Hooray: the great Auckland piss-take is back.
In 2011 Auckland Daze initially aired only online, but it quickly gained such a cult following that TV One slotted the series into its late-night schedule. Now that the spoof show has a bigger slice of the NZ on Air pie, we get a second helping. The first of six episodes screens on TV One on Thursday then migrates to TVNZ OnDemand, rather than the other way round.
A scripted show with an almost mockumentary style, Auckland Daze spoofs "reality shows" and satirises the incestuously small world of the Auckland acting scene, where nearly everyone's been on Shortland Street, and everyone's trying to one-up, impress or shag each other - or all of the above. Real-life mates Millen Baird, Fasi Amosa, James (Jimmy) Fletcher and Glen Levy play hapless, idiotically immature versions of themselves trying to find fame and love.
Millen is an out-of-work, out-of-shape former model whose ego is undeflatable and who still lives with his mother, a celebrity real-estate agent (Jennifer Ward-Lealand). Glen is an emotionally stunted stuntman who over-performs when not performing. Fasi is a stand-up comedian whose jokes make jaws drop, and not in a good way. Jimmy is a dwarf who can't land parts because Orlando Bloom has spread (accurate) rumours about his drinking problem.
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The convergence of awkward situations, slapstick humour, inspired quips, comic timing and deadpan expressions that rival Jeremy Wells had me convulsed in laughter. Far funnier than any recent efforts at local comedy, the show's gags that contain grains of truth and are never too in-jokey for us plebs. What's impressive is that these guys - and girls - went out and made Auckland Daze on a microscopic budget with a rapid turnaround.
Lead actor Millen Baird, who also writes and directs Auckland Daze, co-created the show with Kiel McNaughton from small production company Brown Sugar Apple Grunt.
McNaughton - who also writes, directs and co-produces - must have called in a few favours, judging by the body count of his fellow Shortie alumni and other well-known faces. Big ups to everyone with the pluck to play egotistical, mean, idiotic, bitchy, ditzy or promiscuous versions of themselves on season one, including Robbie Magasiva, Craig Parker, Brendhan Lovegrove, Will Hall, Anna Hutchison, Antonia Prebble, Anna Julienne and Faye Smythe.
In the Season Two opener, Kimberley Crossman, Martin Henderson, Michael Hurst, Shane Cortese and Alan Dale all play themselves. "Jim from Neighbours" (Dale) tries to get a newly sober Jimmy pissed enough to play Peter Dinklage's body double, Glen plays a ninja in another awesome Matrix-style fight scene and Millen plays a window mannequin. Joke-wise there are a few misses, but they're setting up storylines that promise a payoff, and the production values have definitely improved.
Auckland Daze reminds me of Ricky Gervais' show Extras, where the likes of Orlando Bloom and Kate Winslet played narcissistic, petty versions of themselves. This isn't in the same league, but it's still seriously funny on a fraction of the budget. More please.
The second series of Auckland Daze premieres Thursday, TV One, 10.05pm. The first series can be viewed at tvnzondemand.co.nz