Friday, December 8, 2023

“When You’re in a Job Where You’re Trying to Make People Happy, You Forget to Ask Yourself ‘Are You Happy Right Now?’” – Laura Daniel on Reality, Reflection & Rolling With the Punches

There’s no one quite like Laura Daniel – fierce, funny and a hell of a good chat, she’s New Zealand comedy royalty, and perhaps our accidental queen of reality television. Currently winning over the hearts and minds of the nation on Celebrity Treasure Island, Laura’s latest telly turn has been the most wild yet – and that’s saying something after dominating our screens for years on shows such as Jono and Ben, 7 Days, Taskmaster & Seven Sharp. Here, she chats through what’s next.

Hey Laura! It’s been a hot minute since we’ve had a chat and last time you might have just been the busiest gal in NZ – how the hell are ya?

[Laughs] I’m not that busy, thank God! I’ve just come back from Europe and crazy in the sense I’m trying to catch up on life admin. But it’s not too crazy right now.

Amazing, how was it being one of those people we muted on Instagram out of jealousy?

Look, fair enough! I was very aware of that! But it was amazing. We were there for a friend’s wedding, and then my husband and I were like, well while we’re there, might as well do our Two Hearts show in London.

You’re great at the ‘two birds one stone thing’ – go for a holiday, might as well get some work in. It’s a real modern woman vibe.

Yeah, it just works. We made the decision not to go to the Edinborough Festival, it’s such an expense. We realised that if we did a season of our show in London, we’d actually make more money. It was a lovely way to do it all! And Joseph, my husband, was like, ‘I need a holiday’ – I was like, ‘sure – and this, and this, and this!’

God, SO many couples couldn’t work together the way you and Joseph do. What’s the secret?

Here’s the thing, we worked together first, and then we became besties. So when we started our relationship we’d always worked together, so it’s just always been that way. People are always like, ‘ooh, workplace relationships!’ but I’m like, go for it! You clearly gravitate to each other for a reason. I do find people come to me when they have a crush on someone at their work and they’re like, ‘how do you do it?’

Do you know, you would be a bloody phenomenal agony aunt. I feel like they need to come back.

YES. And this would be my pose [leans back in her chair and pretends to smoke a cigarette]. A whole lot of ‘WRONG DECISION, GIRL!’. God, I’d give the most crazy advice.

We might have to pop a bit of a disclaimer on the bottom.

*Capsule does not approve of this message* – exactly.

Amazing. And of course you’re married now – congratulations! Your wedding looked amazingly beautiful and fun.

Thanks! It was the day before New Years Eve, it was amazing. We took two years to even decide what we wanted. Here’s the thing. Once you start planning it, you make decisions and as we got closer I got that feeling of, ‘why the hell are we doing this?’ It’s SO much money. It’s crazy. But you won’t regret it. It was so much fun.

YES ok I’m just starting to plan my own wedding and this is exactly the advice I need.

Do what’s going to make you happy, you know! I feel that way about travelling sometimes, like why are we doing this? But then I think the world’s going to be on fire soon, so you might as well do things that make you happy. Oh, we’ve already started the agony aunt column!

Ha! Speaking of things you won’t regret, my God – are you New Zealand’s reality show queen now? It’s been Celebrity Treasure Island, Taskmaster, Dancing with the Stars, Celebrity Bake Off and The Masked Singer. Jesus, it’s impressive stuff. What can’t you do?

I genuinely said to myself before I went in ‘don’t do it, don’t do it’ and then when they asked I was like, yup! I’ve had friends do it and they said it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it’s really fun, and it was. It’s really intense. It’s much different to anything else I’ve done. I said to myself that this will be the last one I do in this realm – unless there’s an all stars, or something!

I’ve always had a weird theory that younger women have such an advantage going into something like CTI because isn’t it just like being a teenage girl again? There’s fights, you’re hungry and you don’t know what the hell is going on?

[Laughs] That’s exactly it – and then you’re on school camp. I did feel like it was a little like being back at high school sometimes, you make these really crazy bonds and it seems like it’s your whole life. It’s a crazy show. Here’s the thing, I think I went into it a couple of times thinking sometimes ‘what’s the trick here?’ – it was my Taskmaster mind working! And then it’s like, ‘aw, there isn’t a trick. I just have to DO this!’

I know you joke about the reality show thing, but it’s pretty amazing that so many people get to see all the different sides of you and your personality. Is comedy still your number-one, though?

Career wise, the last few years, it’s hard because you have to do where the work is. The way TV is going at the moment, and all the things – and Covid – you have to be adaptable. I trained as an actor. Over the last two years I’ve lost some really big gigs, which are all acting ones, so you have to take other work in the comedy realm… the point is that I do enjoy doing stuff that’s not just comedy, but at the heart of it all I’m an entertainer. What draws me to things is what is going to make people smile and be happy.

And you know what, this is what people need more of right now! It must be great to be able to do that for people.

Absolutely, and I’ve always loved what I do. I think the balance you find in yourself sometimes, is just when you’re in a job where you’re trying to make people happy, you forget to ask yourself ‘are you happy right now?’ You need to reflect back – and it’s something you learn over time. Or you go to a deserted island to film a reality show.

Do you know though, that’s such a female thing right, the people pleasing and making sure everyone else is ok around you. It’s exhausting!

That’s why you see anyone who works in comedy as well, they’re often the people who have, like, so many problems [laughs]. They don’t take the time to reflect themselves.

And what does that reflection look like for you?  What’s next?

There’s definitely a few goals, including having a show, a scripted series – we’ve been close many times! – and we’d love to get that across the line. Myself and Joseph are looking at making a move overseas potentially, because it’s a bit now or never. I think that’s on the cars, just for a little bit, next year. We just want to try a different pool. We’re looking forward to it!

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