The Comedy Offensive
Louise Ridley talks to Nick Doody about his satirical yet silly show
With his funny surname, and equally funny shows, Nick Doody’s brand of contentious humour wins praise from many corners. He made his comedic name years ago supporting the late and great Bill Hicks, who he still greatly admires. “He did really good theatrical stand up - big pieces with good versus evil - with this underlying smart political humour. I don’t agree with everything he thought, though, he was very religious, certainly.” It’s fair to say that having a bash at religion dominates Nick’s show. “I’ve covered it before but this time I’ve got sillier. Though, come to think of it, I was pretty silly last year. I have this reputation as a political ranty comic but I also like to have a giggle at things, I don’t see why you can’t have both.” He understands the importance of keeping his fiercely topical material fresh; “If lots of people hit the same things in the same way it’s best to leave it.”So why is religion such a staple trigger for comedy? “It’s so often ludicrous! Like the Sudan thing, I think ‘But it’s a bear! A teddy bear!’ We live in a changing age, fundamentalism is on the rise but there’s also a lot of rationalism. Islam has the same power in some parts of the world that Christianity used to have here. It’s a good thing to be able to criticise that power.”Rather than being on a mission to offend, it is the nature of offence itself that gets Nick’s attention, “If someone’s laughing a lot they probably aren’t actually offended. People often get offended on other people’s behalf; it’s always the guy sitting next to the guy in the wheelchair who will be most upset about a joke involving disability.”Has he ever gone too far? “I have on one occasion. I had the belief that you should be able to say anything on stage as long as you can defend it at the bar afterwards. But I told a joke about 9/11 - about the mechanics of it, coming at it from a weird angle or something, and in that case it just seems to trivialise the loss of lives there.”It’s his seventh year at the Fringe, and his third solo show here. “It’s an incredible opportunity to see people in very small performance spaces, it’s really intimate. I’ve mainly seen other acts on late night variety shows, but I’ve really liked Jamie Kielstein this year.”Over his career he’s seen the big names move on and change, “People who were the best when I was here doing sketch shows as a student have moved on a bit. It’s hard to put into words really. When you see a 50-year-old stand-up there is a distinct stylistic difference from a 25-year-old stand-up. The people who were at the top of the bill at the Comedy Store in London seven years ago are still on there, but the ranking order has changed.”So what does the future hold for Nick? “I had an idea the other day for my show next year actually, just as I was thinking, ‘Never again, I lose so much money every year at the Fringe!’ I reckon it will be about how I can’t help seeing both sides to every argument and how annoying that is in comedy; I can say something and then think ‘Well, the other side has a point too!’” Divided he may be, but Nick retains the ability to draw thought-provoking laughs from both sides of a crowd.
--Nick Doody – Tour Of Doody, Pleasance Courtyard, 30 Jul – 25 Aug (not 6, 13), 7.30pm (8.30pm), prices vary, fpp 81.
published: Aug-2008 for Three Weeks newspaper at the Edinburgh Festival