For the better part of two years the WSU, Nexus, and The University of Waikato have been bringing comedy to the students of Waikato. Nexus sat down with the man who has been at the heart of all of it. Former Hamilton Comedian and MC Paul Douglas.
NEXUS: Having been in the crowd for a fair few of your gigs now the question we need to lead with is, how gutted were you with the decriminalisation referendum?
PD: Haha, pretty gutted but not for personal reasons. I’m gutted for the people who could benefit medicinally and for the minorities that have been unfairly prosecuted in the past for small weed charges. It’s silly, the average Joe doesn’t realise how easy it is to get already. I remember sitting down to watch the 2pm update, seeing it was a no and then going ahh shit and lighting a joint….
NEXUS: Can we ask the cliche cheese question, who were your influences growing up that got you into comedy?
PD: Billy Connolly! Several people in my extended family have been big fans for many years. It’s where I get my storytelling style from no doubt. I remember watching Billy as a kid and not really understanding what he was saying but it was still funny. I admire how much he is himself on stage, I feel like I do a pretty good job of that as well but still have a long way to go to get to his level!
NEXUS: What is the week to week like of a comic, do you tend to have regular gigs coming in or do you have to do some side gigs to make it all work?
PD: So so random! I usually average around 4-5 gigs a week during the busy periods which I’m very grateful for. Inevitably there are some weeks where I have 1 or none. Otherwise, I’m subsidising my income as a writing contractor for television. During the days you’ll catch me writing jokes, watching sports and golfing. Riveting stuff.
NEXUS: Recently you showed off your 2009 University of Waikato Student ID on social media, what sort of a student were you?
PD: Elusive. I actually split my time between Detroit and Uni during my degree which is why I don’t have any close friends from university. Just as we were about to Bro down(or Hoe down, I mean that with the utmost respect), I’d piss off back to Detroit and then come back a semester behind. Admittedly I was a shocker for attending lectures, at Highschool I was able to talk way more shit but that’s almost impossible in a lecture cause you’ll just look like a madman so I was basically a ghost but I got decent enough marks! But now I tell jokes for a living and still have a student loan for something I likely will never use. NICE.
NEXUS: If you could give any advice to that 2009 Paul Douglas what would it be?
PD: Don’t get so into the Blackcaps, back to back World Cups final loses are going to take you to the depths of sporting despair!!! Actual answer? If this was a time travel situation I’d probably just have a beer with myself and not give any advice knowing that whatever went down led to me living my dream of being a stand-up. Big believer in the butterfly effect! I reckon I’ve held in farts that might have caused an apocalypse.
NEXUS: What is your writing process like, do you actively try and sit down and write a whole new set of do you just keep refining a tight 20 minutes and push new stuff into it?
PD: There’s no real rhyme or reason but I tend to take several notes I’ve written down to an open mic and just riff on the ideas without worrying if they are too funny or not. Really at that stage I’m just trying to see if the premise makes sense. I’ll continue to just riff and work it out on stage until I’ve got a few punchlines to grasp on to. Then I’ll jump on the computer and start refining what I’ve learnt on stage. I avoid trying to write verbatim what I’ll say on stage. My jokes will always be a little different depending on the night, that way it feels fresh to me and the audience.
Nexus: What is the weirdest crowd reaction you have had to deal with?
PD: I wasn’t so much as weird but it was easily the most I’ve divided a room. I was MCing the most pissed up Christmas gig ever at a wedding venue in the country. One particular table was especially rowdy and a one-arm bloke who had been amputated near the elbow kept waving his stump at me and saying things to the effect of “tell some jokes about pussys and tits”. I tried being polite but he just kept ramping up till I shouted “If you don’t shut the fuck up I’ll come take your other arm”. Half the room turned on me and the other half thought he was a piece of shit that probably deserved to lose his arm haha.
Nexus: You obviously love coming back to these Uni gigs, but what are the comics you haven’t bought down yet that you think would absolutely kill it here?
PD: Oooh good question. Melanie Bracewell is on a real tear at the moment and I think would level this gig. We’ll get her down soon enough. There are also a bunch of weird and wonderful new comics coming up through the ranks that I think would really appeal to the new generation coming through Universities.
Nexus: Outside of comedy what do you like to do to relax?
PD: Chill with the wife, golf, beers with friends and a winner winner two skinner!
NEXUS: Finally, we are making this a bit of theme this week, if you could book any concert, with three headliners (living or dead) who would they be and why?
PD: Dave Chapelle, Bill Burr, Patrice O’Neal. It’s the murderous row of comedians I can think of. Billy Connolly is my all time favourite but a lineup with these 3 in specific would be something to behold. They are similarities but are all so different but most importantly kill harder than most comics could ever dream of.
Paul Douglas will be on the green this Tuesday night for Orientation ‘21 with Guy Montgomery, Liv McKenzie, James Mustapic, Natalie Sami. The WSU has already paid for your tickets so come and grab a couple.