Fresh face of comedy a major talent
Rose Matafeo was a fresh faced 15-year-old when she stepped on stage to do her first comedy routine. Six years on and she’s a Billy T nominee for the second time. The rising star shares her story with reporter Danielle Street.
Playing with her hands while talking about her life as a stand-up comedian Rose Matafeo is charmingly bashful.
Despite saying she has ‘‘no idea how to put together a routine’’ the 21-year-old has earned a reputation of tickling audiences’ funny bones with an adorable mix of pop culture references and poking fun at herself.
Miss Matafeo kicked off her career while still attending high school when she took part in a twoweek ‘‘comedy bootcamp’’ run by Class Comedians, an organisation where teenagers can learn the tricks of the trade from professional quipsters like Dai Henwood and Te Radar.
The course culminates in each fledgling funny-person performing a five-minute stand up routine in a showcase that is tied in with the NZ International Comedy Festival.
‘‘That was my introduction to the whole business,’’ Miss Matafeo recalls.
‘‘I was really meek throughout the whole process and then at the last show I managed to pull it out of the bag and I got the Nailed It On The Night award. It was a true underdog story.’’
From there she quickly graduated to getting booked for shows at Queen St comedy club The Classic.
‘‘I was a 15-year-old doing open mic nights. It was a big leap, but it was pretty good.’’
Fast-forward to today and she is earning a crust as a television presenter for TVNZ’s U live programme, as well as carving out a name for herself in New Zealand’s comedy circuit.
Miss Matafeo has been nominated for a Billy T Award for two consecutive years.
The modest performer says the nomination means a lot and not just because it’s a recognition of her success.
‘‘The four other nominees are good friends of mine and it’s all really exciting because it’s a reflection of a new wave of comedy in New Zealand – a fresher look on comedy,’’ she says.
‘‘That’s what excites me the most about it. It means more to me than winning.’’
Being the only female nominee, Miss Matafeo is the minority among her contemporaries.
Not only that, but her age and Samoan heritage mean she is something of an anomaly on the comedy scene.
‘‘It’s a whammy of minorities. It really is. But I’ve never found any of those aspects make it harder for me,’’ she says.
‘‘But I do wish more girls were doing stand up. It sucks that the amount of female pro-comedians in New Zealand you could count on one hand.’’
The talented gagster says its hard to pin down how she develops a routine, but imperative to the process is to write, write, write.
‘‘Having a room full
of people laugh at a joke that you wrote is probably the most amazing feeling you can get. It’s a weird natural high.’’
Funny side: Rose Matafeo was one of the youngest pro-comedians to join the circuit when she started performing standup at age 15.