Bro’ Town Live on Stage

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

04/03/2008 - 05/03/2008

New Zealand International Arts Festival

Production Details


Bro’Town Live on Stage, the world’s first reality stage show (about a cartoon!), will be a star-studded affair. The crew have roped in famous faces from the show to help them tell their story, including Scribe, Flight of the Conchords, Neil Finn, Lucy Lawless, John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld. These special celebrity guests will feature in person and via video-link during the two night live performances on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 March as part of the New Zealand International Arts Festival.

Bro’Town Live on Stage is a sneaky behind-the-scenes look at the country’s favourite comedy, jam packed full of surprises, scandals and the stuff they couldn’t show you on TV! Series creator Elizabeth Mitchell, the Naked Samoans – Oscar Kightley, Mario Gaoa, Shimpal Lelisi and David Fane – and bro’Town’s awesome artistic geniuses Ant Sang and Maka Makatoa, get together to tell you the true story of bro’Town, from its first days of conception, right through to the current fifth series.

Bro’ Town producer Elizabeth Mitchell says, "ro’ Town Live On Stage will feature  a mixture of the creatives telling the story of bro’Town (complete with reenactments!), animated items prepared especially for the festival, featured special guests, and even a little bit of audience participation."


Get up close and personal with some of the country’s favourite performers, our most loved celebrities in a one-off multi-media show-and-tell session that brings the proudly suburban and non-pc satiric adventures of Vale, Valea, Sione, Mack and Jeff de Māori to the stage for the first-time ever!

Bro’Town Live on Stage for two performances only at the St James Theatre, Tuesday 4 & Wednesday 5 March, 7.30pm.

Tuesday 4 March – Scribe, John Campbell & Carol Hirschfeld live in person. Flight of the Conchords, Neil Finn and Lucy Lawless via video link.

Wednesday 5 March – Scribe live in person. Flight of the Conchords, Neil Finn and Lucy Lawless via video link. 

1hr 15mins, no interval

More deserving shows robbed

Review by Lynn Freeman 12th Mar 2008

David Fane and Oscar Kightley can rely on their charm and wit to get them out of many a difficult situation, but not this one.  Bro’Town Live on Stage is a bit of a giggle in places and some of the film clips are entertaining.  But is not Festival quality and has robbed other more deserving shows which pitched for funding, from having the opportunity to create something remarkable. 

When Oscar told the opening night audience that the script for this show had been finished at 5am that morning, I don’t think he was kidding.  

Now I’m not the target market, though I’m fond of The Naked Samoans, and devotees of Bro’Town clearly got a kick out of it.  But less money needed to be spent on flying in ‘celebrities’ (what a waste of having Scribe live, give the guy a set!)  and on goodie bags, and more put into  shaping and producing the show. 

They’ve let themselves down, but far worse, they’ve let down the Festival which put their faith in them to produce an entertaining and fun night out.
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Informative and entertaining celebration of success and celebrity

Review by John Smythe 05th Mar 2008

The story goes that back in 1996 Oscar Kightley and Dave Fane checked out a Samoan comedy show at the Laugh Festival and told each other, "We could do that." Twelve years later, after NZ International Arts Festival organisers nudged them for an idea, and having checked out Nancy (voice of Bart Simpson) Cartwright’s one woman show My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy, they said it again: "We could do that." And after a fashion, they have.

Bro’ Town Live on Stage flicks through the process by which Bro’ Town – the extremely popular animated TV comedy show – came to grace the flickering screens of New Zealand homes, and a number of other countries.

In a relaxed and chatty format, supported by screened images and video clips, and live narration from Teuila Blakely (who I think is the voice of Sina Tapili and was in Sione’s Wedding with the gang), the Bro’ Town team tell their story to avid fans who pack the large St James theatre.  

