Midway through a two-minute bit about how he abhors Rosie O’Donnell, veteran Nick Di Paolo gives a quick anti-disclaimer to the packed room listening to him record his latest comedy album: “This ‘ain’t According to Jim. This is a comedy club. Buckle up. This is the only place where we can say shit like this anymore.”
A lot of comics who claim to fight against political correctness tend to fall short in doing so. Rule of thumb is this: If they protest too much, there’s a reason. That reason? They’re not all cutting-edge.
That’s not to say Di Paolo is cutting-edge; in fact, he’s a throwback to the time when stand-up comedy was politically incorrect in a much more organic way. On Funny How? – recorded at the Acme Comedy Club in Minneapolis — the former Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn mainstay and current Comedy Central-roast favorite rarely makes an issue out of the fact that he’s consistently politically incorrect. Instead, he just is.
You see, Funny How? is a place where fat jokes still prosper, where Barack Obama is not the savior of this country and where gay folks aren’t necessarily the victim – but the target – of punch lines. O’Donnell’s a fat wildebeest capable of bringing down a skyscraper during a step class, Obama’s not even black (since Nick’s nipples are darker than Obama’s skin color) and Abercrombie & Fitch is an inexcusably “faggy joint.”
But before anyone too quickly cries foul in the name of misogyny, racism and homophobia, know this: Di Paolo is just as critical of himself throughout his hour-long set. Of course that doesn’t give a comic license to bash groups of people the way Di Paolo does. But that’s the beauty of stand-up comedy. You don’t need a license to do it, no matter what horrible things you say.
And despite the seemingly venomous bits throughout, not once would a well-versed comedy fan get the sense that Di Paolo is a hateful person. Like the master he is, he knows when to pull back from outside targets and shit on himself. Though you may not agree with everything he says, you can’t help but want to destroy that sensitivity chip in your brain for the hour he’s onstage. Only then can you fully enjoy what Di Paolo has to say.
It’s as if Nick has given the crowd the release it’s been seeking — the permission to laugh at a good old-fashioned, mean-spirited zinger, like when he jokes about his aging, descending testicles: “My wife said you oughta get a tattoo on your thigh that says, ‘Beware of falling rocks.’ I said I will, if you get one on your tits.”
Thanks, Nick. Thanks for being a funny prick.
Check out a track from the album below and buy Nick Di Paolo’s Funny How? here.