Hard News by Russell Brown


Laughing from diversity, and the rise of fake news

This week's episode of Media Take looks at New Zealand screen satire and humour and where their edges might be found – especially where they touch on race and ethnicity.

The idea came up after one of Jeremy Wells' 'Like Mike' parodies of Mike Hosking went beyond an audience that immediately understood what it was – and seriously upset some people who didn't understand or appreciate the irony in fake-Mike's commentary on Prince Harry's encounter with Maori.

The first panel features Kiel McNaughton, the director of Maori Television's brilliantly funny Find Me A Maori Bride, who notes that the concept for the mockumentary – where much of the humour derives from te reo Maori and its use and abuse – actually came from its writer Dane Giraud, a Jewish Australian documentarian who has made his home here.

Alongside Kiel is Roseanne Liang, the director of the game-changing webseries Flat3, which delivered some very edgy humour from a community whose leaders can be very conservative. And yet, they got the lovely gentlemen of the Auckland Chinese Association to participate in an episode where they drew penises on people's foreheads. Respect. I'm looking forward to the team's next project, a comedy show call Friday Night Bites, for which they've already crowdfunded a pilot.

It strikes me that one reason both of these shows have worked so well is that they draw on humour that's already there. My Chinese friends had jokes about "Asian glow" and Jackie Chan years ago. And the comic and satiric archetypes of both white and brown embraces of the reo and tikanga are pretty well established too. In that this humour comes from diversity, it's Auckland humour. It also means it might be a while before you see shows like these on middle-market mainstream TV.

The second part introduces Robbie McNicol, whose second White Man Behind A Desk web video was ideally timed and perfectly pitched for the week of Campbell Live's demise. I can confirm he's as much of a livewire in person as he is on the internet.

And it was really nice to hear from Nathan Rarere about how they're making Maori Television's other new comic show, Brown Eye. The show's implicit pitch – and the burden it carries – is that it's the "New Zealand Daily Show" people have been talking about for years. That's quite a bar to reach, but Brown Eye has has been growing week by week.

It's also notable that it's not just a Maori Show. Key parts of Brown Eye are made by Hweiling Ow and the young Pakistani-Iranian comedian Pax Assadi, who last week did vox pops on who looks like a terrorist:

So, again, it's Auckland humour. It even goes to South Auckland, the part that most media forget even exists.

The last part of the show is quite different, but also worth your time. Brioni Gray has a really nice video report on the intriguing and provocate Waitangi Wahine exhibition.

You can watch Media Take here.

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