Growing up in Bethlehem, 3 News entertainment reporter and quirky funnyman David Farrier always knew he was special.
David, who was born on Christmas Day 1982, was acutely aware of the parallels between himself and an important religious figure.
Walking through the halls of Bethlehem College in the Bay of Plenty, his feet wereclad in “unfashionable, yet comfortable” Roman sandals.
“A lot of people have said that makes me the Jesus of Tauranga,” he says with a grin. “I wouldn’t call myself that, but I’m happy if other people do.”
And although he admits it makes a great yarn, David’s attitude to such a high-profile birthday has always been one of mild annoyance and good-natured frustration.
“Love him or hate him, Jesus is an okay dude and he did some pretty cool stuff,” David says. “So you can’t really compete, can you?
“I am bitter. Big time. I’m 30 now, but it was years and years of only being given one present, and people telling you it’s “both combined” with the line “it’s a little bigger”. It never was. It was a scam.”
Despite his parents’ efforts to celebrate his birthday each year, David can’t help but feel as though an important part of his childhood was stolen. Although his mum Pam did bake the same amazing chocolate cake each Christmas morning, and he has fantastic memories of great presents that included a budgie (he really loves birds).
“I mean, I got through it,” he grins. “But because I went to a Christian school, I didn’t even get any of the good jokes. It was kind of sacrilege, I guess. So I missed out. I got no good jokes out of it, I lost my birthday and I lost my presents. It’s been a huge rip.”
And while he would have loved people to walk behind him singing Mary’s Boy Child by Boney M (“That would have been amazing”), David still likes Christmas, despite boycotting the holiday for five years in his late teens.
“When I was 17 I tried to make a point, so I celebrated Festivus instead,” he says.
The parody secular holiday, which originated on a 1997 episode of Seinfeld, replaces the tree with a metal pole, presents with “feats of strength”, and the traditional dinner with the “airing of grievances”.
“I’d get a bunch of friends around who weren’t into Christmas either, and we’d sit around the pole in the lounge and arm wrestle.”
With his 31st birthday approaching, and now happy about not celebrating ageing, David, who manages to be into Star Trek and heavy metal at the same time, says his 30th year has been one of his best yet.
“I look at it more positively now, it’s nice to not have the focus on getting old,” he says. “I’m quite obsessed with age. I’m genuinely terrified of dying. When I turned 30, it hit me like a freight train. I realised life is short. So now I’m rushing around to get things done. I took up paddleboarding. This year’s been really fun, a blur.”
From jetting to Texas to interview a 62-year-old female game hunter, to cozying up to Sandra Bullock, 2013 has been weird and wonderful for the Aucklander, with a lot of travel thrown in.
“That’s why I love journalism, you never know what you’ll be doing tomorrow,” says David. “Interviewing Sandra was amazing. All I could think when we sat down was, ‘Damn, you’re 49?’ She’s just beautiful and cool and smart and funny.
“Russell Crowe was great, too. Everyone badmouths him, but if you just level with him and talk about any kind of sport, he’s on your side. He’s a genuinely nice guy, he just doesn’t put up with any crap. He didn’t throw anything at me!”
David’s even managed to make friends with some celebrities, including Glee and Californication star Stephen Tobolowsky.
“I tweeted him something and he tweeted back straight away,” David says. “Within 12 hours, he’d driven to my hotel in Santa Monica and was giving me the most amazing interview on the beach.”
Twitter is an important part of David’s life. He has almost 22,000 followers and his tweets are numerous and hilarious.
But that doesn’t mean he’s funny in real life, he says.
“I think that when people meet me, they are bitterly disappointed. It’s easy to be funny when you are posting links and pictures!”
And while his job at TV3 has evolved since he arrived as a fresh-faced 23-year-old, still wearing his Roman sandals (“John Campbell used to give me so much stick for those”), he’s happy in his current role, and doesn’t harbour much ambition.
“I have no idea where I want to go,” he says. “[UK radio host and podcaster] Karl Pilkington said this amazing quote once: ‘You don’t get anything done by planning.’ That may be terrible life advice, but I think it’s really good. Unless it’s going horribly wrong, I think it’s just good to let life happen.”
Which may explain David’s plans for his birthday this year – picking up Stephen Tobolowsky and his wife, Ann, from Auckland Airport, and spending the day showing them around the city.
“It’s bizarre, but it’s happening,” he laughs.
And though the injustices of childhood still rankle, his Auckland flat is certain to be be decked with Christmas decorations, including an authentic tree.
He’s even taking part in a Christmas play, A Basement Christmas Carol, where he’ll play the role of colleague John Campbell alongside Labour MP Jacinda Ardern, who’s playing Helen Clark, and Michael Hurst, who’s playing Sir Peter Leitch, the Mad Butcher.
And it almost makes up for the fact David was never asked to play Jesus in the school nativity play.
About Kelly Bertrand
“I started at the Weekly after a two-week internship in 2011, which was part of my journalism studies. Basically, I hung around and annoyed people long enough to land a job as a staff writer, and I’ve been here ever since. I’m lucky enough to get to write stories ranging from the Kardashians through to the Queen, but my real passion is telling the stories of New Zealand’s sporting stars. Sometimes I can’t quite believe it’s my job to hang out with All Blacks and Silver Ferns! I absolutely love working at the Weekly, and feel really privileged to be part of this 83-year-old Kiwi institution. I’m also fond of Instagram, coffee and animals dressed as humans!”more of this author