When Laura Daniel met comedian Joseph Moore at a party seven years ago, the Dancing with the Stars favourite never expected it would become the plot of a successful comedy show. She didn't think he'd become her boyfriend five years later either.
"Joseph asked me out on a date at the after-party of a play I'd just done in 2012 and I was like, 'Hell no,' because I just wasn't interested," laughs the Funny Girls actress and comedienne. "But we did hook up."
Nothing eventuated, but because they share the same circle of comedy friends, Laura kept crossing paths with director and scriptwriter Joseph, 30.
"We were part of the same improv group called Snort, and when I started at Jono and Ben, he was working there."
Laura, 29, says they became writing partners.
"He's really musical and I love music, so we paired up and did the parodies and original songs for Jono and Ben. We were just friends that had a funny way of meeting each other."
Since they gelled so well, the pair decided to start their comedy duo Two Hearts and as part of their pop-music inspired show, they joked about how they met.
"We made a whole song saying, 'We'll never get together again,'" recalls Laura, whose on-screen appearances include 7 Days.
"But six months into it, we'd gotten really close from working together and I started finding him attractive. He was my best friend, but I was like, 'Oh no, maybe I like him.'"
When the pair started dating, they had to change the ending of their show.
Two years on, Two Hearts has performed at the likes of Scotland's Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Melbourne Comedy Festival. A few episodes into Three's DWTS, they also staged a week-long gig in Auckland, which meant Laura was juggling nine-hour rehearsal days with night-time shows.
"It was quite stressful with trying to learn to dance," tells the Palmerston North-born star. "I was getting about two hours sleep each night, but we actually got the highest score for our waltz that week!"
Also on her schedule was F45 sessions – a form of intensive 45-minute interval training – with Joseph, to help keep off the 18kg she lost after working on Jono and Ben.
"During the show, I'd put on a lot of weight, so I went Paleo and lost it. It's been a gradual process and you can see the difference from my promo video for Jono and Ben, where I was wearing a sequin dress, versus my promo for Dancing with the Stars."
While the Three dancing competition has kept her fit, Laura doesn't watch the scales.
"I don't want it to get in my head too much," says Laura, who made it to the final two on DWTS with partner Shae Mountain, dancing for the charity Shine, a centre helping families of domestic violence.
"I struggle with self-doubt, dancing included. I can be like, 'I'm not good enough and it was s*' because after a long day, you're exhausted," she admits.
"At home, Joseph gives me big pep talks and advice. Not in the terms of dancing, because he can't dance at all, but in staying positive. He's always told me I'll smash it and do amazing."
Laura – who scored more 10s than any other contestant this season – says one of the reasons she fell for Joseph was because he always had her back.
"He's similar to me in the sense he can be extremely confident and he's very quick and witty, but on the other hand, he's incredibly shy," she explains.
"That's common with comedians. You're over-confident because you're trying to make people laugh, but you're only doing that because you're incredibly unconfident!"
Returning to Edinburgh this August to perform again at the comedy festival, the couple are hoping to secure more international work.
"It's good travelling with Joseph because he plans things out, whereas I like to go with the flow," she explains. "I tell him I want to go to three cat cafés and he does the rest."
They'll also catch up with fellow DWTS competitor Nadia Lim in Italy, where the celebrity chef is living with her family for a few months.
"Nadia and I got really close because we train at the same time. Along with William [Waiirua], we show each other our dances and give tips. I want nothing more than for them to do well."
After travel, Laura and Joseph plan to adopt a pet.
"Joseph has made it clear we have to get a black rescue cat because they're most likely to be put down," says Laura.
"I haven't had a chance to breathe because Joseph and I are always on the go and doing something big, so after Dancing and our trip, it'll be nice to just chill – and pick a cat."
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