he’s taking the piss out of himself. I so admire Jeremy Wells’ ability, in this show, to make people feel at ease with the idea of making fun of themselves, and of being made fun of. If it was me in that studio, I’d just get angry at Sir BJ and start kicking off.
When I think of Eating Media Lunch, I think of a cheeky rascally-scallywag, taking-the-piss kind of humour, which is really different from my own, but which I appreciate in its difference. The current affairs form, the very wry sense of humour. Watching EML on YouTube now, It kind of feels like a collection of ephemera from the era it aired on TV2.
I cherish u EML!
The Jaquie Brown Diaries
Like the Bridget Jones’s Diary of Aotearoa (Bridget Jones’s Diary is one of my absolute all-time fave movies ever.) Jackie is such a crack up. I love how neurotic she is. How self-obsessed and fallible, but so charming and loveable. Having moved up to Auckland earlier this year, it’s cracked me up walking down Ponsonby Road, or being in a cafe and catching slices of conversation, and going “Oh man, that reminds me so much of The Jaquie Brown Diaries.”
This is one of the few DVD’s my Mum and I own, and on the rare occasion that I’d take a sick day off school, I would watch the whole season – so it became a real treat for me. The episode where she interviews Bizzy Trcike is too much, and her rivalry with Serita Singh (Madeline Sami) is raw and potent.
Long Live Jaquie Brown!
Eagle Vs. Shark
Shout outs to Loren Horsley.
Boy has got to be my all time megatron absolute favourite of Taika’s films, but for me there is something really special and super relatable about the vein of tragi-comedy that laces through Eagle vs Shark. I get a similar feeling watching this movie to reading graphic novels, in that it feels like an ode to the outsider, the misfit and to a feeling of un-cool.
Man, Loren Horsely’s Lily is incredible. Like, so fragile and strong and kind and bold all at the same time.
The opening monologue of her practising her confession of love to her crush, before brushing her teeth. Her angsty running in the giant turning wheel at the playground, hula-hooping through her rejection from her job, imagining her name on confetti falling from the sky. Her letting Jarrod (Jemaine Clement) know that she is leaving tomorrow, “but that could change,” near the end of the movie. I feel inspired and encouraged by her character and her journey.
Also, the costume designs at the dress up party near the start of the film have gotta be some of Aotearoa’s finest.
This story is part of our month-long celebration of 40 years of NZ film. Follow all our daily coverage here.