When Jeremy Corbett and Paul Ego are working together on TV3 series 7 Days, the digs at each other fly thick and fast.
But, according to rumour, in reality the pair are best of mates. They share a bond that goes beyond the gags, and often hang out together when they’re not working.
So, is that true? Are they really that close? “I would say yes,” confirms Jeremy. “We are close. I mean, he will often finish my…”
“…lunch,” chips in Paul.
“Sentences,” continues Jeremy. “We could safely say we are close. Actually, we can say anything you want us to, we’re good at talking s***.”
This is the problem with trying to get information from these two. They are so used to cracking jokes at every opportunity, getting a straight answer is almost impossible.
For example, Paul recalls the time he first met Jeremy: “It was in about 1995 when I came back from the UK with my lovely wife Janine… and the ugly one Sharon. Nah, that’s not true… I left the ugly one behind.” Just for the record, there’s only one wife, the long-suffering Janine.
And Jeremy explains why he and Paul have stayed mates for so long. “A lot of my other friends have dropped off over the years, so Paul is it. It’s like wearing fat pants – everyone thinks you always wear them because you like them, but it’s because they are the only ones that still fit. Paul is my fat pants.”
OK, so what the Weekly can establish is the pair met when Paul returned to Auckland after doing his OE and decided to have a go at stand-up comedy. Jeremy was performing with his brother Nigel, as well as presenting the breakfast show on radio station More FM with Kim Adamson, and was impressed with Paul’s humour. Paul was invited to help out with writing for the show, and also did some on-air spots.
“I thought he was very funny and we had similar senses of humour,” says Jeremy. “A lot of comedians get very serious about analysing their jokes, but we just enjoy talking crap. That’s why we know very little about each other. We never have a proper conversation.”
“I only discovered yesterday that Jeremy had children,” quips Paul.
“7 Days is essentially us speaking nonsense, then somebody edits it and turns it into a TV show, which is pretty cool,” says Jeremy (51), whose previous TV jobs include presenting Pulp Comedy and the short-lived game show Deal Or No Deal. “If they gave out Emmys for talking s***, then we’d be up on stage collecting them. We’re good at it.”
“Actually,” says Paul (47), who is the voice of the Pak’nSave ads, “I’d be up there twerking like Miley Cyrus and Jeremy would be right behind me, like Robin Thicke.”
“Yeah, I’d be Robin Thicke, a little bit p***** off that you are stealing the limelight. There’d be a bit of professional envy there,” says Jeremy.
So is there really jealousy between them? Would they like to do each other’s gigs?
“The thing with Paul and me is we’ve never been truly successful, so we’re always jealous of someone else. Like Dai Henwood. He’s popular. You don’t have to put that in.”
“I think Jeremy wants to be the voice of Pak’nSave as much as I want to be the face of Deal Or No Deal,” says Paul. “We both have our crosses to bear.”
They have lots in common, they say. Like children. Paul and Janine have two sons, Gabriel (13) and Isaac (8), while Jeremy and wife Megan are parents to daughters Charlie (2) and Billie (six months).
“When we first had our kids, Jeremy and Megan were great,” says Paul. “Not a sounding board exactly, because they didn’t have kids then and knew absolutely nothing, but they were very supportive in the tough times. And now they’ve had kids… well, we’re not interested, to be honest.”
“We’re not getting a return on our investment,” says Jeremy.
Paul: “Just watch what we did and do the opposite.”
Jeremy: “Your kids are great, we’d like to emulate you, but when I want advice you won’t pick up the phone, which is weird because I know you are home. I can see both cars.”
A few of the comedians on 7 Days have young ones, and when they discuss child-rearing, Paul tends to chuckle to himself.
“It’s usually after they say things like, ‘I’m sure it won’t last forever’ or ‘It won’t cost that much’,” says Paul. “I just say, ‘Yep, kids are great, I couldn’t imagine my life without them.’ Which is true, but only because I don’t have a very good imagination.”
As well as appearing together on 7 Days, Jeremy and Paul made the comedy series The Radio, but there are no plans for any new collaborations at the moment.
“A lot of comedians have one-year or five-year plans, but a five-day plan is about as far as I go,” says Paul.
“I don’t even have that,” adds Jeremy. “I just ring Paul and say, ‘What’s on your five-day plan and can I do some of it?’
“That’s why we’re still friends. If I was organised, I could ditch Paul and move on. But we can’t be bothered. We’ve got nothing happening – that’s what we’ve got in common. Availability has underscored this friendship.”
“That, and being easy to work with,” says Paul.
“Yeah,” says Jeremy. “We’re available and we’re easy. You can put that in.”
Photos: Todd Eyre • Styling: Claudia Renford • Jeremy & Paul wear suits, shirts, shorts & ties from farmers, shirts from ezibuy. Jeremy wears jacket & jeans from farmers, shirt from cotton on, Paul wears shirt & hooded shirt from cotton on, jeans from ezibuy, shoes from converse.