TV3’s Funny Girls, New Zealand’s funniest sketch show in years, comes to the end of its current run this week. In celebration of its triumphant first season, we asked the team to tell us the stories behind their favourite sketches.
Rose Matafeo: ‘Makeup Tutorial’
This was one of the first sketches I wrote for the show when it first started, sort of before we even knew what it was. All I knew is that it should be the kind of show where there should be sketches of me drawing dongs on my face in a safe environment. It turned out there wasn’t much point writing the sketch out, since I pretty much had to ad lib the whole thing in one take.
We’d just finished filming the ‘Game of Thrones for Women’ ad and we had a little extra time at the end of the day. We did it in one take! How amazing of an actor am I??? Well, we only did one because I didn’t want to draw another dick on my face, but still. It was quite hard to do it with a straight face, the crew were slightly shaking with laughter in my peripherals. At least I think they were laughing.
I was very much tapping into that Zoella/Shaaanxo vibe. I watch a lot of YouTube videos of how to do pin curls and stuff when it’s late at night and I’m going absolutely insane, and I think the conventions of YouTube tutorials are so good for comedy.
All those little extra annotation pop up gags kill me as well – I don’t know who came up with the ‘How to Look White’ one but that cut me deep. I remember the sketch wasn’t quite coming off well in the edit, so when I hopped in to have a look I thought we definitely needed a voiceover on the sped up bit. So I jumped in and ad libbed that as well and we used that take. One take again! I think this is my favourite sketch actually because it required the least amount of effort.
Nic Sampson: ‘Title Pitch’
I think this was the first sketch we wrote. When we heard the show was going to be called ‘Funny Girls’ we all cringed, it was begging for a Herald review called “More like UN-Funny Girls!” or “Funny Girls? Yeah right!” (side note, we get a lot of private messages from lovely men saying things like this).
We started trying to think up better show titles, but guess what? It’s really, really hard, you should try it. It was a lot easier to come up with worse names for the show, and so this sketch was born. It also turned into a way for us to say, ‘look, we know this isn’t a good name for a show, and a lot people are probably going to be judging it before it’s even started.’ It’s the age old trick of giving yourself a wedgie at school before anyone else can.
The script called for “30 or 40 men, packing the room right up to the walls”, though we never thought this would be something we actually had the budget for. But our producer made it happen and it was hilarious. I felt for Rose who had to be stared down by that many guys for three hours.
Later on, we actually had the option to change the name of the show, but we liked this sketch too much. Also, we still legitimately couldn’t think of a better one.
Huge props to Laura for coming up with ‘Twats New Pussycat’.
Kimberley Crossman: ‘Dope I’m in Prison’
This was my favourite sketch for a number of reasons. The concept was clever, the writing was amazing and I got to work with so many amazing New Zealand actresses who I have looked up to for such a long time.
I felt like I was able to bring my own little spin on it and it was one of those days where it all just fell in to place easily, allowing room to improvise and play. So this sketch holds a special place in my heart and was one of my highlights of season one.
Chelsea McEwan Millar: ‘Sister House’
I love Sister House because while we were filming it we were all standing around dressed as men discussing periods and the best form of female birth control (’cause, y’know, WOMEN) and at one point we stopped and had a weird zoom-out “what are our lives?” moment. And I really enjoyed that.
Chris Parker: ‘The Surrogate’
This is my favourite for so many reasons. 1. The house we shot in was super flash and I loved pretending it was my house 2. Eli [Matthewson] makes a fantastic husband 3. Filming the sex scene was soooo intense friendship-wise. It really took my friendship with Rose and Eli to the next level!
Also Johnny Barker did such a great job shooting this!
Jackie van Beek: ‘Make Myself at Home’
I love this sketch as I’ve got three kids of my own and have always wondered what our teenage babysitters get up to while my husband and I are out working at night. Since viewing the sketch I have confronted all of our babysitters on the topics of stealing alcohol, rifling through our personal belongings and having sex on our couches. Thankfully, they have all denied doing any of the above.
I don’t consider it an educational video but it did teach me to NEVER EVER consider asking Rose Matafeo to babysit my beloved children!! EVER.
Brynley Stent: ‘Gossip’
I love this sketch on so many levels, Rose’s portrayal of the Christian character is so big and great, she reminds me of a kermit the frog puppet and she made me laugh so much on set I probably ruined about four takes. I love that no one person is the butt of the joke because all the characters are just as ridiculous as each other. It plays well with both content and physical humour and that’s a winning combo for me.
