Spinoff said for the TV show, you're going to see "less of what you hate". What do you hate?
There's a kind of weird thing in TV - particularly if you are doing current affairs - where you kind of constantly being told to be aware of your audience. What middle New Zealanders want to see. Now, being aware of your audience is a really good idea, so you keep them in mind. But there's this idea of worrying what all the people in St Lukes think. That if you do something that's a bit left of centre, a bit cockeyed, a bit strange, that you're instantly regarded like, what the f*** are you doing, you f***en weirdo. It really gets to me. Even if you stray a little from whatever you imagine are middle New Zealand's concerns, you are just regarded as some kind of weirdo.
Aren't there enough news as comedy shows now?
That's not what we are doing. We do have some comedians working on the show. Angella Dravid is probably the funniest person in New Zealand - she's there because she looks at things completely differently to anyone else. That is what I'm talking about. So what we are doing is making sure that anything we present is engaging, entertaining, but you should always come away having learned something. When we get serious we really get serious. We have journalists like Toby [Manhire] and Duncan [Grieve] who hold journalism as this high ideal. We just don't take ourselves too seriously that's all.
It struck me that Spinoff is the craft beer that will eventually be bought out by the big brewery - is there a fear that Spinoff will lose its cache and become mainstream?
Not really because I think we are mainstream. To some extent. I just think we're looking at a different mainstream. There's a whole kind of strata of people of a certain age who just aren't being catered for. Most media are going for that whole 40-plus, but there are a whole lot of people my age, 39, and younger who grew up engaging with pop culture and media in a particular way and no one is catering to them. It's like TV seems unable to engage different cultures in NZ - it's all pretty white bread. We have to find new audiences. But they are hanging on to Pakeha middle New Zealand like it's a death grip. They won't let go. Come on.
Don't you see change happening?
Things are changing but just a couple of years ago I was talking to someone who was making a reality TV show with a group of racially diverse young people and the note from the commissioner said, make sure you show the white Kiwi guy in the shorts first, rather than the Asian woman. That's not that long ago. They're terrified that if they show things from a certain part of society they'll lose their audience. It's damn hard doing current affairs and getting people to watch it. But there has to be a better way than appealing to people's base natures and fomenting and strengthening their ignorance.
What do you like watching on TV?
I gotta admit I don't watch a heck of a lot of it. I try to catch the news all the time. Growing up I just watched a whole lot of British comedy - the usual stuff that people watch and then the person who had the lasting influence is Charlie Brooker [creator of Black Mirror]. As soon as I saw that I thought "right, you can do it that way". And it became stressful trying not to do it that way.
Your name's like a comic anti hero. You could be a Marvel comic anti hero.
I don't know what you mean.
Do you get people saying "no, no it's Hose-ayyy?" [for the record, it's J, not H.]
All the time. Like, I've just said how you say it, but no ...
You're a bit of a foodie.
Just reasonably. My favourite thing to do is to watch Chef's Table on Netflix but eat like a bag of cheese balls at the same time. It feels so good. I'm loving the food on the screen but stuffing my hole with god knows what - constituted shit. I'm a foodie in that sense.
When did you last dream about food?
I have the ones where your teeth are all falling out. They are stress dreams, right? I'm trying to talk to someone and my mouth just fills up with broken teeth. I can't think of anything I've eaten in my dreams. Just my own teeth.
You're looking a a menu: which part do you most identify with? Would you forgo pudding, for example, for the entree?
No. No. It's the full enchilada. I always eat too much, which is probably obvious. I like steak. I like it very much. I like it medium-rare. My partner's vegetarian so I don't eat it that much. I love an eggplant. We're Yotam Ottolenghi nerds. We have all the books and went to the restaurant in London. We had to pretend we were going to a theatre show, so we could get the cheap deal. The toilets were amazing. I can't even remember what we ate actually. I just remember the toilets.
Where else in the world stands out?
The best place to get cheesecake is in Ireland. And Reel Dingle fish 'n' chips in Dingle in the northwest. They do the best fish 'n' chips I have ever tasted in my life. He hand cuts the fries and puts them in a bucket of cold water. He's got fresh fish - because they are on the coast. And this guy's fish 'n' chips ... If anyone goes to Ireland you have to go to Dingle. I've eaten a lot of fish 'n' chips and New Zealand doesn't even come close. I've yet to have a complete round meal - the chips are from Gilmours or something. But you are not getting the whole package. I feel like the fish 'n' chips industry has to pull its game up. It's not right. It was orgasmic, the whole thing in Dingle. It blew anything I've had in New Zealand out of the water.
The Spinoff TV June 22, 9.45pm on Three.