Hybridizing the Mainstream in Pasifika New Zealand
This chapter focuses on the portrayal of transgender in New Zealand televisual comedy, including shows associated with Pasifica. Since the mid-1990s, transgender has been a common fixture of New Zealand television, especially comedy. Many comedies featuring transgender, such as Skitz and The Laughing Samoans at Large, are explicitly associated with Pasifica. In form and comedic sensibility, these “Pacific-influenced” shows are heavily indebted to fale aitu, the Samoan carnivalesque theatrical tradition featuring transvestism. This chapter examines the apparent paradox presented by the comedic act Topp Twins and other New Zealand transgender performances through the lens of Pacific identity. It shows that New Zealand televisual comedy, and New Zealand popular culture more generally, is influenced by Pacific clowning and Samoan fale aitu.
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