Father-daughter comedy duo Half and Hāwhe taking Aotearoa by storm

  • 14/06/2021

By D'Angelo Martin for The Hui

Stand-up is considered one of the most challenging forms of comedy, but father-daughter duo Half and Hāwhe are making it look easy.

Courtney Dawson and her dad Heta are relatively new on the stand-up comedy circuit but are already making their mark, winning awards and filling up clubs with their unique and hilarious take on whānau dynamics.

Heta says he was inspired to give stand-up a go by a workmate.

"He did an open mic night and he was telling me all about it, [saying] 'Everybody was laughing at me, they laughed at the right places, I was in such a high'. And I was just looking at him dead in the eyes and I was saying, 'Bro that is so cool, bro', and in my head, I was thinking, 'I think I'm funnier than you'... And that's how I got started. I just said sign me up."

It didn't take long for Courtney to follow her father's lead.

"I remember thinking there is no way I would ever do that. I was really scared to watch you. I thought if you bomb I'm going to pass away with embarrassment. But then my dad was like 'Oh just give it a go'. I did it and then I really enjoyed it.

The pair enjoyed individual success: Courtney was co-winner of the Raw Classic Comedy Quest and Heta was a grand finalist before joining forces as Half and Hāwhe.

"We talked about how we would tell jokes about the same subject matter from different perspectives and both as a father and daughter but also generational differences," Courtney says.

The pair also have very different coping mechanisms when a routine doesn't go to plan. 

"If something falls flat, you just kind of shrug your shoulders and just keep going. I'm a 53-year-old male, what do I care about what you think?" Heta says.

Courtney says she's still learning how to react when a joke doesn't quite hit the mark.

"I'm like 'Aaagh' and I like to tell other jokes over the top and get flustered, then I leave and go and have 12 beers and hate myself for a week."

Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence, with the pair being praised for their performances, and they're encouraging more Māori to step up to the mic. Heta says Māori have plenty of material to work with.

"Māori are naturally funny, they're great storytellers. I mean, you hear it around the kitchen table, walking down the street, at parties. They're just natural."

Watch the video above.

Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and NZ On Air.