Comedian Alice Snedden is writing Golden Boy, a new sitcom. She trialled her show Absolute Monster in Melbourne ahead of Auckland's Comedy Festival in May.
1 You're the head writer of the new sitcom Golden Boy, the winner of comedy pilot week. How's it going?
It's so much fun. We've just started shooting. The actors are great; Haley Sproull is the lead and James Rolleston is her All Black brother. It's a sitcom in the classic sense which New Zealand hasn't had in a while and I don't know that we've ever really nailed. Bronwynn Bakker, who also produced Funny Girls and Jono and Ben, has pulled together a group of writers including Nic Sampson, Eli Matthewson, Thomas Ward, Brynley Stent, Chris Parker and Kura Forrester. We mostly come from a sketch comedy background so we had to figure out how to write a sitcom as we went along. We were really clear on our premise, structure and characters and then just tried to make them as funny as we could.
2 The podcast The Worst Sitcom Ever Made investigates the downfall of Melody Rules. Does it feel risky re-entering that territory?
No. You just try it, do the best you can and stand behind it. If people don't like it that's totally fine, work is subjective, some people aren't going to be into it. You just move on.
3 As the head writer of Funny Girls and Jono and Ben, were you sad when they got canned?
I was sad for the comedy community. Both shows created a platform where young comics could experience what it's like to produce a weekly TV show, try things out and learn and develop. The fact nothing has replaced them is s***. There seems to be an emphasis on reality TV. I can't wait for Netflix to come here and disrupt the market. I think that's close to happening and it'll be good.
4 You perform your new stand-up show Absolute Monster at Auckland's Comedy Festival in May. What's it about?
It's about thinking you know who you are and then surprising yourself by some of the things that you do. It's more personal than my previous shows which is a bit scary and uncomfortable. It was great trying it out first in the anonymity of Melbourne. It's not quite there yet, so it'll evolve as I perform it in Auckland, then London and Edinburgh.
5 You've been making the podcast Boners of the Heart with Rose Matafeo for three years now. With such busy careers, do you find it hard to get together to record it?
We're not often in the same place at the same time so we record it remotely. It's like a recording of our friendship; we weren't that close when we started. We'd met at the Melbourne Comedy Festival and hit it off. Then writing Funny Girls, we'd have these weird chats - mostly about who we wanted to have sex with - and Rose suggested a podcast. The feedback was really positive so we kept going.
6 Do you plan what you're going to talk about in your podcasts or just wing it?
In the early versions we'd have a plan but we usually end up diverting onto something completely different so now it's just whatever comes up. It's rare these days to put your phone down and have an hour-long conversation where you really listen to what the other person's saying. That's a building block to a fast friendship. We've developed a solid, deep, joyful friendship which is such a gift.
7 You've done sell-out shows based on the podcast in London and Melbourne. How did they go?
It's basically just us doing the podcast on stage. In Melbourne we asked the audience to bring questions along. We had Oprah's most frequently asked questions as backup, so we went through and answered them all, one for one, over an hour. That was the show. It's a truly bizarre concept but the audience was laughing. Most of them knew us from our podcast.
8 You've got funding for a second season of your web series Bad News. Is it comedy, politics or social commentary?
It's a mix. I'm hoping to raise issues in an entertaining way. Some episodes have more pathos than comedy like the one on refugees which attracted even more online heat than the episode on Māori language with Don Brash. New Zealand has a real undercurrent of xenophobia. We also did an episode on police apprehension rates being disproportionately high for brown people. To illustrate the point, I went to Aotea Square and blazed up while blasting Bob Marley but nothing happened.
9 In your first show at Edinburgh, called Self-Titled, you mined your unusual childhood in Ponsonby. What was unique about it?
I'm one of five children who grew up in a big, rambling house with an open-door policy so we lived with lots of people who weren't relatives. My parents are Catholic and religious but they're also liberal and very politically active. My dad Pat was part of the Bastion Point occupation and became a negotiator for Ngāti Whātua. He now chairs the Auckland District Health Board. I went to Auckland Girls Grammar but in sixth form switched to Western Springs where I instantly felt right at home. My grades plummeted but my social life and happiness went up heaps. That's where I started experimenting with drugs. Just low-level stuff like marijuana - the cool stuff.
10 What did you want to do for a career?
I liked doing speeches. I took myself quite seriously. Becoming Prime Minister was my career trajectory. It's not too late, but there is some content out there that could be mined by opposition parties. I thought about being a PE teacher - I'd played soccer, cricket and table tennis to rep level - but I failed health science in my first year at uni because I was too busy partying. I ended up doing a law degree and got into comedy while bartending at The Basement.
11 Did turning 30 this year feel like a big turning point?
No, I feel like I made the most of being young and carefree. After university, I bought a house in Grey Lynn with a group of friends using my parent's home as leverage. We subdivided and sold the back section to repay them. Now we're knocking down our house to build six 2-bedroom apartments which ten of us will buy at cost. My brother split the back section with two mates who built two houses on that as well, so we've got 14 people into the housing market on one piece of land.
12 Do you have any hobbies?
I love to cook. This New Year's, I went to a house in Matakana with Rose, Chris Parker and my friend Hannah and we cooked a six-course dinner for 25 people. It was my idea of heaven. We spent 12 hours making fresh ravioli stacked in a pile which was a huge mistake because it stuck together so we had to cook it as one massive ravioli and chop it up like a pie. Some was over-cooked and some was raw. We just slathered it in herbed butter and pretended nothing had happened.
• NZ International Comedy Festival, May 2 to 26, www.comedyfestival.co.nz