Billy T Nominee // Laura Daniel

One of my favourite times of every year is now, that month or two before the NZ International Comedy Festival when we get to meet the latest group of Billy T Nominees – five young comics judged to be the most promising by the industry. This year, the most well-known of the nominees is Laura Daniel, a member of SNORT, a regular on Jono and Ben, and one of the stars of 2015’s Funny Girls. At Billy T Jams, just a few hours after this interview took place, Laura did a sketch about periods that had the entire room crying with laughter. She’s a little bit dark and completely unpredictable, and I just know you’re going to love her.

You’re the most well known of the Billy T’s, do you feel any extra pressure?

Actually yes, I guess you do a little bit. I do kind of weird characters and stuff at the moment, so it’s always a bit of a risk…

Tell me three facts about you that I might not know. They don’t have to be interesting or funny.

I was born in Palmerston North.

I worked as a life guard for seven or eight years, at different pools, swimming pools. That was interesting. I was looking at one of my old facebook statuses the other day, from four or five years ago, and it said, “Oooh I’m going to do drama school I’m not going to be a lifeguard for the rest of my life!” I was like, “loser.”

I have a pet bunny rabbit, his name is Champ. I wanted a cat. I went on a date with my boyfriend to Animates, cos it’s like going to the zoo except it’s free. So we went there, and we were patting the animals and I saw his eyes light up when we were patting this bunny, and the bunny really liked us,  and then we we were like, “no we should go home and talk about it.” So we went home, we talked about it, we did a little bit of googling about what it would mean to have a bunny rabbit and the next day we were like, “you still want it? Yep. You still want it? Yup.” So we went back and got the bunny rabbit. It was a huge commitment, I realize that now.

Do you have a backyard or do you keep it inside?

No, he’s an indoor bunny.

So you do you have like a little bedroom for him?

Yeah he’s got a little indoor hutch, and then he has supervised run around time. Because he’s eaten probably about five computer chargers. They like to eat lots of stuff, they like to eat wood. Which is what we discovered at our last flat, all the skirting boards were chewed up.

Did you tell your landlord?

No we actually got it fixed before we moved out. But our new landlord knows that we’ve got a bunny, and he definitely doesn’t fuck the house up because we’re much more aware of that now.

What would you say your style of comedy is?

I would say it’s character-based, so not like traditional stand-up. It’s more in your face, whatever the hell I feel like doing at the time. I do some normal stand-up as well, I like MCing things, but definitely at the moment what I’m doing and what my show is going to be is more down the character route.

So have you had a chance to put much work into your comedy show yet?

Yep, I did a bit of work on it over the holidays right before I came back and I was like, “ I’m going to have about 75% of the show written by the time this week’s over,” and um, I probably got like a tenth done.

What never fails to make you laugh.

I like cats doing stupid shit, that’s a guaranteed, it sounds like bit of a basic bitch answer, but I’ll always crack up at something like that.

I guess when people are just enjoying themselves on stage. If they look like they’re having a really good time I’m always on board. I find stuff way more funny if the person looks like they’re loving it.

How did you get into comedy?

I started because I went to drama school up here in Auckland, I was doing little bits and pieces but not really enough, I felt, and then I got into SNORT when that started, and it was definitely the start of everything. I discovered that I liked the comedic side of it, and then when I started doing SNORT I was like, “oh I love making people laugh, maybe I can expand that a little bit and give stand-up ago.” That ended up being the scariest thing ever, but it went pretty good.

I think it’s all definitely come from being part of a comedy group. There’s so many people who you can talk ideas through with, who are supportive because they’ve been through the same thing, you know. We’re quite a tight knit group, so we’ve got a similar sense of style now. I think that was a really good platform to have behind me as I kind of discovered what my own comedy was.

I love SNORT. Is it getting harder to meet up on Friday nights as you all get busier?

Everyone’s still passionate about it I think. Now the group is like 13, so we’ve figured out that it’s better to do it with about half of us. It’s just naturally worked out that there’s the right amount of people still there and you slot in when you can. We have a thread that’s been going for two and a bit years that’s active everyday, so you’re in contact with these people constantly.

I bet that’s hilarious.

Everyone’s partners hate it. There’s always these notifications going off.

Do you remember your first ever gig?

That was the thing that made me keep going. I was the most terrified I’d ever been, SNORT’s scary because it’s improv, and acting is scary but you’ve got lines, but I think what I found scary about doing my first gig was people coming to watch something that they know you’ve prepared. It’s pretty much, are you funny or are you not? It was a really good feeling, it couldn’t have really gone better, and it was my first stand-up gig and I got approached straight away. Which you never hear of.

I ended up writing for another TV series on One, and they were like, “so how long have you been doing stand-up?” and I said, “this is my first night.”

Who would you say your favourite comedians are?

I like your Amy Schumers, your Amy Poehlers, this other chick, Iliza Shlesinger. Also my own mates are a great inspiration. Everyone who’s in SNORT. Hamish Parkinson (last year’s Billy T winner) and I work together a lot, we find each others stuff very funny, so I always run stuff by him, and vice versa.

Lastly, why should people come to your show?

They should come because they’re going to have a really good time, because it’s going to be a variety of stuff. I’m going for a more positive vibe, and it’s going to be more on the spectacle side of things. I love having crazy shit in my show so it’ll be an hour, fast paced, high energy. Then hopefully they’re going to leave it being like, “Yaaaasssss.” That’s my aim.

See Laura’s show, Pressure Makes Diamonds, from 10-14 May at The Basement as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival. GET TICKETS >>