Funny As: The Story of New Zealand Comedy
Philip Matthews & Paul Horan
Auckland University Press
Read this as either standalone volume or as the tie-in (as intended) with recent TV series of the same name. Cleverly, you don’t need to watch Funny-As the TV series to enjoy Funny-As the book (though I don’t know why you wouldn’t dive into both?)
Philip Matthews and Paul Horan have a magical skill here in offering a broad-survey that is concise, enjoyable, readable – it’s a coffee-table book of pics that has plenty of great story-context in the accompanying words; has depth.
Where do you start with New Zealand comedy?
Fortunately this does not concerned in making a case, in the justifying-sense. It’s just an all-in, look at what we did – this is who we are.
And that means the “comedy” on offer dips off the stage of the stand-ups and into not only the sitcoms and romcom-movies but also into the novels (Barry Crump) and columnists (Leah McFall) and the various roles and ways that comedy serves and informs (our great celebrity chefs, Hudson & Halls).
You can pick your choice of cover too – from Billy T to The Topp Twins, Flight of the Conchords to the late great John Clarke (Fred Dagg).
So that means this is a great gift-idea for friends and family. You can target your audience specifically by choosing the local comedy icon that most appeals.
There’s an impressive depth to this project – and the same is true of the TV show.
I remember thinking, as I’m sure many have, that we are long overdue an examination of our local comedy. Bit like buses eh, if you wait long enough…
In these pages is our voice, some (most) of our comedy choices. Relive the highlights. Learn about new people (either new to you because you’re too young to have been there or new to you because you haven’t kept up with the current crop).
Michele A’Court’s foreword is perfect context and crystallisation.
A wonderful (fun, funny, engaging, page-turning) read.
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