So we learn how, for the 1977 Laugh Fest, Oscar and Dave roped Mario Goa and Shimpal Lelisi into creating Naked Samoans Talk about their Knives*. For some reason they don’t mention the hugely successful shows that followed: Naked Samoans Go To Hollywood, Naked Samoans Wake Me Up before You Go-Go, Naked Samoans – The Trilogy and Naked Samoans Go Home (some of which involved other actors like Iaheto Ah Hi, Jerome Leota and Robbie Magasiva). This is a shame because I believe that solid grounding in developing their particular brand of comedy, as writers and performers, in front of live audiences, has everything to do with why they are such a success on television. That’s where they honed their craft and paid their dues,   

But TV commercials producer Elizabeth Mitchell, who had known Oscar since 1988, saw that first show and that’s where the seed was sown for an animated TV comedy, so that’s the story we follow: the hook up with TV3’s Caterina DeNave; winning part-funding from NZ On Air; finding the rest through product placement deals; consolidating the design and animation … Ant Sang (designer) and Maka Makatoa (Animation Director) join the team on stage and demonstrate their skills with two volunteers from the audience – an element that could have been shared much better with the crowd via the live video cameras.

Meanwhile – again not made very clear – the boys were very busy, separately and together, on a wide range of other projects, not least because the idea of cracking this one felt like a pipe dream. But crack it they did.  Much fun is gained from claiming they failed to get the scripts written while the animation team waited in vain – and De Nave’s script notes about their recurring attempts to do unmentionable things with a chicken roll is very droll.

The central story, building up to the series launch on Sept 2 2004 at 8pm, is interspersed with video (or sound) clips of affirmation and celebration from other celebrities: Flight of the Concords‘ Jemaine Clements and Bret McKenzie, who end up jamming with Neil Finn then getting locked into a hilarious never-ending finale; Lucy Lawless, who first met Dave at a gathering of Catholic school head prefects!; The Rt Hon Helen Clark, who accompanied HRH Prince Charles to a March 2004 Festival performance of Niu Sila (co-written by Oscar, with Dave in the cast) and talked him into uttering "Morningside for Life!" for the as yet unknown show; Chris Knox in fine form …

And live on stage we get John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld – Campbell sends himself up marvellously with his earnest theory about the "Ming vase fragility" of our egos when it comes to accepting send-up – and Scribe (call me Scribble), who knew Oscar when they were 15 in Christchurch. (Note: I don’t think Campbell and Hirschfeld will be on for the second show on Wed 5 March.)

Bro’ Town Live on Stage is not super slick but that would never be their style. It’s a reasonably informative and entertaining celebration of success and celebrity.

*The title derives from Harry Sinclair’s 1977 movie Topless Women Talk About Their Lives.


Jeremy Elwood March 6th, 2008

Aaron - you're quite right about overseas (particularly the US) having a solid flow between live comedy and TV comedy. Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, Titus, Roseanne, Everybody Hates Chris, The Cosby Show, Black Books, The Mighty Boosh....the list is pretty much endless. And you're also right about standup being a full time pitch to US TV, often to it's detriment, as many performers only do stand up to try and break that market. Here, however, live comedians aim first and foremost at the live market - partially because until recently there seemed little hope of doing anything else. As a result, as both yourself and John have mentioned, by the time they get to TV they have literally hours of tried and true material - FOTC being a perfect case in point. Comedy writing and comedy acting are great skills, and utterly essential, but what we seem to overlook here is that there are numerous people out there who do both, night after night, in front of the best barometer of what's funny and what's not that you can get - a live audience. My hope is that talent gets tapped into before we lose more of it overseas. My feeling is that it is starting to happen. I hope I'm right.

nik smythe March 5th, 2008

...Melody Rules, on the other hand ... (ducks to dodge armfuls of compost as hurled by angry mob distressed by the memory) ... showed what's possible with newsreader-led situation comedy.

Paul McLaughlin March 5th, 2008

Please let's not start on "Welcome to Paradise"... (shudder)

Aaron Alexander March 5th, 2008

Quite right. Overseas you see comedic television is developed using experienced live comedians as a creative base. In fact, my understanding is in the US mainstream stand-up is in a sense a constant pitch for network TV- though others could comment more authoritatively on this. The point is that here there seems to be a mistrust in television of comedians, and a tendency to put comedy in the hands of TV writers, ask them to write 'funny lines' and give them to actors to say. Often resulting in catastrophic failure. Bro Town and Flight of the Conchords are examples of live comedian-led television projects. Welcome to Paradise, however...

Jeremy Elwood March 5th, 2008

"I believe that solid grounding in developing their particular brand of comedy, as writers and performers, in front of live audiences, has everything to do with why they are such a success on television. That's where they honed their craft and paid their dues" - Great point John, and one that gets missed far too often.

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