Australian comedian Rhys Nicholson has slowly been building an impressive comedic resume.
The 28-year-old is known for his sharp humour, bright red hair and swanky suits.
Nicholson's comedy makes light of some quite heavy life experiences.
“I definitely don’t go into situations hoping something awful happens, but I do enjoy taking either quite full-on things that have happened or even just difficult subjects… [though] I do think at the core of it I just go for what’s funny.”
Nice People Nice Things Nice situations - his new show that will feature at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival - is “quite silly” compared to last year’s tour about marriage equality and jokes about men’s genitals, he says.
Originally the title of the show was just that, a title, but then Carol from the UK emailed Nicholson.
“…she basically said to me that I’m a pervert and everything I talk about on stage it’s no one's business and she doesn’t want to talk about it."
Carol in the UK must have seen him on TV, he says.
“One of the words in the email that Carol said to me was, and I should point out that she’s an absolutely real person… that her son is gay and he’s a ‘genuine, nice gay’.”
She signed the email saying Nicholson “should grow up and talk about nice people, nice things, nice situations”.
Perfect title, he thought, and yes, Carol gets a wee hat tip in the show.
Although, he hasn’t quite taken on Carol’s advice, “I think if anything I think I’ve doubled down”.
“Nice things are not funny."
Nicholson says “If your career is going well, you should be preaching to the choir.".
“I will write a joke first and if I can make it about some sort of political or personal view as well I can try and do that but I just like jokes.”
His act hasn’t necessarily changed since then but he does now think political correctness is a good thing - 10 years ago he was obsessed with being a crass shock comedian, he says.
“The word problematic doesn’t even begin to describe it.”
When he first started, Nicholson says he thought that he had to make jokes about the fact that he is gay.
“Because for some reason, the audience would kind of be confused if you didn’t.”
These days, he says his sexuality doesn’t need to be used to set up his act, although sometimes he does make jokes that feature his fiancé.
Oh, and he did get married to a woman just before Australia’s marriage equality debate.
Nicholson was sitting on a couch, hungover, with his friend, playwright Zoe Coombs Marr, when she suggested they have Australia’s first gay wedding (Zoe is also queer).
The wedding took place at the Melbourne Comedy Festival and their partners were best man and bridesmaid.
“They just stood there looking bored and we had people do crazy performance art things on stage, a brawl broke out…”
Nicholson says, it's cliche but he's finally found his voice.
“I was a very bad comedian for a long time, out of the ten years I reckon I’ve only gotten to a point where I think that I’m a decent comedian, working comedian, within the last three or four years.”
So, what's the difference between then and now?
Now he’s writing things he finds funny, rather than what he thinks the audience will like.
Rhys Nicholson hosts the Best Foods Comedy Gala in Auckland on Thursday 2 May to open the NZ International Comedy Festival, comedyfestival.co.nz running May 2-26. He’s also back with his new solo show– Nice People, Nice Things, Nice Situations – in Auckland and Wellington later in the month.