Jono and Ben is back for another season, and they’re refreshing their comedic stable with some new faces, most of them women. Let’s meet them!
Jono and Ben is more than just a showcase for the titular dudes who front the show. It also has a legacy of being a springboard for some of our most talented women comedians – most famously the stars of Funny Girls, Rose Matafeo and Laura Daniel. Jono and Ben returns to Three tonight, and brings with it the next stars of the comedy scene – straight to your screen!
I flicked a few of them some questions, and here’s what they said:
Brynley Stent is a core cast member of Funny Girls and Basement’s resident improv troupe, Snort. She performed in her one-woman show Escape from Gloriavale in last year’s Comedy Festival and just wrapped up a sketch show with fellow Snort-er Rhiannon McCall in this year’s Comedy Festival, Why Does This Feel So Good?
You do a shit-ton of improv (technical term) in Snort. What’s your favourite one-off character that’s come out of your brain during a scene that you’d love to bring back?
A child whose genes had been spliced with a lion.
Why the fascination with Gloriavale?
Everyone seems to have an interest in it at the moment! 2018 is the year of the cult, with more and more TV shows, documentaries and movies coming out about these communities. I’ve always had a fascination with cults and closed-communities, ever since I was young. I actually got banned from looking at the 1997 Guiness Book of World Records because I kept reading up about the World’s Largest Mass Suicide (I was a weird kid).
Gloriavale particularly interests me because it’s actually in our country! There’s something so interesting about watching this group of people who are completely removed from the outside world, and how they create their own community with specific rules and regulations based purely off a group of a old men’s reading of the bible.
I thought about how interesting it would be to create a character who I grew up in this place so removed from the mainstream, and then take her out and put her deep in the heart of Auckland city. So I made ‘Providence Gratitude’, a character who left Gloriavale and now lives in the concrete jungle! That’s where the comedy comes from – watching this naive character interacting with the new, exciting, disgusting outside world.
I’ve heard you have an obsession with dolls. Where did it come from, and why do these horrible things make you as happy as they do?
Hayley Sproull is an experienced comedian and actress. She’s had multiple shows in the Comedy Festival, including this year’s Phase and the internationally-touring show Miss Fletcher Sings The Blues. On the theatrical side of things, she has performed in clown improv shows Jekyll and Hyde and Santa Claus, at The Basement Theatre. You can watch her in the short web series she created, Hayley’s Kitchen, on TVNZ on Demand.
Fuck, marry, kill: Singing, acting, comedy?
I’d fuck comedy because there’s nothing sexier than laughter (and sometimes sex itself can be very humourous), marry singing because it’ll make you feel good every day of your life, and kill acting because there’s too much bad acting out there and we need to start culling anyway!
You were a high school goth – what’s the one band you’re still into from that period and why?
A lot of niche shit that doesn’t make for a very good answer so I’ll say Marilyn Manson – his vocal manipulation is second to none and nothing makes me want to thrash my head harder than The Beautiful People. In saying that, I still have a guilty listen to My Chemical Romance at the gym, too.
I also have it on good authority that you’re a marching enthusiast/practitioner. What would you like people to know about marching that they wouldn’t know in their wildest dreams?
Probably how wildly seriously I take it, and that if you ever try to make fun of it I will tear you apart and mark time all over your ass. Also, I wish people would just google my team (Lochiel) so they can see it’s a) not cheerleading, b) not a marching band and c) not just walking!
Angella Dravid won the Billy T Award in last year’s Comedy Festival, has been a recurring cast member on both Jono and Ben and Funny Girls, and even starred in The Spinoff’s very own Make It Tick videos last year.
If you had to give somebody three interview tips, what would they be?
For TV interviews, my recommendations are:
1. Keep eye contact and smile. It shows you’re being attentive and nonthreatening.
2. Keep it brief. People are generally uncomfortable with forced interactions and they will make small talk to put themselves at ease. If you give as little as possible, the interviewee has to give you more to work with, and that’s when you can establish what to indulge in (step 3).
3. Indulge yourself in whatever is bringing you joy in the interview. If making people uncomfortable is giving you joy, do it. Audiences love being in on the joke, and if you’re indulging, we all feel like we’re in it with you.
You have such a great rapport with the audience members. What’s your most memorable audience experience (bad or good)?
Someone in the audience yelled out his number and I got my phone out and called it. He answered his phone, and I replied “Hello? Shut the fuck up” and then hung up. I should have walked off stage or done a mic drop but I tried to finish my set. None of my material hit. I knew then and there that I had peaked as a comedian.
At this year’s Billy T Jams, I was interrupted by someone in the middle of a joke. I looked at him and said “Is that your wife next to you?”, he said “yeah”, and I replied “Straight white male. Of course you have the answers.” That received a huge response.
Whenever someone heckles or interrupts, or if I’m interacting with someone, I feel like the world is in slow motion; I feel the world slowing down and I somehow find something. I don’t know how it happens but that’s the only time I’m not thinking about what people are thinking, and for that split second, I’m speaking in the moment.
What’s the most nuts interview you’ve ever done?
I think I’ve been lucky in that I’ve not really had crazy interviews. All the Jono and Ben interviews have been fun, uncomfortable and unpredictable. I think the most nuts interview was when I was interviewing people for the ‘Holden Out for a Grand’ segment. I would knock on people’s doors and if they were watching the show, I’d give them a cheque for $1000. I would stand there not knowing whether people were going to talk or not, and being indecisive with who to hold the mic to. It’s such a strange dynamic to enter a stranger’s house and then interview them.
I think the most well received interview was crashing the Shortland Street party. I went to do some radio promo the following day and someone stopped me at the traffic lights to say they really enjoyed watching it. I think the most exciting thing about all of the interviews and experiences are that we really don’t know how they’re going to turn out. That might be the most nuts thing about it.
Kura Forrester is an experienced comedian and actress. She’s part of Snort, has done shows with Silo Theatre, Auckland Theatre Company, Massive Company and Taki Rua Theatre Company, and performed in her own hit comedy show, Tiki Tour. She’s also the lead of the web-series The Adventures of Suzy Boon, which you can watch on TVNZ on Demand.
You’re a very Serious Actor who has done some Very Serious Plays. How do you bring your experiences from that into doing something like Jono and Ben?
Being called “a serious actor” is quite the compliment for me! To me, comedy and drama are very closely linked so often being able to pull off serious acting means being able to believe in your situation and play the truth, comedy is exactly the same, except the situations and your truth are funnier. So it’s helped heaps and I would love for you to spread the rumour that I am a serious actor.
Who would win in a fight, you or Tom Sainsbury?
Probably Tom, I reckon he has some serious untapped rage he would call on in a fight, aye. I ain’t messing with that!
You did a bloody amazing show called Tiki Tour. Who is the worst person you met on a tiki tour?
There was a guy on a tour I did who had the word “Chur” tattooed on his inner bottom lip and one night in Ios, Greece, he found a dodgy tattoo parlour and got “Bro” tattooed on his inner top lip. Maybe he was the best not the worst! Really the worst dudes were anyone who didn’t take the time to appreciate and learn a bit about a new country.
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