- The cast of 7 Days Live
7 Days Live – the theatrical version of the popular Friday night TV panel show – is once again winging its way around New Zealand, and will arrive in Wellington soon. I spoke to team leader Dai Henwood just before the show’s Hastings performance.
You’ve now done over 100 televised episodes of 7 Days, plus toured the show around the country. How do you keep it fresh – both for you and for the audience?
The upside of it is it that when we travel on the road we’ve got five producers, and they each day put together a different show – so we’ve got no idea what’s going to be in it. The first half of the show’s all standups; everyone on tour is a bona fide standup [comedian]. I mix up my standup a lot, and as I was saying we’re never that sure what’s going to be in the actual show, so it’s sort of see what happens when Jeremy [Corbett] starts talking.
That sort of answers another of my questions, which was what’s the difference between this and the televised version? I guess it’s longer, right?
Normally [for the TV show] we shoot for about 2 hours, and that gets edited down to 24 minutes. For this one [the live shows] we just do a second half, which is one hour, and really fast paced. There’s probably a bit more riffing [and] it’s probably a bit more risque than the TV show as we have no censors or anything like that.
I’m often pretty surprised in what you do get away with – what gets through the censors and gets televised.
Yeah dude, so am I! It gives me faith in New Zealand television every time I watch the cut and go “good stuff, they let that in”.
And the show’s just been funded for a fifth season?
Yeah – it’s amazing, we’re all funded and all good to go for another 30 episodes next year, which is exciting because to be honest going to work is just amazing. I knew it would be a bit of success, I had that feeling, but I didn’t realise it would be going just as strong into our fifth season.
How long do you think you can maintain it?
It can basically go on – we still feel as fresh as when we kicked off, and for me I feel it can just keep going on, because the content constantly changes with the news, so we just stick to the format and as long as the news keeps happening, we can keep joking about it.
People might argue that [the news keeps happening] in New Zealand.
Oh, they certainly would, but that actually brings up another thing – New Zealand’s really embraced the show and really gotten behind it, it’s been a great positive.
Yeah, I was going to say – panel shows are really big in the UK, but 7 Days is the only really successful local one I can think of, apart from that sports one, ah-
Game of Two Halves.
Yeah. What do you think has been the secret to 7 Days’ success?
I think the secret is that we just really all like each other. We’ve all worked together, we’re all strong standup comics, which I think is a must, and we like working together. It’s not so much about each performer, it’s about the relationships between the performers. You can see that we all get along, we know exactly how far to push each other, and exactly how can take as much grief, who can’t take grief, and that sort of carry-on. It’s a fine line and we’ve got it sussed.
Is there any one town you’re most looking forward to playing on the tour (when answering this question bear in mind that I’m writing for a Wellington-centric website)?
I’m always going to say Wellington. I was born and raised in Thorndon Heights, which is Wadestown, and the State Opera House is the first place that I went after I was born, because my dad was in a show there, and actors looked after me backstage while he went on stage. It’s a venue close to my heart, and that’s definitely the gig I’m looking forward to.
Do you have any other standup shows planned in the near future?
Yeah, I’m writing a brand new one for the [comedy] festival next year which is called Adapt or Dai: Humans are Awesome – which is about how humanity is the best animal on the planet and why we’re the best animal – but also closer to home me, Steve Wrigley, Justine Smith and Urzila Carlson are doing two nights at the San Fran Bathhouse before the 7 Days tour.