There's much hoopla at the fancy studio where Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce are being photographed, filmed and interviewed ahead of the next chapter in their fine careers.
There's a rack of clothes, a table laden with food and a couple of dozen people busying themselves with cameras, call sheets and coffee runs.
I'm barely through the door when Pryor is on me, asking how I'm doing, whether I want anything to eat, thanking me for coming. It's about 12.40pm and I tell him I'm doing intermittent fasting and won't eat till 1pm. After we finish our interview, he inquires if I'm ready for food and both ask how work's going.
I've interviewed a decent number of famous people over the years and these two were among the most engaged and engaging. Dressed-down and spry, they were natural, open and as interested in me as I was in them. I liked them very much.
We met at that studio, on a quiet street in Grey Lynn, what feels like a lifetime ago. We were talking about their new breakfast show on The Hits network. It was due to start on Monday, but then came Covid-19 and a decision to postpone the early starts for three weeks. They'll debut with an hour-long "pop-up" show, Iso-Luncheon, instead.
New radio shows aren't that uncommon in New Zealand, but this is a major play in the highly competitive commercial market dominated by two companies, MediaWorks and NZME.
The Hits is part of the NZME stable, which also includes the Herald. Luring Pryor and Boyce, arguably New Zealand's biggest and best-known comedy broadcasters, from MediaWorks, is A Big Deal. Each had been with their former employer for many years.
We covered the virus in a video interview on Wednesday, the first day after a three-month restraint of trade period imposed by their previous employment deal.
Of course they were both at home. Separately, although such is their obvious bond that I wouldn't have been surprised to find them in the same bubble.
"I don't go out anyway, Chris. I'm a hermit," says Pryor. "This is literally no change to my lifestyle whatsoever."
They riff on our new, shared realities: Zoom meetings, going to the supermarket during lockdown, people looking at you like you're sick when you're out for a walk.
"Even though it's a shocking event worldwide, there's some great comedy to come out of this," says Pryor. "Like trying to get my Dad on Zoom. It takes him literally three days."
"We're going to try and lift the spirits a bit and be funny," says Boyce.
"Are you going to do that thing when they write and put the speech marks around funny?" Pryor asks me.
No, because they've been funny for a long time. In a notoriously fickle market they've evolved and endured.
Both went to broadcasting school keen to do radio. They met 15 years ago and were mates before teaming up for stints with The Rock and then The Edge. Not to mention more than 200 episodes of TV over seven years, first late-night, then primetime.
Much of their comedy, particularly on TV, could be characterised as prank-based, certainly in the earlier years. Boyce had already mined that vein in Pulp Sport and Wanna-Ben, and Pryor with The Jono Project, before they teamed up.
While they've mellowed after getting married and having kids, there's still an undercurrent of irreverence running through their humour.
I wondered if this was a reaction to childhood: Pryor had a private school education at St Kentigern and a dad who ended up as a squadron leader in the Air Force; Boyce's father was the headmaster of the school he went to in Masterton.
"I was literally in the dumbest class all the way through school," recalls Pryor. "But I was one of those weird kids who knew what he wanted to do. I always wanted to do radio. But I think it did instil discipline in me in terms of maybe a work ethic, because, all jokes aside, we actually work our asses off.
"Although people are quite disappointed when we say we work hard," says Boyce. "Oh, you work hard to do that?"
Pre-fame, Pryor, now 38, badgered Robert Rakete into letting him on his Mai FM show; Boyce, a tad older, wrote ad jingles, including the Novus "Show us your crack" song.
Since celebrity status arrived they've made a good fist of keeping their private lives just that and, by and large, staying out of trouble.
The notable exception came when Boyce planned a 2011 TV stunt at Auckland Airport: a former colleague posed as a pilot and attempted to gain access to a secure area. There were arrests and court appearances. Contrite, Boyce was discharged without conviction.
He brings this up unprompted when I ask whether, as fathers of young children — each has two primary-aged kids — they have an increased sense of responsibility as broadcasters.
Pryor starts: "My major thing is, don't do anything that's gonna embarrass the kids in the schoolyard and get them bullied. And I guess another thing from a family point of view is I'm like, don't go out and get drunk and do something f***** up that's going to jeopardise the career or the income."
Boyce continues: "Obviously I had the terrible airport experience which I learnt a hell of a lot from. I've probably been ultra-cautious, which I should be, since then. It was horrible and I put my family through a lot of stuff and it was no one else's fault but my own."
They spend a lot of time together. During the restraint of trade period, they probably spent more time with each other than with their families.
"I think our friendship and professional partnership works well because we both want the same thing," says Pryor.
"I don't think we've ever had a serious argument," says Boyce. "One time we got into an argument about something."
