Fresh face of com­edy a ma­jor tal­ent

Rose Matafeo was a fresh faced 15-yearold 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. DAILY GRIND

Central Leader - - NEWS -

Play­ing with her hands while talk­ing about her life as a standup 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 two-week ‘‘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 standup 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 standup. It sucks that the amount of fe­male pro­co­me­di­ans 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,’’ she says.


Funny side: Rose Matafeo was one of the youngest pro-co­me­di­ans to join the cir­cuit when she started per­form­ing standup at age 15.

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