There are certain comics — Marc Maron, Greg Giraldo (RIP), Greg Proops, for instance — who I seek out for catharsis– to hear and to feel a much more artfully-produced version of my own thoughts. I, like others, find comfort in reaffirmation.
That’s natural, right?
Then, there’s other comics I listen to with whom I don’t fundamentally align. At least, I don’t think I do. Until I realize, that after an hour of watching a comic like this onstage, I have more in common that I had originally thought.
If there were a list of comedians of this ilk, Nick Di Paolo would top it; the dude seriously pushes me to question my entire belief system. And maybe more importantly, reminds me that labels are dangerous.
Also, he’s fucking hilarious.
And finally, that will all be on display in his first ever hour-long special, Raw Nerve, which premieres on Showtime on April 30 at 9 pm EST.
New Wave Dynamics will release the audio version of the special with eight bonus tracks on May 2.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Nick recently to chat about his new hour, where and why he falls politically and socially, why certain networks are afraid of his act and much more. Check it out!
Why has it taken so long for a Nick Di Paolo hour special to surface?
Because the people in the industry are dumb fucks. They’re too busy looking for, you know, for the next funny chick or funny gay guy. I’m just another white guy in the mix. And there are certain networks who – and this is just my opinion – you know what their politics are and they certainly aren’t what my politics are. HBO? Come on. You know what I mean?
I mean, Bill Maher’s their hero, so you think they’re going to put somebody like me on?
They should if they want to try to cast their net wide.
No, but they don’t. The point is they’re closed minded fucks, you know? I know who they are. I worked over there. It’s the same people. I worked at HBO in the late 90s and 2000 with Chris Rock and some of the same people are over there making the decisions and I know they’re living in an insular world, you know? Thank God Showtime doesn’t feel that way.
Yeah, I guess not.
But that’s my answer to it. You can’t tell me I’m not funny enough and haven’t put out enough material since my last half hour.
It boggles my mind because you would think from a business perspective, you would think networks would try to feature a wide range of comics to get as many viewers as possible.
HBO gave Denis Miller his show years ago. But that’s before he became a real conservative.
Have you seen any conservative comics on there since? You gotta ask yourself why. It’s pointy-headed, fuckin douchebags. But I’m happy it’s Showtime because Showtime’s getting a good rep for comedy and I check out the people who have had specials on there and I’m proud to be in the mix, to be honest with you.
Absolutely. They’ve really stepped it up and embraced the comedy game.
Look what Colin Quinn had to do, not to keep bashing HBO; but look what he had to do to get on HBO. I mean he had to do a fuckin’ one-man show that was a hit on Broadway before they’d put him on, you know. And Comedy Central throws on people who’ve been doing comedy for two years and have what they think is an hour of material. It blows.
I put it on at two in the morning. I don’t recognize any of these people. You know? And then I do background checks and literally some of them have been doing comedy for five years. And they have an hour? But that’s the way life works, I guess, in showbiz. But you’re right: I think I should have had three of these under my belt by now. At least two.
Maybe this is the start of something.
Yeah, I mean, that’s true , too you know? Maybe people will have a real appetite for something a little different. At least, I think it’s different. Who knows?
So how did the taping of this special come together?
This was meant to be like a DVD followed up to the Funny How? album. And I originally shot it at the Wilbur Theater in Boston in like December of 2009, but I didn’t really like the way it came out. The way it looked, the way it sounded. And I, you know, how these things work in show business. The wheel turns very slowly. So it wasn’t until October of 2010 that I had the chance, the opportunity, to reshoot it. And I noticed that I was at Foxwoods Casino and I looked at my schedule and I was like hey I betcha’ that’s a nice room, cuz it’s brand new.
So, I said, ‘hey you know what? I wanna reshoot this thing at Foxwoods,’ which was kind of risky. And then I saw pictures of the space and it was like ‘oh my god, fuck, it’s perfect.’ It’s more intimate. It was just beautiful. It looks great. So, there’ll be material on there that was some of the material from Funny How? But there’s a whole bunch of new shit, so it’s kind of the best of both worlds, you know?
So some of those bits were half developed on Funny How? And now fully developed and then, like I said, there’s a whole bunch of new shit. And it came out beautifully. New Wave Entertainment did it. I called them and said ‘Can we do this?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, we’ll do it!’ And they came and shot it and then they sold it to – they shopped it around and Showtime bought it.
New Wave Dynamics is putting out an accompanying CD that goes with it. And on that, too, like I said there will be some crossover from Funny How? but it’s mostly brand new stuff.
Were you with New Wave all the while or is that a new relationship?
Well, Barry Katz was my manager years ago. I called him a couple years ago and said I want to do a DVD. And he’s the one who lined up the Wilbur Theatre. It wasn’t ideal circumstances. And he said if you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it. And I happened not to really like it, you know? But Barry Katz is over there, so that’s how I hooked up with New Wave.
The other specials I’ve had were on Comedy Central, which were more censored, so here I can be a little freer.
Yeah, it’s hard to get a true sense of a comedian like you on edited television.
It’s absolutely true. So, this is, you know, it’s a little more unfiltered and I like it. It’s socially relevant. I talk about the Obama Administration. I go after Unions a little bit. I talk about me getting older as a comedian. It’s good. It’s a good mix of autobiographical and political.
That’s what I really liked about your last album. I loved the personal stories about you and your wife, and I loved the political stuff. I’m a pretty socially liberal person; but as I get older, I find that I’m thinking more conservatively about other things.
Yeah, we all do. The colleges do a number on us and then we smarten up.