"I wanted to bring a stripper into the studio and he's like, 'no we can't bring a stripper into the studio'," says Pryor.
"I think it was something like that," laughs Boyce.
"And on the way home I was like, you made the right call," says Pryor.
The best double acts — like the best partnerships in any walk of life — are a seamless fusion of two skillsets. I wanted to work out what each brought to the duo.
"I'm very boring," says Pryor. "Ben's a very social man. He'll go out a lot more than I would. I literally go home, mow lithe lawns, drink beer."
I also wanted to understand more about their humour. We talked about how comedy goes in cycles, from the prank style spearheaded, at its most extreme, by Jackass, to the more naturalistic approach characterised by the original, UK iteration of The Office.
"We had a lot of conversations about it, particularly when the TV show was on," says Pryor. "Even from when the show started at 10pm to when it finished a couple of years ago, the stuff that changed over that period was just insane. We would look back on early episodes with some of our team and we were, can't believe we said that.
"I guess the trick with comedy is moving with the times. But what's moving with the times and what's just being too overly sensitive? You hear from a very small vocal group of people about what's right and what's wrong. But then the majority of people who actually agree with you probably aren't going to go on the internet.
"It feels like comedy at the moment is in a more natural banter space. If you came out with a prank TV show, I don't know how that would fly."
They're planning two shows for TVNZ — one to a format created by a production company, the other from an idea of their own.
Inspirations are dominated by big-name US talk show hosts, such as the Jimmys Kimmel and Fallon, and James Corden.
"That was probably what we were trying to do on the [previous] TV show," says Boyce, "create a New Zealand version of that, obviously without the big-name guests coming and sitting on the couch every night."
"Or the millions of dollars," says Pryor.
After TV finished and they were radio-only, they spent, as Pryor puts it, "a lot of time just reassessing where everything was at and what the next step was".
"I guess we could have gone, let's go our separate ways or whatever," says Boyce. "But we really love working together and we feel like we've got more to offer together."
At time of writing — and who really knows how the lockdown's going to pan out — their breakfast show will start on April 20.
"[Broadcasting to] parents and kids is going to be a good challenge for us now," says Boyce. That's probably where we are in our lives."
There's another reason I liked them: they've got substance as well as silliness. Pryor made headlines in 2017 for an emotional TV speech urging people to talk about mental health after a close friend took his life. Our first interview is the day after the third anniversary of his death.
"The night before the funeral, which was also the same day as our telly show, I was talking to my mate, and he was like, are you going to work tomorrow? And I was like, yeah, I was going to, it's kind of live," recalls Pryor.
"So he was like, what the f*** are you doing? [But] if you're doing it you should get a message across.
"I sat on it overnight then emailed Ben and our boss in the morning and just sort of said at the end of the show I'd love to mention something, and they were both obviously very supportive. And I went to the funeral that day and went from the wake to the TV show.
"I went back to the wake after the telly show and the guy who I was talking to the night before said, how did it go? I was like, it was a bit of a shambles. I cried and it was a bit of a mess."
But then came the media coverage encouraging more people — particularly blokes — to talk about mental health.
"You don't want to get too preachy," says Pryor, "but it's a huge platform to get important messages across if needed."
While their careers are far from done, they're a decent chunk in. I wondered if they had any sense yet of what their legacy might be.
Pryor: "We filled in some airtime."
Boyce: "We did some stuff."
Pryor: "In all honesty, I don't think we would ever go down in New Zealand comedy history."
Boyce: We're not Taika Waititi, Flight of the Conchords, Billy T James or John Clarke."
And they're "really excited" about what comes next with The Hits and its parent company.
"This might mark the first time anything positive has been written about us in the Herald," says Pryor.
"To be honest, that's the main reason we came across," says Boyce.
• Jono and Ben's Iso-Luncheon starts at noon on Monday on The Hits and will also be available through iHeartRadio. Their breakfast show will start on April 20.
Jono and Ben's career photo album
Ben: That was when the Spider-Man game was released on Playstation and Jono had to endure a spider on his face while I played the game.
Ben: This was behind the scenes of an MC event we were doing together. If you're looking for average jokes for your event, we're your guys!
Ben: This was from when we tried to break the world record for the longest amount of TV interviews. It was during a 30-hour non-stop broadcast and things got a bit weird the more tired we got!
Ben: This was when we headed to LA for TV and radio a few years back. I think just before this photo we got told off by the Beverly Hills police department for jaywalking!
Ben: Buckingham Palace on our first overseas trip for the TV show where we both ended up on Graham Norton's red chair.
Ben: The icecream on my face was from a random skit we had to do ordering drive-through with those dental mouth openers on!
Ben: Reenacting the Leo and Kate scene from Titanic on a boat party … where our careers were probably also sinking at the same time!