Unabashedly right-wing comedian Nick Di Paolo is returning to Riverhead on Saturday, November 28, for another evening of biting and politically incorrect standup.
While Di Paolo is not a political comic, per se, he often quotes his friend Colin Quinn, who told him, “You could be telling a joke about McDonald’s and everyone will know how you voted.”
His standup concerns personal stories, but also his observations about the state of the country.
“My act is always a combination of proven material and a lot of off-the-cuff,” Di Paolo says. “It’s a nice mixture. That, to me, is the best combination. You should be talking about some topical stuff in your act. I can’t stand if you stick your head in a comedy club and watch a comedian’s act and you don’t know if it’s 1988 or 2015.”
Evergreen material may work for some comedians commercially, but Di Paolo says “the greats,” like Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce, were talking about what was going on in the world.
“It’s not an intentional decision,” Di Paolo says. “It’s just who I am. You try to speak from the gut and it’s not always pretty. And sometimes it’s really funny and sometimes it’s not.”
His past jobs as a radio host and working on television have required him to keep on top of current events. Di Paolo was a writer for The Chris Rock Show in the late ‘90s and his next gig was as a regular panelist on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, the short-lived Comedy Central series that came on after The Daily Show.
“There has been no show before or after it where we spoke that frankly about race and religion,” Di Paolo says of Tough Crowd.
In recent years he’s made regular appearances on Fox News Channel’s 3 a.m. show Red Eye, which similarly invites comedians to discuss and satirize the news—but it doesn’t allow for the same level of frank discussion. “You’re fighting with one hand behind your back because you’re on a news channel. You can’t say stuff that’s really off-color on Fox News.”
Where he can really cut loose is on radio or his eponymous podcast.
“I really love the broadcast end of it,” he says. “I love radio and the podcast—I love being able to be funny without drunk people yelling s— out.”
He says it is a myth that alcohol makes a comedy audience better—in fact, the best gig he ever did was for 700 people from Alcoholics Anonymous in Boston. “They’re hanging on every word and they’re sharp,” he recalls. “Alcohol dulls your senses. When you do a joke, it’s like a riddle. People have to figure it out if it’s a clever joke. Alcohol does not help that at all.”
Earlier this year, Di Paolo co-starred in a much buzzed about episode of Inside Amy Schumer that parodied 12 Angry Men and helped propel the Comedy Central show to an Emmy win for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series. In the episode, he plays Juror #3 on a jury tasked with determining whether Amy Schumer is hot enough for basic cable television.
“For me to be able to work with Paul Giamatti and Jeff Goldblum and John Hawkes—that was the thrill of a lifetime,” he says of his fellow jurors. “That’s the best thing I ever did, acting wise.”
This month’s show will be Di Paolo’s third at Suffolk Theater. “I love that place. I couldn’t wait to get back there,” he says. “The crowds are always good… and they don’t get offended easily.” He encourages comedy fans to check him out. “Whether they agree with what I’m saying or not, they’ll laugh their ass off. I’ve been doing it a long time—it’s the only thing I know how to do in life, so I take it serious, and a venue like that brings the best out of me.”
Nick Di Paolo performs Saturday, November 28, at 8 p.m. at Suffolk Theater, 118 East Main Street, Riverhead. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for dinner and drinks. Tickets are $40. suffolktheater.com, 631-727-4343.