Loose Canons10.05.23
#loose canons#pijf#

Loose Canons - Janaye Henry

Gorgeous, hilarious and crush-worthy, Janaye Henry shares the five things that inspire her as a comedian, actor and writer.

Loose Canons is a series in which we invite artists we love to share five things that have informed their work. Meet the rest of our Loose Canons here.

Janaye Henry (Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa) is a comedian, actor and writer who enjoys creating content for voices that don't often see themselves represented in media. She can be found on her Instagram (@JanayeH).

Tangata Whenua

Zany to start by saying I’m inspired by a whole population of people - I guess I specifically mean I always think about how we are historically good storytellers when I’m doing comedy. It’s true of a lot of Indigenous people too - like our histories survived because we passed them down orally. I am reminded every time I am around my whānau that while I’m the one with a microphone on stage, it could just as easily be any of them because being funny and being able to tell a mean story is a part of being Māori. I like being in a room full of Māori cracking each other up because the complete replaceability of myself on stage is comforting to me - it could be me or anyone else in that room. It’s hard to explain but I think it boils down to belonging to a community larger than myself! The piccy lala is of myself and Waiora who is simply one of the best people I know, can spin a crack up yarn and we always have chats about these kinds of things.


We’ve really jumped but I’m a complex girletto. The complete overstimulation is almost meditative to me, I don’t think a single thought in that place. While working in Dunedin on Sexwise I would literally walk to the Timezone by myself, Airpods in. I would wave hello to the people at the counter who had seen me every day, I would win a singular plush and then I would leave. I got so good at the claw machine it was haunting, I think I won upwards of 9 plushies in that city. It wasn’t about the plush, it was about the win. I don’t think you can see traces of Timezone influencing my work, but trust Timezone to keep me zen and ready to put my guts on stage night after night.


It’s my favourite place in the world. My whānau whakapapa to there, we have whānau still up there. It’s the most grounding place I could possibly be. I love staring at Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē, I love visiting my Uncle Willie and seeing his beautiful garden with frogs, I love the fish n chips at Bidz Takeaways. I don’t get up there enough because I’m a city RAT these days but I have big long-term dreams to eventually head back up in the future. Last year my parents went on a gorgeous getaway up there where Josh (flatmate, bestie boo, hubby vibes) and I went up and crashed. I was burnt out artist rat and so Josh drove me a literal 5 hours to be grounded for one weekend. It’s one of my favourite memories, arriving at 1am to a place I really adore with people who I love a lot! I fully reckon if I lived in Ahipara full time, I’d be a better person.

Hangs with Josh

As mentioned before, Josh is my flatmate but honestly so much more. Despite everyone thinking we’d be a dream couple we are both very much queer (and in different directions) however we still have built a beautiful life for us! My schedule is hectic, sometimes my room feels like a storage unit more than a bedroom because I’m never in there. Josh is one of the calmest people I’ve ever met and can always read what I need. We’re doing beach swims in the middle of winter, we’re doing Kmart runs at 11pm, we are driving outside of light pollution to look at the stars! I like how we can go from deeply wholesome and grounded to like the Maccas drive through. Josh is the perfect person to be an artist around because he helps keep perspective, like nothing is really that serious or permanent so do what feels good and serves your kaupapa. I think every person needs a Josh in their life, unfortunately for you he is ultimately an introvert and MY flatmate so you’ll have to find your own.

“Calling It”

Gabby Anderson (fellow comedian, bestie bb, all round angel) and I simply love to call it! It’s the phrase we say to each other the most. “I think I should do some work or maybe take a nap.” “Nah girlie just call it!” Calling it, to us, is admitting you are going to take a break and fully disengage from work. As humans we love to be half working, like watching TV but feeling so guilty about the stack of work you’re not doing. Well to that Gabby and I say, CALL IT! Admit to yourself no work will be done so you can just rest. Unsure whether to pull out of plans? CALL IT! If your body/gut/brain has even the slightest inclination to rest you simply must call it and rest. Don’t get me wrong, my work life balance is all up the wack but calling it regularly is always the one treat I give to myself.

'Crush Season' is showing at BATS theatre, Wellington from 9-13 May, and Basement Theatre, Auckland from 23-27 May. Tickets can be purchased from the Comedy Fest Website.

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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