“Stand-up comedy and comedy in general is the ultimate form of free speech, because you get to poke holes in all the pretentious bubbles, politicians, popes and pretenders that try to float over our heads”….Denis Leary
Never aspiring to become a comedian while growing up, humorist Paul Nardizzi has already become one of the most popular comics in the Boston area and is quickly rising to win the hearts or at least the smiles of the nation. He began his career in 1990 and has become a favorite national headliner. He is winner of the 2001 Boston Comedy Festival and recipient of the HBO US Comedy and Arts Festival.
Paul has been seen numerous times on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central, NESN, and Comedy All-Stars. He is one of the most requested guests on XM satellite radio. He is currently in the mitts of working on a new comedy series called “conTEMPt”, but in the meantime he can be seen performing in clubs in the New England area and at times in NYC.
I had a conversation with Paul regarding his influences, inspirations and comedy secrets…..
What happens if you go out on stage and no one laughs?
They always laugh. When I try new stuff, sometimes I’ll throw one in between which is maybe not my best joke, but that’s how I test it, amongst jokes that work. But you kind of just go fast and most don’t even notice it if it doesn’t get a laugh. I guess when you start out you might bomb, because you don’t have that network of jokes, but I’ve been doing it since 1990 so I have enough jokes that they’re going to laugh.
What made you decide that you were funny?
I think I would sit back in class and I was shy, but occasionally I would throw one out there and they would laugh. So, I thought I had something, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be a comedian. I think a lot of kids grow up wanting to do it, but I was not like that. I just kind of migrated to it. I saw Dennis Miller do an HBO special and a lightbulb went off in my head. He really impressed me with his writing and one thing led to another. I started off with open mics, I had a lot to drink and I did well. Then I continued to drink and perform.
You are in the midst of a cool project tell me a little about that?
It’s about a comedian like myself, so I kind of jumped into the role. The Comedian is struggling with being torn between going back to stand up, which kind of led to why I split up with my wife and don’t see my kids as much or do I try to get my life together. He does temp work doing all these random jobs and he’s funny at those jobs. He just can’t help himself. He’s always joking and getting himself in trouble. So, you can see that he’s still on all the time, but he’s kind of in between right now. It’s called “conTEMPt”, and the TEMP is capitalized because that’s a big part of the show with all these horrible jobs he’s in an out of as a temp worker.
Aside from you who else is involved?
Matt McArthur, who opens for me sometimes, Tim McDonough, and Jason Margaca who came up with the idea, and wanted to use me as the Boston comedian, with my accent, and my negativities.
If you could perform with anybody, who would you choose?
You would have to dig him up but George Carlin. I like as I said Dennis Miller, who is amazing, especially in his Mr. Miller goes to Washington, I actually memorized the whole thing. I was living down the Cape and I was actually doing it on the beach and getting laughs on someone else’s material. That’s sort of where it started, and I still like Dennis Miller, but I have three of George’s books right next to my bed and I read them all the time. He has a brilliant mind, and a brilliant way of using words.
Do you work as a comedian full-time? No temp jobs?
Yeah. No temp jobs, thankfully no.
Who writes your comedy?
I write it all, but my kids supply a lot of the ideas with their nonsense. So, in essence, they’re indirectly writing it I guess. I do this joke about my son at the airport. My wife went to go get them and it took her three hours for him to find him. She told me this recently, and I had never heard that story when she finally found him he was at the departure sign at Logan’s instead of arrivals. So, I fabricated the bit where I was picking him up and when I found him, I asked him what he was doing there, and he pointed to the sign departing, because he was departing the airport, which is how they think. This generation is very literal. I made up the bit, but deep down I wonder if that’s what he was thinking. Everyone else went to arrivals, and he was the only one at departures. He was clueless. So, a lot of my inspiration comes from them and they’re video games all day. There is a source of humor there.
What’s your best video game joke?
My son plays Call of Duty until he actually thinks he’s been to war. So, I was watching and it was one night and they were talking about Iraq. He throws in and says “they don’t even know what it’s like over there.”
Where do you hope to be in five years?
I’d like to get on Netflix.
I don’t think they pay that much.
Honestly, I’m willing to pay them.
In normal everyday life does your family think that you are funny?
The first time we spoke, you thought I wasn’t funny, and that Jason was more outgoing than me. That’s actually how I am. I have my moments at the dinner table or at a family thing, but mostly I’m more towards the serious side. But I’m thinking all the time.
What do you think of the Impractical Jokers?
My sons turned me onto them. My wife thinks I’m an idiot sitting there laughing at those guys. She just doesn’t get it. I’ve always loved pranks. The Jerky Boys, I have all the CDs. They are great. David Spade had a show for about a season where he would do some elaborate prank on somebody…. when the impractical guys came along, it was right up my alley. I love when they mess with the public. I love that show and I don’t think I’ve missed an episode.
So, is there anything else that you’d like to mention?
I suppose we could mention that I did Conan 3 times just to give it a little gloss if that helps. Conan came up to look at people in 1997 and I had a good set. He reached out to me a few days later and sent me a list of clubs to go down and perform in New York. They wanted to watch me in front of a New York crowd. I ended up going on and then he had me back a year or two later and then they allowed me to sit with Conan and do more jokes. And that was kind of an honor because usually they just give you five and get you out of there, but I was able to stay and do more stuff and I was on a third time so it was great. It was definitely a highlight.
The official website for Paul Nardizzi may be found at https://www.paulnardizzi.com
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Photo Credits: Paul Nardizzi