Web series Jiwi's Machines to feature Kiwi-made contraptions

JOSEPH HERSCHER/YouTube

The Dresser (chain reaction machine)

Remember when you were a kid and you wished for a Wallace-and-Gromit type machine to get you up in the morning and make your breakfast?

That was Joseph Herscher, too - only he actually set to work to make the dream a reality.

At 6 years old, a young Herscher made a "lolly machine" - "it just stored my lollies for me in a big box that went down a tube so no one else could get them".

Now, at 30 years old, he's making his living from these odd contraptions.

They're called Rube Goldberg machines, named for a cartoonist who used to depict them in his work.

Simply put, it's a complex chain reaction machine that "usually does some ludicrously simple task at the end - like turning a page or watering a plant".

Since the lolly machine, Herscher has gone on to make machines to hold his books while he was in bed, dispense giant jaffas, smash a Creme Egg, and just recently - to get himself dressed.

Joseph Herscher as Jiwi, the character in his upcoming comedy webseries featuring his Rube Goldberg contraptions.
Supplied

Joseph Herscher as Jiwi, the character in his upcoming comedy webseries featuring his Rube Goldberg contraptions.

His interest in the machines faded in Herscher's teenage years, but at aged 22 he and his flatmates decided to make something - they lost interest within the day but Herscher kept building until the machine took over the whole apartment. 

"And then I didn't know what to do with it, so I filmed it, put it on Youtube and it went viral - got 7 million views"

It was then the job offers started to come in. He's since worked on promotions, advertisements, events, educational kids' books and even Sesame Street - and he's now creating his own comedy web series, where in a world first, each episode will feature a new Rube Goldberg machine.

The series, Jiwi's Machines draws inspiration from silent comedies and their heroes; the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton - Herscher even especially learned mime for the part.

The four-part series, funded by NZ On Air, features physical comedy and classic gags as well as the machines. In it, Herscher stars as Jiwi with a cast of six, which includes well-known actress Olivia Tennet and a cameo appearance from leading Kiwi scientist Dr Michelle Dickinson.

"I started off doing it because I thought I needed it - I thought I needed something to hold my books for me or turn on the light from bed...it was pragmatic. But I did also notice that it made my parents laugh and that kind of spurred me on. Now I do it for entertainment really, for other people," says Herscher.

"I love the playfulness of seeing everyday objects used in unusual ways, that delights me and I want to share that delight with other people. We are naturally playful creatures, so for us to see a machine which is somehow playful rather than meeting an end goal - it tickles us."

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Jiwi's Machines begins in November, see jiwismachines.com for further information. See the full video for The Dresser and a series promo below:

 - Stuff

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