You mentioned unions; and that’s one of the things I’m becoming more conservative about. I would love to get your overarching opinion on contemporary unions and what they’re all about and if it’s working and if not, how are they not working?
To quote the bit I do on the special, I’m sure they had a place 50, 60, 70, years ago when we were chaining a woman to a fucking loom for 18 hours without a shift break so she could make umbrella handles… but now people want $200 an hour to put a bumper on a GM car, you know? Fuck you. We’re going to bankrupt the country ‘cause your kid needs dental? They’re fucking ruining the country. And I got fucking lawyer friends that say the same thing. They used to be very liberal. The tax payers are taking it in the ass, come on! There’s bus drivers in Michigan that are making $186,000 a year.
Really? Really? You’re going to fucking try to argue that? And to try to scale that back makes people bad on the other side? Come on. But once you give somebody something – it’s like giving a child a fucking a breast in the mouth, you try to take that tit out of their mouth and they go shithouse. It’s just human nature. But, you know… and there’s a whole bit in there, I won’t do the whole bit, but you know, I was at a hotel, hotel workers were on strike, picketing, and half the picket signs were in Spanish, which infuriated me.
So, I’m sure there was a need for unions— fucking CEOs used to be greedy fucks and they worked guys through, you know. I worked at a construction company when during college, when I’d come home for the summers. I worked for a construction company that did contract work for Con Ed, the phone company, AT&T. And it was a union construction job and I was just a kid and the money was tremendous. But there was a guy there that, his last name was Jones, he was a foreman. He was nuts. He used to work us right through lunch. He wouldn’t let us take lunch breaks and shit and we literally would get on the job site at seven in the morning. I used to get home 9 at night.
|Nick DiPaolo – Diversity|
He was nuts. He was crazy. And I went back to college. A month after I was back to college the labor relations board busted this guy. So I’ve seen both sides. But now, with all these civil rights groups and lawyers looking out for people’s civil rights? That shit ain’t gonna happen no more…maybe in China. Bits like that, I’m proud of. To make a crowd laugh and you’re talking about unions, that’s a lot harder to do than if you’re talking about your dick.
My dick also belongs to a union. But George Carlin used to say about, you know, anytime people start getting into groups and they start getting arm bands and slogans, he goes, he used to say how he hated that. That’s when shit goes awry.
You mentioned Obama. I obviously know where you fall politically. I think a lot of liberals, a lot of democrats, are at the very least, nonplussed with the administration. In all honesty, if you were giving him a grade, what do you think he’s earned so far?
I know this is just going to sound typical of me but, fucking D-minus.
This guy is a college professor who’s never had a real job in the real world. He was a senator for 144 days; he’s so far in over his head. Are you shittin’ me? It’s embarrassing. He knows nothing about business or the economy. I think he’s proved that.
I know there was a big hole when he took over but look how he’s trying to fill that hole. To spend more than Bush did? Four times as much? You don’t have to be a genius to see it. No leadership skills. Foreign policy, forget about it. You know? As far as the war goes, though, I’m with like Ron Paul on that one. Pull everybody out of everywhere. Bring them all home. I’d like to try isolationism, you know?
The rest of the world fuckin’ need our business. As shitty as our economy is, China still needs us to sell us garbage. Tell the rest of the world, hey, we’ll do business with you, but that’s it. And if you try any shit, we’re going to fucking melt you down. That’s what I’d do.
I’d have [Rudy] Giuliani as president and Pat Buchanan as secretary of defense. Who else is in there that’s a real righty? Just to get some balls back. The world doesn’t respect us.. Obama went over there and kissed the Muslim world’s ass; yeah, that’s really helped us. I think he’s been horrendous. I don’t think he hates the country and stuff but the way he handles the economy, it makes me wonder. It feels like he’s deliberately trying to break the system. It’s fucking crazy to me, you know? But, you know, he’s likable.
People used to say oh George Bush is the kind of guy you could have a beer with. I never thought that. I wasn’t crazy about Bush either. I’d rather hang out with Obama and smoke a joint and play hoops. He is a cool cat and very likable, but I don’t give a shit.
Do you think Donald Trump hinting that he’s running for president is a complete joke or what?
I don’t know. I always thought Trump came off as a big doofus. Every time I saw him on TV I’d go, ‘how is this guy rich?’ And it wasn’t just a case of his dad handing him a lot of money, he really grew his dad’s business. He’s definitely a great businessman. But I don’t think he’s what we need right now. What’s he know about foreign policy? ‘Wow, I banged a couple supermodels in Yugoslavia at a car show.’
What’s his foreign policy experience? But it’s kind of refreshing for him to say all this shit about China needing a slap in the ass. A lot of it I agree with, I just don’t want him executing the plan. He’s not a dumb guy. But I like a more well-rounded candidate. I voted for Romney in the last primaries, and I still like him.
|Nick DiPaolo – Spending Money|
He seems like a semi-decent dude.
Yeah, Romney looks like if you’re making a movie, and you needed a guy to play the president in a movie, it would be him. He looks like a guy from a 1950s toothpaste ad. Doesn’t he look just like a president? It’s hilarious. It’s too funny. It almost hurts him. And he’s a good business guy and he seems, not to get too political, but I kind of like him.
I’m not as conservative as you may think. If anything, I’m a libertarian. Look, I don’t care if gays get married. I’m pro-choice. I don’t give a fuck about any of that social shit. But a part of me would like to see a guy like Newt get in there—someone who’s a real conservative, just to sort of balance it out when Obama’s done. Have you seen Newt when he laughs. He looks just like fuckin’ Jack Black. See Newt the next time he laughs. That’s what Jack Black is going to look like in 30 years. I’m telling you. It’s uncanny.