Paul Ego celebrates seventh birthday of 7 Days

7 Days hosts Paul Ego and Jeremy Corbett
7 Days hosts Paul Ego and Jeremy Corbett

Today is a special day for hit comedy TV show 7 Days - its seventh birthday.

The irreverent weekly panel show that takes a sideways glance at the week's news is celebrating with a special hour-long show, and a performance by iconic Kiwi band Herbs.

The guests are Steve Wrigley, Ben Hurley, Urzila Carlson, Tom Furniss and the main three - Paul Ego, Dai Henwood and Jeremy Corbett.

Ego is a veteran comedian, awarded with the illustrious Billy T Award way back in 2000. Since then, he's become renowned nationwide for his comedy, radio hosting and Pak'nSave ads.

Ahead of tonight's special birthday episode, Ego sat down with Newshub for a chat.

There's been seven years of 7 Days - what are the seven best things about the show?

One of them is my shirts.

Another is how much flack Dai Henwood takes about his size. Really, he's not actually that little. He's actually 5" 11, but we shoot him from quite high up and give him a really small seat. Dai is 5' 11", I'm 7' 2" and I think Jeremy is about 6' 5", so comparatively Dai seems small, but he's actually larger than most human men.

The catering is always one of the best things. I don't know who is working on our cheese platters at the moment, but they're absolutely nailing it.

So long as those first three things are in place, the other four, whatever they are, fall into place.

Who is your worst enemy on the show?

Probably Corbett. He is my nemesis. We're kind of like opposite sides of the same middle-aged man. If you flip us over, there's a head on one side and a tail on the other, I'm not quite sure. We know each other so well, we know how far we can push it with each other and that's immense fun. 

That's the good thing about doing this show with your mates - you know where the line is and you always step over it, but you know they'll be OK with it.

If your jokes and Jeremy Corbett's jokes went into a jail cell, whose would come out alive?

I'm so glad you asked, I've been ruminating over that little conundrum for weeks. I actually booked myself into Mt Eden prison to be really method and try and figure it out. And the answer is, mine would, definitely. 

We have a similar kind of vibe with some of our humour, but mine has more of a tinge of taking things too far. Corbett tends to pull back just a little bit - every now and then you'll see him go over it on the show and everyone will go, 'Oh! No, not from you, dad!' But I tend to lack the handbrake and go through the wall, and go, 'Well, now I've ruined it'.

Why do you think the show has proven so popular?

Well I think it just happened at the right time in New Zealand. We hadn't had a satire kind of a panel comedy thing for a long time. So Kiwis were starved of that kind of thing. 

There's panel shows overseas that are all of a similar ilk, but the great thing about 7 Days is there's not much international news in it, it's very local. That's one of the strengths of it. It gives people a sense of belonging and a sense of ownership of the show. We talk about stuff like some guy stealing 100kg of bacon in Levin, then the next time someone drives through Levin they'll go, 'yeah it is lacking in a bacon smell'.

It probably has something to do with you guys just being regular Kiwi jokers too.

Yeah people can actually see us just walking around the street. We are just kind of normal - well, 'normal' is a strong word. But we are people that you can see, living in the city that we make the show in. When we go on tour people can see we're just normal people doing a tour in a van, we're not arriving by limo or anything like that. 

It does amuse me when people see you in Farmers or the supermarket and you can even hear them go, 'I think that was Paul Ego!'

Paul Ego celebrates seventh birthday of 7 Days

It's been a rough year, with so many horrible attacks and scary political movements overseas. Is it hard to know where to draw the line when making jokes about news stories?

We always try and err on the side of thoughtfulness. If there's a story that's particularly fresh or brutal - anything that involves kids or a Pike River or something like that - there's no humour in that anywhere. There's no fun to be made of anyone involved in those things. There just isn't. 

Sometimes you can comment further down the track on how badly it was handled or something like that, but when it comes to those sorts of things we just give them a really wide berth. But we are bound to offend somebody else in some way - don't worry, nobody's going to miss out.

Is it still OK to make fun of Donald Trump or is his danger too real?

No, we should make fun of him as much as possible. The only thing that really worries me about him is the seed he has stirred in some of middle-America. I don't think he himself has the brain or the backing to take it any further than he currently has - it's all going to implode pretty shortly, which is well-deserved. He doesn't know what he's saying, how he's gotten this far I really don't know. But it is a worry that people think he has made good points. 

It's definitely still OK, go for it I say, let's try and pull him apart.

How do you think 7 Days has changed you as a comedian?

I think the style of comedy I do on 7 Days has always been in me, waiting to come out. I've always enjoyed stand-up, but I have always thought there was another side to it that I hadn't quite gotten to. I think 7 Days has unleashed that more. Just to say everything that pops into my head, just say it, take it in weird directions. Sometimes it's hard to have the courage to do that on-stage, when you have 30 minutes of material you can rely on and it's been working for a long time. Now, I like to do a combination of those two things. I've got my routine and stories, but if I can, if the audience is up for it, I'll work off them and improvise. 

Somebody said to me, 'If you could be like you are on 7 Days on stage, all the time, it would be amazing'. I always keep that in mind. I haven't quite cracked it yet, but I'm on the way.


The special 7 Days episode airs tonight at 9:30pm on TV3.


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