Getting the last laugh

May 9, 2013, 1:12 pm Emma Clifton newideanz

The comedian reveals her awkward past and her worst-ever onstage moments

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Despite her glamorous appearance at our New Idea photo shoot, TV star and comedian Rose Matafeo admits she hasn’t always been as stylish as she is now.

In fact, the host of TVNZ’s U live says that, as a child, she was downright weird!

‘I wasn’t cool, but I feel that the cool kids never grow up to be interesting people,’ says the Auckland-born star. ‘I had short hair that made me look like a fat version of Prince. That was character-building.’

Although she has well and truly grown into her looks, the 21-year-old still has her share of character-building experiences. She has been doing stand-up since she was 16 and has been nominated for the prestigious Billy T Award for comedy twice, but reveals it can take her a week to get over a bad gig.

‘I’m a very sensitive person, so I’m not well equipped for this particular line of work. But you don’t just do a bad gig and give up. If everyone gave up at their first bad gig, there would be no stand-ups in the world.’

The worst reaction she’s ever had to a joke was in the upmarket Auckland suburb of Devonport, where she made a crack about rapper Sisqo’s hit Thong Song.

‘It was maybe the worst target audience for my joke and their reaction was quieter than space,’ she says with a grimace. ‘It was the worst moment of my life. Only one lady laughed – not because she got the joke, but because she wanted to be supportive.’

As well as carving out a career in stand-up, Rose is relishing her role on U live, a daily music and entertainment programme that features live interviews and viewer requests for music videos. She’s been with the show for two years, and says her fellow presenters – including former Studio 2 presenter Matt Gibb and DJ Connor Nestor – are a ragtag bunch who are just as eccentric as she is.


‘It’s a really cool place for – speaking about the others here – talented, young, interesting people. I think of it as a training ground. It will be interesting to see where all of us end up.’

Rose’s boyfriend, Guy Williams, is also a star on the comedy circuit. She met the Jono and Ben at Ten funnyman years ago through stand-up, but it wasn’t exactly love at first sight.

‘One of the first times we met, he hugged me to greet me and accidentally poured a glass of water down my back in the process. That’s when I decided, “I do not like this person”,’ she jokes. The pair has now been together for two years, and Rose says it’s nice to be with someone who shares the same sense of humour – although there’s no question as to who is funniest.

‘People probably think he’s funnier, maybe because he is, but I can make him laugh. Therefore, logically, that means I’m funnier than him. End of discussion.’

While Rose quips that her ultimate goal is to be a ‘Barbra Streisand impersonator in Palm Springs’, she also has some ambitions closer to home. She would love to follow in the footsteps of Kiwi comedian and writer Taika Waititi and move into film one day.


‘Comedy is a really good starting ground because you can go in so many different directions. Taika turned his comedy career into writing and directing really funny films like Eagle vs Shark and Boy.’

Her other heroes include American comedy writers Tina Fey (30 Rock) and Lena Dunham (Girls), but Rose is careful to stress that there shouldn’t be different standards for women.

‘There is such a small pool of female comedians, so there can be a lack of diversity with the material. But audiences will laugh when something is funny – they won’t think, “Hey, that’s not what a girl should be saying!”

‘I’ve never felt people weren’t laughing because I was a girl. They probably weren’t laughing because I wasn’t funny!’

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