2 May 2019

Talking to the haters: Jamali Maddix

From Nine To Noon, 10:07 am on 2 May 2019

When Jamali Maddix takes to the stage, expect brutally honest material on the state of society and personal tales of hate and confrontation from his travels around the world.

Jamali Maddix

Jamali Maddix Photo: comedyfestival.co.nz

Maddix is host of the Viceland show Hate Thy Neighbour in which he explores the rise of resurgent alt-right views.

Far right views are not new, but now they are being vocalised more, he says.

“We went through a phase, say like from the end of World War II, we were like, all right, there we go, done, we’ve beaten it, we beat the Nazis over, that sort of ideology of Nazism… we had a couple of years where we were living in Western Liberalism and we kind of let things slide a bit and we kind of ignored things and the internet, the dark edges of the internet boiled up, boiled up, their frustrations were boiling up and now we’re in the situation we’re in now.

“I think it’s always been an undercurrent that’s been happening, I don’t think this kind of thing happens overnight.” 

Maddix grew up in Ilford, Essex an area just outside London, where there is a lot of poverty.

“It never really had the gentrification of London, and it had the financial wealth of Essex, so I lived in this weird middle-town, there wasn’t a lot happening.”

When there’s no work, no hope, people who don’t have your best interests at heart will come and make you believe that people that don’t look like you are the problem, he says.

“A poor white person has more in common with a poor Asian person than with a politician.”

The politician doesn’t have your struggles, he says.

“I think a lot of it is prospect, is hope, it’s not like I don’t have a job today, it’s that I might not never get a job and it’s like why don’t I have a job? Because Raj stole job. And I just don’t believe it to be reality.”

Maddix left school with no real qualifications but he re-sat exams at college, having to lie just to get in, he says. He has dyspraxia, dyslexia and ADHD.

“In England there was no talk of Ritalin, there was never even a debate of putting me on Ritalin, i know in North America it’s very much… they just prescribe it quite freely. When I got diagnosed with it in the late '90s, the early 2000s it was sort of, they were kind of understanding what it was, but basically what it just meant is they just put me in special education, and not to look down on those people in special education but… it was quite demeaning for me, it was quite an embarrassing time in my life.”

He started doing standup when he was 16 or 17 years old.

“It was terrible, like it was awful, I got booed and everything but I loved it, there was something about it that just gravitated me towards it.”

He started taking it serious a couple of years later and went full-time when he was 23 years old.

A couple of seasons into making Viceland’s Hate Thy Neighbour he started hating the internal politics of the channel, he missed standup. 

“I didn’t want to make it anymore and I just missed standup and it was a real weird feeling and the only way I can explain it is like I felt like I was missing a twin brother.”

Maddix says on stage he feels like himself.

“Especially feeling with dyspraxia, dyslexia and ADHD it sort of funnily enough is more like a calm…I feel at home, it’s a nice feeling.”

His standup material isn't scripted, but based on ideas he's written down and worked through in his mind, he says.

“Me writing it down is me figuring out how I feel about the subject…I’m sort of writing an essay to myself about what I feel about it and when I go on stage I sort of work it out with the audience.”

It’s more like a conversation, he has a beginning and a middle but not an end.

He wants to talk about his own hypocrisy too, he doesn’t just want to say ‘you’re wrong’.

“I try to show in the show that I’m still a scumbaggy person, I still do a lot of stuff I’ve always done.”

Jamali Maddix is performing at the NZ International Comedy Festival at tonight's Comedy Gala in Auckland and then with his solo hour 'Vape Lord' gig at Q Theatre on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th May.