Loose Canons: Rhys Nicholson
Loose Canons is a series in which we invite artists we love to share five things that have informed their work. Meet the rest of our Loose Canons here.
Sydney-based stand-up comedian Rhys Nicholson hit big last year with a nomination for Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s Barry Award, and this year he returns to the New Zealand International Comedy Festival with I’m Fine.
Rhys is a Sydney Comedy Store regular and headliner in clubs all over the Australia. His rapid-fire punch lines have become his comedy currency, and he has supported the likes of Louis CK, Amy Schumer, and Kathy Griffin. He’s taken shows to four Edinburgh Fringe Festivals and performed several seasons at London’s Soho Theatre to audience and critical praise. Rhys has also done plenty of TV too, including ABC TV’s Dirty Laundry Live and live spots on ABC2’s Comedy Next Gen & Comedy Up Late.
My dream career is probably the one Amy Sedaris is living. She would have to be one of the most distinctive and odd comedy people in the world, with a finger in a bazillion pies.
I love her because she usually plays these incredibly grotesque and broken characters, all the while making them totally legit and loveable. I can’t recommend enough her show she made with Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello in the late nineties, Strangers with Candy. Amy plays a 45 year-old ex-junkie who has to go back to school to so she can graduate and get her life back together. Its grimness of the highest order.
As well as that she’s also written a couple nuts books: I like you: Entertaining Under the influence and Simple Times: Craft for Poor People. Also go watch her amazing appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman. Just google her okay.
In 2004 when I was 14, I watched the Melbourne International Comedy Gala on TV and saw this woman called Maria and it was the funniest thing I had ever seen. I decided that I wanted to be a comedian and consumed as much Maria as I could (very difficult before Youtube – it was a different time).
Even though we do very different things onstage, she she still makes me laugh more than anyone or anything. Maria is dark, whimsical and talks about her problems in a way that you don’t feel sorry for her. I saw her in Montreal last year and fan-boyed out so hard I cried when she walked on stage. Yeah okay, maybe I’m a bit nuts alright?
If I wasn’t a stand-up comedian I could probably be a drag queen. And let's be honest, my act isn’t too far off it.
I have always admired drag. It’s extraordinary. The artistry and skill that goes into good drag is astounding. I don’t like gays bars very much, but if I'm at one, you'll find me sitting with a bunch of queens as I stare longingly at their outfits and makeup.
I realise how wanky this sounds, but I think drag is very powerful. In a way it’s the original punk; men denying standard genders and transforming themselves into these amazing new things. Oof I love it.
Okay I might be a little biased, because he is my fiancé, but he also directs my shows and just about everything else i do.
I can write jokes until the cows come home, but I am terrible at working alone when I come to the structure and shape of a show. For the past few years Kyran has helped me put together my tiny comedy concerts and from the moment he started to help, the shows started to work and get good reviews and attention. He has a remarkable brain for knowing how a joke works and how to fix it, and he created little themes and theatrical shit in the hour. I constantly feel equal parts adoration and resentment towards him.
When my shows start to get real shit, you’ll know he must have come to his senses and abandoned ship.
If I have too much white wine, I get argumentative and aggressive. However, just the right amount (one before the show and two during) and I am in the perfect mindset to do a show. Part of the reason I’m so excited to come to New Zealand is your delicious array of crushed grape drinks.
Rhys Nicholson – I’m Fine runs from Tuesday 2 May – Saturday 6 May in Auckland and plays on Sunday 7 May in Wellington.
Tickets available here