Serious stuff for Funny Girls:
Three’s popular sketch show Funny Girls is marking 125 years since women won the right to vote in New Zealand. Los Angeles-based Kimberley Crossman tells Sarah Nealon what’s in store.
Comedy show marks 125 years since women won the vote in New Zealand.
In an era when New Zealand has a female prime minister, it is hard to fathom a time when women could not vote in this country.
But that was how it was until 1893 when, thanks to the efforts of people like suffragette Kate Sheppard, the law changed.
New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the vote. Even then, the country didn’t have its first female MP until 1933 when Elizabeth McCombs won the Lyttelton seat in a by-election.
To celebrate 125 years since women won the right to vote, Three is screening a Funny Girls one-hour special.
Funny Girls Suffragette Special is a collection of sketches and stand-up pieces. It will feature well-known Kiwi women and some of the usual Funny Girls cast, such as Laura Daniel (Jono And Ben) and ex-Shortland Street star Kimberley Crossman. Look out for actress Teuila Blakely and seasoned funnywoman Justine Smith.
One notable absentee is UK-based Rose Matafeo, who won the coveted best comedy show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last month.
Crossman, 28, who lives in Los Angeles, flew home to New Zealand for the show and other projects.
She grew up in Auckland and remembers learning about people like Kate Sheppard at school.
The actress is proud to be associated with the Funny Girls special and hopes viewers are not only entertained but that they also learn something.
“Every sketch has a reason behind it. It’s making an observation and whether you agree with it or not, it’s taking a certain stance and making a point.”
– Kimberley Crossman
“I think what Funny Girls does is what a lot of sketch shows don’t do (because) our show isn’t just wackadoo,” says Crossman.
“Every sketch has a reason behind it. It’s making an observation and whether you agree with it or not, it’s taking a certain stance and making a point. Often those points can be pretty poignant and polarising to some, and that’s kind of our job as comedians to bring light to certain issues or take certain stances.” Crossman, who also interviews celebrities for The Project, first visited the US in 2013 and has been flying back and forth to New Zealand ever since.
When TV Guide spoke to her, she was on her sixth trip back here this year.
Last year she got a green card which she says was a game changer.
“It was about four years of going back and forth and that was exhausting too,” she says.
“It was like working here enough to financially support myself and try over there and then coming back here. But I’ve been lucky in that in those four and a bit years I’ve worked a lot.”
Crossman, whose boyfriend is a US line producer, says she always wanted to be a performer.
“My mother is a ballerina and a dance teacher so I’ve always grown up on stage dancing and I’ve always been a bit of a show off,” she says. “I love attention so this seemed like a great path to go down.”
In the past few years, Crossman has appeared in US series Hashtaggers, White Famous and Golden Globe nominee Smilf, in which she has a recurring role as Kit-Cat. That last show is a comedy drama created by and starring Frankie Shaw as a single mother. “Frankie Shaw actually wrote the role for me because she’d seen me in something else so when I’m having those days that are full of doubt and terror, it’s nice to have those things to hold on to which make you go, ‘OK I’m not crazy’ – because I very well could be and there are enough crazy people in that town and it’s like, ‘Oh my god, am I secretly one of them?’ ” Although she works in an industry where looks count, Crossman says in the US she hasn’t felt pressure to look or act a certain way. She says that’s probably because the roles she goes for are comedic rather than serious. “I’ve actually not experienced someone going ,‘Oh it would be better if you were thinner’. Again I’m not saying that doesn’t exist. I’m not going for the leading lady in Game Of Thrones where I’m nude half the time. I’m the funny ex-girlfriend who might murder you.” It’s clearly been hard graft for Crossman to get this far. So what advice would she give to young Kiwi actors hoping to break into the US market? She says: “I think it’s important to earn some stripes in your home town before you go to the States.”