Leigh: Literally, I was at a flat and Marc Ellis came around trying to get a friend of mine to go on Sports Café as a guest. They were always short of guests, no-one showed up, that sort of stuff, and they wanted some guy to go on and just pretend to be a sports snail trainer. And this flatmate, he wasn’t into, it he said ‘No way, I don’t want to do it. Leigh might do it.’
Half an hour later I’m in a car driving to these studios with a Tupperware container full of snails. And the next thing I know I’m on there pretending to be the New Zealand Snail Training Coach or something, on the way to Las Vegas for the International Snail Championships.
CC: Was that a good training ground for you, having to hit the ground running?
Well in those days it was on SKY and there was no studio audience or anything, so it was a very dry environment. We went along there and it was only kind of him and I that knew, that were in on it, even the other people on the panel didn’t know. People like Lana Coc-Kroft - she was just staring at me like ‘what kind of idiot are you?’ So it was very tense in a way.
At the end of it I came home thinking ‘Oh great, that was kind of funny,’ but no-one mentioned anything, it was as if they hadn’t seen it, and it was about two weeks before I got any kind of feedback. I’m thinking ‘Oh God this is the most horrendous thing I’ve ever done!’ And then it turned out that it went alright and they wanted a follow up story, so it kind of grew from there.
CC: We’re currently screening Moon TV – it’s pretty off the wall comedy, did you struggle when you were first pitching the concept for the show?
Leigh: It’s really weird, because it came from Sports Café in a way. That was on SKY at the time, so I said ‘Look, if I could give you guys a half an hour a week would you guys put it on?’ And they said ‘Oh yeah, OK.’ I had to go and get sponsorship and I think I got about $7,000 for the whole series, it was ridiculous.
What’s so funny about the Comedy Central thing is, watching them from the first one right through to the 50th one, I’m sort of sitting there going, ‘Oh sh*t I can’t wait ‘til it gets to episode 27!’ ‘Cause that’s the stuff I’m more comfortable with. It’s kind of more where I personally feel like everything came together and I think we actually started to make quite a good show. But I’m the worst critic, because all the other people, they like all the ridiculous early stuff!
CC: Do you think you’ll be able to reach a new audience and gain some new fans after the show’s run on Comedy Central?
Leigh: I hope so. With the DVDs, if you go to the Wellington Sevens half the uniforms there are bloody people dressed up as Speedo Cops…I’m thinking, ‘Where did they see it? How did they see it?’ you know what I mean? But hopefully they’re not the last people to have seen it and hopefully it does reach a new audience.
CC: Can you tell if a gag is going to work in the writing stage, or do you not truly know until you perform it?
Leigh: Yeah you do know, because the writing stage and the performing stage with us is very close. It’s not like six months ago we wrote this, and you’re looking at a script, it’s more of an all-over, write the synopsis for a scene as opposed to ‘he said this’ ‘she said this’.
So you know straight away, but I think more importantly, it doesn’t matter. If it doesn’t work, just have the guts to say it didn’t work. It doesn’t matter how much time or effort we spent on this, it didn’t work, stuff it, flag it, don’t use it. Putting stuff to air that you’re not happy with is the worst thing.
CC: You really seem to revel in those drawn out, awkward moments in the show – is there a time you can remember when it all went horribly wrong?
Leigh: There are a couple of scenes where I sort of go, ‘What were we thinking?!’ I’m trying to remind myself, ‘What the f**k was going on there? Why did we even do that?’...But I like to think that with most of the comedy I’ve ever done, the joke’s always been at my expense. That’s hopefully the case!
Make sure you catch Leigh in ‘Moon TV’ – Tuesdays @ 8.30pm on Comedy Central!
Copyright : Comedy Central New Zealand