Does New Zealand finally have its late night chat show fix?
There are few television endeavors New Zealand won’t try out on its own. Cooking shows, building shows, dating shows, and shows about rich, sometimes racist, housewives.
Late night chat shows, on the other hand, seem to be a sparse breed. Two years ago saw Leigh Hart, Jason Hoyte, and Jeremy Wells undertake their smart yet short-lived comedic outing Late Night Breakfast on TVNZ, while Paul Henry spent a brief stint as a lighthearted Nightline replacement on rival TV3, before switching over to the more coveted morning roster with The Paul Henry Show.
But along comes Anika Moa, brazen and mischievous, for a slice of the late night pie with All Talk with Anika Moa. It all started last year when Moa hosted a web series called Face-to-Face, interviewing the best crop of mainstream New Zealand entertainment. She sparred with everyone from Jamie McDell to Marlon Williams, signed her name on Stan Walker’s nipple, and once had the balls to ask The Bachelor’s Art Green about his erections.
With All Talk, Moa brings her familiar chutzpah to studio format. She describes it as a cross between The Graham Norton Show and Ellen, “Except I ain't dancing like her and I'm not as gay as Graham." At the helm behind-the-scenes is Paul Casserly, TV aficionado and former director of the gloriously satirical Eating Media Lunch. With their forces combined, it seems neither is afraid to entertain, nor agitate.
Moa introduces her first guests, Real Housewives of Auckland’s Gilda Kirkpatrick and Anne Batley-Burton, with an audacious “one loves pussy, the other loves rich old men”. She then barely hesitates to launch into her first question, firing straight off the bat on the recent Real Housewives row. (“Are we allowed to talk about this?” she asks, followed by a somewhat awkward silence.)
For an all-too-brief half hour, Moa rambles through the week’s zeitgeist in her typically gonzo style, and clips of online videos segue from one subject to the next. Monster knitting needles are involved, and a brief back-and-forth with singer Kings ensues before closing the show off with a song.
All Talk isn’t reinventing the wheel. It’s the standard guest-on-sofa format that so many of its international counterparts have mastered. But Moa’s unabashed style is infectious: her mischievous smile, her faux gestures of disgust, and her affectionately free-flowing swearing, all warrant her with supreme talk show host status.
To an extent, the studio format somewhat diminishes the spontaneous tête-à-tête that flowed through Moa’s Face-to-Face interviews, and at times, it felt the audience didn’t really quite belong. But there were also segments that blossomed: The Spinoff’s Alex Casey lending a hand to dissect the strange world of bad television (Sensing Murder is back!), and the effervescent Madeleine Sami makes a welcome return to the late night landscape.
Moa was recently quoted as saying, “There are so many sides to a woman, you can never put them in a pigeonhole”, and as a mother, songstress, proud Māori wahine and unashamedly out-and-out lesbian, it’s hard to deny she’s right.
All Talk is rough around the edges, but it’s a fresh change from the white male status quo. Moa wears her heart on her sleeve, and it might just be what keeps viewers wanting more.
All Talk with Anika Moa screens on Māori TV every Thursday at 9.30pm.