Rachel Bache is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Funny Girls returns: How Rose Matafeo and Laura Daniel became NZ's first ladies of LOL

Rose Matafeo and Laura Daniel star in Funny Girls, returning to TV3.
Rose Matafeo and Laura Daniel star in Funny Girls, returning to TV3.

You would think - or at least hope - that by the year 2015, New Zealand would have been ready for an all-female comedy show.

Yet when Laura Daniel and Rose Matafeo launched their ground-breaking series Funny Girls on TV3 last year, the hate came thick and fast.

"We were branded in the first series as these 'feminist bitches', trying to push their feminist agenda," explains Matafeo, who returned from her new UK-base to film the second series in July.

"All we were doing was making observations specific to women. People found that quite an affront to their beliefs of what a comedy should be."

Many of those quick to judge the series never bothered to tune in. But those who did found something fresh and unique. And more importantly, very funny.

"At the end of the day it has to be funny," says Matafeo. " There's no point making a big political statement in a comedy show if it's not funny. I know we shouldn't have called the show Funny Girls, I mean that's our own fault ... but I think we deal with it in a funnier way, poking fun at that political correctness."

And as season two returns later this month, the pair are promising to push those boundaries even further. It will be "bigger, better and more ballsy".

Part sitcom, part sketch comedy, Funny Girls moves between the behind-the-scenes world of a comedy series, where Matafeo and Daniel are faced with a litany of terrible ideas from brash male bosses, and the sketches they produce.

The comedy is designed to challenge ideas about women and societal norms, often in the most bizarre ways. Daniel says the aim is to "find the extreme of the joke and make a sketch about it".

Jackie van Beek returns as clueless producer Pauline.
Jackie van Beek returns as clueless producer Pauline.

Despite the first season's success, neither Daniel nor Matafeo dared assume a second season was on the cards. As it turns out, they were the last to know, discovering the news only when they found an announcement online.

By the time they realised it was set to return, they only had five weeks to brainstorm and script before production began.

Matafeo admits the time constraints were "ridiculous", but pair still managed to pull it off. "There was less time to second guess ourself," says Daniel. "I think if we had more time, we'd be like, 'is this funny?'. With the nature of television you've just got to commit to something and put it out there."

"We definitely didn't over-think this series," Matafeo adds. "I don't think we were living up to any expectations of the first [season], because I don't think there were any expectations with the first one. It was kind of just this thing that was made and some people enjoyed it and we were like, okay, let's make a second."

This time around the task of directing Funny Girls was given to Super City star Madeleine Sami, a fellow champion of female-driven comedy.

For Matafeo and Daniel, it was a dream result.

"I'd always fan-girled over her," admits Daniel, who says Sami supported their vision from day one.

"She's really just a generous performer and director," says Matafeo. "It was amazing because there was just no ego whatsoever and so that filtered down through the whole production. Everyone is working together to make something and it's just a really powerful thing."

Adds Daniel: "In a show about women it's pretty important to have her as a director. We're pretty stoked about it."

Sami isn't the only Kiwi star joining the Funny Girls cast - this year, the likes of 7 Days regular Josh Thomson, YouTube star Jamie Curry and Hunt for the Wilderpeople actor Julian Dennison are all set to make cameos.

Season two will also delve deeper into characters introduced last season, including Jackie Van Beek's clueless producer Pauline.

"Fans are going to get see more of the characters develop. We found a lot of people liked the behind-the-scenes aspect last year, and this year we were quite passionate about it. There's a group of us in the writing team who were just focused on that. So we're dealing with a lot of funny issues but in a behind-the-scenes world," explains Daniel.

"We've basically written a sitcom within a sketch show," says Matafeo. "We snuck 15 minutes of a sitcom into a sketch show."

With the series set to premiere on September 30, the pair are confident in the work they've produced. But they know they won't be able to win over everyone.

"I can't wait to see how it comes out. I can't wait to see how we've messed it up too though. I think the real thing we should be asking is - are the people who hated it still going to hate it?" says Matafeo.

Daniel jokes: "And the answer is: probably."

Who: Rose Matafeo and Laura Daniel
What: Funny Girls, season 2
When: Returns Friday September 30
Where: On TV3

- TimeOut

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 21 Oct 2016 23:50:33 Processing Time: 1218ms