Rose Matafeo is a comedian, writer and actor from New Zealand who began her comedy career at age 15. In 2018, her stand-up show Horndog won the top comedy prize at the Edinburgh Fringe, and she subsequently recorded Horndog in posterity for HBO Max in 2020. She has become a fixture on TV panel shows in the UK, and you may have seen her as a contestant on the popular program Taskmaster, or performing her stand-up on Conan. She also starred in a feature film, Baby Done. For her latest trick, she has co-created and co-written her own starring sitcom vehicle, Starstruck, in which she finds herself in a rom-com collision with a famous movie star. Starstruck almost got sidelined by the COVID pandemic, but its first season has aired on the BBC and HBO Max, with a second season (and more) already written! Matafeo spoke with me about quarantining in New Zealand for five months while wondering if her TV show would actually happen, the relatively young age of the New Zealand comedy scene, memories from Montreal’s Just For Laughs, and why comedians think of other people as civilians. So let’s get to it!

Please enjoy this excerpt of our conversation…

The Comic’s Comic: “I was joking with you at the beginning of our conversation here about civilians, because it’s mentioned in the first series (of Starstruck)…”

Matafeo: “Oh my God.”

The Comic’s Comic: “For anyone in the comedy business, it’s a term that gets thrown around a lot, at least…”

Matafeo: “In America?”

The Comic’s Comic: “Yeah. People who aren’t in comedy are called civilians.”

Matafeo: “I always find it so funny…Do you think it’s said ironically? Or is it said genuinely, like, because that’s an aspect of stand-up and maybe it’s an aspect of comedians in stand-up that might be more prevalent in the U.S., where it’s, you know, it’s feeling like you’re the shit. You’re the fucking shit, man. And that style of comedy is very, I’d say…I don’t know, maybe it’s male? And it’s maybe kind of potentially lends more to an American style, but it’s that kind of like, I’m here, I’m onstage, I got the mic, you’re gonna listen to what I’ve got to say. That is the polar opposite of me. I look like I’m under duress most of the time I’m doing stand-up. I’m like, not making eye contact. I’m talking very fast. I’m apologizing for being onstage. Which also is just as annoying, possibly. But yeah, I think I am, I think comedians are the scum of the Earth. And. We shouldn’t be proud of being comedians. We should be embarrassed for being comedians. It just should be pure embarrassment. There’s nothing good about it. We’re the lowest of the low. We are merely jesters. And we’ll be the first to be killed by the king.” 

The Comic’s Comic: “In that case civilian is a compliment, because they’re civilized and we’re the barbarians.”

Matafeo: “Salt of the Earth!” she laughs. “Yeah, the salt of the earth civilians!”