Truth is funnier than fiction
There are moments in the stylish local spoof comedy Auckland Daze when it feels like you're witness to a group of close friends goofing around just for fun - albeit funny, witty friends with a courageous sense of humour and some great comedic timing. And in a sense, you are.
The main actors - Millen Baird, Fasi Amosa, Jimmy James Fletcher and Glen Levy - play “themselves” on the show in keeping with the fly on the wall, mockumentary style and are all good friends in real life.
Writer Millen Baird, the guy behind the excellent Millen Baird Show, says blocks of the script were heavily improvised.
“A lot of the stories were from the guys. I'd just twist them to extremes and then with improvisation . . . the guys would springboard from there and come up with spectacular lines that I could never script. We'd kind of have a start point and an end point with a couple of beats to hit in the middle but pretty much the guys were left to their own devices.”
It makes for funny viewing - those kind of cringey, laugh-out-loud, I-can't-believe-you-said-that moments, and the satisfaction that comes from watching someone expertly point out the absurdity of something - in this case, the Auckland entertainment industry. From the opening credits, which parody the opening to Entourage, the show makes digs at the small Auckland entertainment scene - “which is”, says Millen, “so puny it's almost a joke in itself”.
If you haven't seen it, the show follows four hapless mates striving to make it in their chosen field - modelling (Millen), standup (Fasi), entertainment (Jimmy), and as a stuntman (Glen).)
Many of the scenarios actually happened to the actors. For example, the scene where Fasi auditions for the part of a homeowner in a television commercial and the casting director comes out and points to someone saying something like: “we'll go with you, that's more realistic”.
Says Fasi: “That literally happened to me and I told that to Millen and he said ‘that's going straight in the Daze'.”
As Millen, only half jokingly, puts it: “We pretty much meet up, put everyone's stories in a bowl and pick the best ones.”
The show is playing on TV One but was originally made as internet television and was only available through the TVNZ website where it garnered a large fanbase. (“Yes please” - a sort of "catch phrase" on the show - caught on to the extent that Fasi remembers a fan quoting it to him at a food court).
It's an interesting start for a show and both Millen and Fasi say making internet television had some big advantages - including speed.
“The best thing about shooting for the web for us was the immediacy,” says Millen. “You'd shoot and then people could view it the following week.
"Whereas for TV sometimes it can be shelved for a year.”
The immediacy meant the turnaround for the show was extremely tight. The team would shoot on Saturday and Sunday with the network viewing a rough cut at 5pm on Monday. Tuesday was for tweaks, Wednesday for sound mix and it would go to air on Thursday. It was 10 very full-on weeks.
Both Millen and Fasi are stoked the show is now playing on television and hope it pleases the existing fans and creates some new ones. The episodes are mostly the same with some tweaks to make them all regulation length.
When we meet to discuss the show, jokes are made about the complaints that may arise due to the risque theme of some of the humour. Fasi says they already have one formal complaint from when the show was on the internet.
“Someone wrote into TVNZ and went through the whole complaint process and the complaint was - there wasn't enough, they wanted more.”
Here's hoping that complaint gets upheld.
Auckland Daze, TV ONE, Thursday, 10.05pm