At this point in his career, veteran stand-up Nick Di Paolo doesn’t pull any punches. He’s made a name for himself as one of the most honest comics around, so if he upsets someone looking for political correctness in his comedy, he doesn’t care.
“I’ll have a table of people get up and leave,” Di Paolo told Revue. “It’s usually college-age kids who believe in safe spaces and they get offended by my act. They’re coming from a whole different world. It’s not their fault they’ve been brainwashed to think that life is a thing you go through without feeling uncomfortable. I don’t know how the f*** that idea came about. Sometimes I find myself just saying shit just to annoy those people. This country was built on freedom of speech and that’s all we have left.”
Di Paolo, 54, started as a comic in the late ’80s stand-up boom. Early in his career, he was roommates with fellow comedian Louis C.K. after both relocated from Boston to New York.
“Those were the fun times when you look back on them,” Di Paolo said of coming up alongside C.K. in NYC’s comedy clubs. “It really is true — it’s the journey that’s so goddamn fun. I think [Louis] would agree even though he’s a multi-zillionaire now.”
Di Paolo and C.K. frequently work together, with Di Paolo having appeared in a recurring role on C.K.’s hit FX series Louie, where they famously sparred over their views on President Obama and bonded on the challenges of marriage.
“It’s weird to watch a close friend become THE guy,” Di Paolo said of C.K. “I mean he’s like the Woody Allen of my generation.”
Most recently the two worked together again on C.K.’s latest project, Horace and Pete, a dark comedy web-series about a multigenerational Brooklyn Irish bar co-starring Alan Alda, Steve Buscemi, Jessica Lange and Edie Falco.
“His imagination is frightening,” Di Paolo said of C.K. “He inspires me with how good of a comedian he is. He and guys like Bill Burr, Norm McDonald and Dave Attell — those guys inspire me when I watch them.”
|Comedian Nick Di Paolo
Dr. Grins Comedy Club, 20 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
April 21–23, 8 p.m., 9 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.
$10–$20, thebob.com/drgrinscomedy, (616) 356-2000
Throughout the years, Di Paolo has also appeared on some groundbreaking programs, like The Sopranos, and on The Chris Rock Show, where he received two Emmy nominations for his writing. Last year, he joined Amy Schumer on the critically-acclaimed “12 Angry Men” episode of her Comedy Central series Inside Amy Schumer, where he turned heads with his eviscerating performance.
His biting comedy bits made him a favorite on talk radio, having frequently guested on The Howard Stern Show, The Opie and Anthony Show (now the Opie with Jim Norton show).
Today, he hosts The Nick Di Paolo Podcast via RiotCast — it’s available on iTunes and through his website nickdip.com.
“I talk about topical stuff, politics, pop culture,” Di Paolo said. “But it’s just me. There’s no guests. It’s just me ranting and raving. People f*****g love it because I’m saying stuff that you can’t say on terrestrial radio, on TV, or anywhere without getting arrested. And that’s the point of a podcast. I’m almost waiting for someone to knock on my door and say, ‘You can’t say that.’”
Of course, his brand of raw, in-your-face comedy still feels most at home on the stand-up stage, and he remains best known for his live work, including his series of specials — like 2014’s Another Senseless Killing DVD. Another nesting spot for Di Paolo’s insolent barbs is on the Comedy Central Roast specials.
“I think that’s what’s happening on the Republican side,” Di Paolo said when asked if this year’s presidential primary season reminds him of the roasts. “That last debate — I thought I was going to see Jeff Ross standing next to Marco Rubio. That’s what Trump is turning it into. It’s just funny.”
Although he’s proudly right-wing in his personal views, Di Paolo doesn’t consider himself to be a political comedian. Just an honest one. Or, like his longtime friend and fellow funnyman Colin Quin has said, “He’s not a political comic, but he can tell a joke about McDonald’s and everyone will know how he voted.”
“If you come out, you’re not going to see the opposite of Bill Maher. I’m not going to do an hour of how much I hate Democrats or Liberals,” Di Paolo said. “[But] this Donald Trump phenomenon proves exactly what [I’m] talking about. People have had enough of the P.C. horseshit. There are two types of people in the world: Politically correct people and people who are honest. They’re mutually exclusive in my book. I like to be honest and luckily there’s still enough people to appreciate it.”