Eli Matthewson: ‘Career Girls’
I love board games, so I really wanted to write a board game sketch at some point. I had been thinking of a sketch set on a couple’s games night or something like that but then at a really inconvenient time I came up with this fake ad for a Career Girls board game. Laura [Daniel], Joey [Joseph Moore] and I had been sent to the basement of our office to write some of the behind-the-scenes storyline (which we were having lots of trouble with at the time) and then I got very sidetracked with this idea. Laura and Joey pitched in gags, I went away and wrote it, leaving them with the much more difficult and urgent job, and it was approved to shoot within a few hours.
This one was very almost shot with Kim, Rose and Laura playing the kids, because the team were a bit scared about trusting actual children with heaps of dialogue. Luckily, these kids – two of whom are our director Johnny’s nieces and one is our editor Jamie’s daughter Holly – act the shit out of this, nail the tone, and make it an absolute banger of a sketch.
Joseph Moore: ‘Mum Money’
For a long time I’ve been trying to get out of the comedy game and into the rap producing world, so working on ‘Mum Money’ allowed me to fully indulge my fantasies for a couple days. I got to take a beat I made on my laptop into an actual music studio and work with an actual engineer who said actual engineer things like: “shall we put a compressor on this kick drum to fatten it up?” and I was like, “yes, I totally know what that means.” Also in the music studio people made me a cheese toastie AKA how Timbaland lives his life every day.
Self-servicing aside, this sketch was a highlight for me because of Laura’s absolutely boss performance. I don’t think she’d ever rapped before but she fully committed to this and I reckon she has an awesome, guttural, Missy Elliott meets E-40 style flow and she should join me when I quit comedy and move to Atlanta, GA. It’s always tough when doing fake/comedy rap to try do without coming across semi-racist/Iggy Azalea and I think/hope we did an ok job of that!
Shout out to Alison Quigan also who is perfect as the Mum. All her awesome Mum-based work has skyrocketed her up the ranks to my second favourite Mum of all time.
Nic Sampson: ‘Gossip’
Eli wrote this sketch and watching it for the first time made me yell like a maniac with laughter. These sort of sketches of a group of people sitting around talking can be the hardest to write, but are often the most rewarding.
Rose is acting the crap out of her Christian character at the start and it’s just a joy every time the sketch cuts to her. There are also a ton of silly faces from everybody, which is always a huge draw card for me as a viewer.
It’s hard to pick a favourite of the wine gags but I think maybe the lapping at the wine like a dog? So dumb and so funny.
The combination of Rose’s long and disgusting story and the escalating wine jokes make for that excellent feeling where you feel free to laugh as much as you like without worrying that you’re missing anything and you just ride that laugh-wave all the way to the shore.
Rose Matafeo: ‘Lunch’
I didn’t think it would be that interesting to write about a sketch I didn’t write or wasn’t in and wasn’t even on set for, but this sketch is my kind of humour. I love a lil simple sketch that’s just beautifully written and performed. You know where it’s going, but it’s still really satisfying when it gets there.
I remember watching this for the first time in the edit suite and being in tears by the time Brynley [Stent] perfectly delivers her bit. I also love people referring to anything using the prefix “Big”, e.g. Big Sugar, Big Dairy. I just love seeing my friends just deliver on performance. Oooh, it’s lovely.
Laura Daniel: ‘Sensing Hangover’
I like this sketch because of where the concept came from, and it shows the collaborative process of the writing team. One night, a group of us were watching hilarious old YouTube videos we had made when we were at high school (Including Rose’s legendary high school 48Hours film Westmere Story). I showed them a parody ‘Sensing Moider’ where 15-year-old me plays psychic Deb Webber and Rose suggested I should make a Funny Girls sketch with that character.
After a brain storm session with the team, I had an idea for a sketch about a physic that instead of solving murders, could solve what happened to people on a drunken night out. However, I had to do six versions of the script before I finally got the tone right. I remember reading it out in front of the writing team and being embarrassed because it didn’t get many laughs and I had reached a block. But Rose then suggested some great one liners and Joseph added that the character, being a booze hag, should actually sabotage the whole sketch and make it all about her (this coincidentally is now a typecast character for me).
I then mashed all the versions of the sketch together and it turned into a hilarious night of shooting. Once the sketch got to the editing stage, we discovered even more jokes and along with an extra ending Nic wrote and we quickly shot the week it was going to air.
The finale of Funny Girls airs tonight on TV3 at 10pm
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