Colin Hogg on television

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Colin Hogg: Kiwi comedy shakes us out of daze

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Coarse, confronting and occasionally profound Auckland-based comedy series just what we've been missing.

 Life's Too Short  cast, from left, Glen Levy, Millen Baird, James Fletcher and Fasitua Amosa, are game for a laugh.
Life's Too Short cast, from left, Glen Levy, Millen Baird, James Fletcher and Fasitua Amosa, are game for a laugh.

Almost any new genre is good for a nibble these days in the hungry world of television. Foot Fetish Housewives of Beverly Hills is doubtless on a drawing board somewhere, along with America's Top Cannibal Cook.

And meantime, we can amuse ourselves with shows making stars out of little people. And when I said little people there, I meant dwarfs.

Saying little people was a feeble attempt at political correctness - which seems utterly pointless in the face of shows like Life's Too Short and Auckland Daze, both screening on TV One and both featuring vertically-challenged stars who appear to have no problem with the D word.

Auckland Daze (Thursday, 10.05pm) has no problem with the F word either, sprinkling it like fairy dust through its filthily funny first episode. And when I say filthily - and that's not easy to say - I mean that the F word was just the thin edge of a wedge of humour that merrily stretched to cracks about genitals, alcoholics, racists and the futility of pursuing the show-biz life in a small country.

In fact, the whole meaning of life looks set to be covered really in a series that appears to be setting a bold new standard for New Zealand comedy. Here, finally, is a show that is nothing trivial. And yay, I say, though I remain slightly nervous about rooting for a show I wouldn't let my mother watch.

Now in a better-budgeted second series and crammed full of local stars happily being horrid, Auckland Daze swaggers back on to the screen with an outrageous sort of confidence, rolling like a happy pig in its Auckland settings as it follows the ups and (mostly) downs of four Queen City entertainment world wannabes.

One of whom, Jimmy, is the aforementioned dwarf, also an alcoholic who has been told to get drunk for his role by his movie director, played with glinty-eyed and savage glee by Alan "Jim in Neighbours" Dale.

Also going at it with vile glee are Jennifer Ward Lealand, Martin Henderson and Shane Cortese, who variously stumble across the paths of the series' hapless heroes as they search for fame, love and income.

Henderson and Cortese crop up at Jimmy's AA meeting, Cortese bitching at Hollywood-boy Henderson, "you get all the work" before inviting everyone out for a beer.

Much of the show's other stuff, I can't quote - and least of all Ward-Lealand, who eats up the screen as actor/writer Millen Baird's expletive-dependent cougar mum.

Baird, as with fellow stars Glen Levy, Fasitua Amosa and Jimmy Fletcher, plays a mockumentary version of himself. This sort of hyper-reality is nothing new, of course, being territory already populated by the likes of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.

What is new is that Auckland Daze is shamelessly local and shamelessly shameless. It's also, for all its furious filthy childishness, beautifully made, showing off its shiny new budget, shooting on locations across the city and even extending to a full-on kung-fu action scene for stuntman Levy and a spoof TV panel show for stand-up comic Amosa, playing the show's most hapless hero of all.

Auckland Daze is coarse and confronting, silly and strangely - perhaps accidentally - profound. It's just what we need on TV in these troubling and often laugh-starved times.

Even if you can't let Mother see it.

- NZ Herald

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