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Jeremy Elwood Interview
Jeremy Elwood is a comedian and actor. He has appeared in "7 Days", "The Project" and "The Letter for the King"
Has stand up comedy helped your acting career, or vice versa?
Yes and no. Once you're known as a standup, it can be a hurdle for people to take you seriously as an actor, particularly in film and TV. Theatre is a little different, I've gotten some great theatre roles because of my standup background – the timing and stage presence that comedians need is a real bonus.
Is the New Zealand acting landscape competitive when it comes to getting roles?
Yes, definitely, but having said that so is the acting landscape anywhere, I think. There aren't ever all that many roles going, and there are more good actors than you might think.
Are there any additional things that you need to think about when doing a televised set as opposed to doing a set without a camera?
There are some technical things – where you should aim your eyeline, trying not to move around too much, things like that. But the biggest trick is to try and forget the cameras are there. That's not easy. Oh, and rehearsing stand up in front of cameras before the audience arrive is a nightmare!
How difficult is being a head writer on topical comedy shows?
It totally depends on what's been in the news that week. Some days are easier than others, and some stories lend themselves more easily towards jokes. It gets particularly hard when a story runs for a long time – after nearly three years of COVID, for example, coming up with a new angle on it can get tiring.
Do people heckle you when you do political comedy when you do stand up comedy?
For some reason, I've hardly ever been heckled, regardless of what I've been talking about. You do get people who disagree with you, which is fine by me, and every now and again you get an audience who just don't want to hear anything topical, but I can't control that so I just tend to do my thing and move on.
Why do you do political comedy as opposed to less controversial content?
I'd call what I do topical comedy, rather than political, although of course everything can be politicised. And I certainly don't try to be controversial just for the sake of it. But to answer your question, I do comedy about things that interest, amuse or anger me. Comedy about stuff I don't feel strongly about bores me senseless.
Some comedians think that cancel culture and political correctness have ruined comedy, what's your thoughts on this?
I think people are over-thinking comedy most of the time, on both sides of the debate. It's not nearly as important as most people seem to think it is. And the simple truth is there is, and always has been, a lot of really shit comedy out there, so if you don't like something, find someone else to watch. Trying to "cancel" someone is a waste of energy, and hardly ever achieves anything.
What has been your favorite scripted project to act in?
An Irish play called "The Slapdash Assassin" by Mark Power. I did the world premiere at The Court Theatre in Christchurch, and later did an Auckland season of it. It's such a brilliant piece of writing, and would make a great film (that I'm sure I wouldn't get cast in!).
You did lots of work for free at the start of your career, would you recommend this approach to others, or have times changed?
When I first moved to Auckland, I deliberately did every gig I could (including a ton of free ones) for one year. After that, I stopped working for free unless it was for charity or something I cared about supporting. I have no idea what it would be like starting out in comedy now, but I suspect there are even more free gigs around, and seeing as the most important thing you can do when you're starting is get as much stage time as possible, then that's where you need to start.
What other things have helped your career the most?
I think treating it as my job, was the biggest thing. Bad gigs are just a bad day at the office, and good gigs don't mean you're suddenly some kind of superstar. Knowing that helps take a little bit of the anxiety out of what is, frankly, a pretty strange career path.
Camille Solari Interview
We have an interview with Camille Solari, she's the creator and cast member of "Charlie" on ROKU TV and Amazon Prime.
What made you want to do a sitcom from a baby's/kid's perspective?
When I was pregnant with Charlie (my first) I watched a lot of children's television to see what Charlie will be eventually watching and I felt there was room for a show that was live-action more in the POV (point of view) of a baby/toddler, but also funny, and had some grown up humour mixed in, to make it fun in a co-viewership way - meaning both the child and the parent can enjoy watching the television. Also, I really wanted to be around my baby/child, but yet I wanted to continue to work as a comedian + writer + director - and making a show where I got to be around my daughter all day was perfect and our dog Rocky who also is on the show. Then of course I had another baby Blade, and she joined the cast as well. Blade is 5 and Charlie is 7.
Most sitcoms don't make it past 3 seasons, you've at least double that. Are you proud?
It's been tricky. I mean I am the showrunner, so I am writing the episodes, directing them and it's a lot. Especially working with young children and animals, and it's hard to believe we have been doing the show for 7 years. Also, this show is low budget for television and so you have to get creative on many aspects of the filmmaking process! We use a lot of young filmmakers on the production, and they seem to enjoy getting hands on experience with TV production.
I am proud of getting to do a television show in New Zealand when Covid had shut-down most of the world. I created the show, hosted it, and directed it, and got to travel across New Zealand getting meet and interview, and be very silly with a number of "Celebrity" Kiwis. The show aired on TV Three and it was a lot of fun.
As far as my series Charlie, I've always wanted to have a TV series and about 8 years ago I decided once I had Charlie (my first daughter) I would have to devote all my energy into doing just that. It's an ideal creatively for me to get to play a comedian mother + direct and write. The producing side of making TV and Films has always come quite easy for me, I've written and sold and produced a handful of features as well as television networks in USA, Canada and most recently New Zealand.
What were the challenges of establishing a sitcom?
It's nearly impossible to get a show off the ground. Especially to do it in an independant style as I have.
Did covid affect filming? How?
Not really, when Covid was rampant we moved the show from Los Angeles to New Zealand, and when Covid hit New Zealand we went back to Los Angeles and filmed there.
How has staring in a sitcom affected your stand up comedy career?
I got into stand-up with the hope that I could land a TV series. Stand up sharpened my comedy chops and helped me be a better writer and performer.
What was your favourite Charlie moment of Charlie so far?
Getting to travel all over the world, especially in the early episodes. We went to Jordan, Duba, and we shot a really fun episode in Mainland China.
How does Charlie feel about being the star of a TV show? Can they see Lately she has been binge watching herself on Amazon Prime video. I think that's good? I think she's her biggest fan. Ha ha.
What are some of the challenges of working with animals?
My dog Rocky is the best. He is calm on set and mostly willing, and in real life won't listen to anything I say.
Where do you get your ideas for story lines and characters?
When we have to deliver an episode, I literally am writing days before we film, it's crazy, I wish I had more time. It usually stems from real life events with Charlie and her sister Blade who is also becoming a big part of the show.
How do you juggle raising a child, doing a sitcom and a stand up comedy career?
It's getting harder. I feel like my kids go to school and it feels like 1 hour and then I have to pick them up. The most important skill is dropping everything I'm working to to make sure they have my undivided attention. That's hard, but I want to be there for them. and I think I am. I guess the upside of being a mother in television who LOVES creating the best costumes and production designer - is I throw the most killer parties for my kids.