Interview composed by Stu Hood - October 2004
Hey Nick.. I hear you're a funny guy.. Say something funny.
How long have you been doing stand-up for, and what led you to develop your style?
Dag, I feel like I'm at an acquaintance's party being talked to by somebody practically begging me to disappoint them , yet in reality I'm merely on the internet doing just that. And by 'reality', I more so mean 'virtual reality'. I hate having to say things that are funny, because 'funny' is such a subjective idea. For instance, I could say 'I wiped my ass with SHZine the other day and I got shit all over my internet's binary because of wiping--will this affect the computer's resellability', and some(actually none) may find that laugh-worthy, while others might enjoy more the funniness of some kind of topical political joke like 'Clinton broke America's hymen of innocence with an illegal Cuban cigar, and it's been a non-consensual all-orifice gang bang by dumbocraps, Ralph Nerder and repugs ever since, no condom(or inhibitions).' Others might appreciate a more punny approach, such as 'Anti-Semitism Israel'. And still others might prefer to the point repartee that could perhaps be a little bit slightly similar to the line 'Whatever happened to acid rain? Did the hippies and ravers drink it all so they could get high? If so, that ragtag bag of drooling misfits who listen to the incredible string band may have just saved the world, even though I don't respect them.' I just said something funny while writing all that down, but it was a sound effect that I don't know how to spell.
How do you usually come up with your material?
I first started doing standup(with what I think is the standard keyword-laden comedy cheat sheet) at an acoustic jam night at a place called The Old York Tavern in Toronto just under four years ago. I don't think any of the jokes were dirty. Many were dumb, but few were dirty. This soon changed, as I realized that saying 'my dick smells' to a crowd is the world's funniest and most beloved thing to do. Playing a bunch of shows and always having to come up with new jokes is what led me to develop my style, but I always have tried to be absurd and surprising. Getting the chance to do things completely on my terms thanks to playing a lot more rock venues than comedy venues allowed me to get my own style, as did playing shows outside of Toronto and for longer periods of time. But I still feel like I'm developing this pretty hard thing to develop known as style..
How much hassle do you get from people for reading jokes off a notebook on stage?
I just think of funny comments about things I know about, like my body or the fact that America has a president, and then write them down and sometimes build on them. Essentially, I come up with my material via knowing about things, and not being illiterate, literally. Be able to have those two qualities, and perhaps you too can help fuck up and clutter the comedy scene with confusing bullshit.
I've heard the audio recordings on your website and the majority of audience reactions seem awkwardly uneasy. What keeps you going?
Not a lot. More at the beginning. Some people really like it, others don't. The illiterate are uber-jealous. It basically makes me a prop comedian. But that's nothing to be ashamed of. And yet I remain ashamed.
I personally enjoy your act when there are LESS people who laugh. Do you prefer a supportive audience or one that doesn't know what to expect from you?
Well, at the moment, the most recent audio on the site is from early 2003(most of it from even earlier than that), and I definitely love the way the audiences at these shoddy open mics are so unreceptive to most gags. But I wouldn't be able to keep going if all the response I got was negative. What keeps me going is people saying they liked the jokes and laughing at them. Of course, the awkward responses and hate from majorities in crowds makes me feel like an underdog, which builds my self-esteem. Hate and awkward responses-- where would I be without those two delightfully essential ingredients in the recipe that creates my laugh soufflé? Hopefully not France.
A lot of your material is degrading and offensive on a shocking level to most people. Do you think those who laugh during your set are agreeing with your statements or more just laughing at the fact that you have enough balls to tell the jokes that you do?
I'm glad you enjoy it when less people laugh, and there's something to be said for that(that something is:'thanks for liking people hating me' ), but the truth is that I like to make laughs. I guess I'm always(never) having fun up there, so it's no big deal when people don't like it, but I'm a lot happier when all the jokes and stuff result in laffs for all. It's hard to feel like you're pleasing anybody when they don't make a sound or are making negative sounds.
Are there any current or past comedic performers that you like to rip off, i mean, are inspired by?
It's probably the latter. I try to be as absurdly disgusting as I can be, with some truth laced in, but in general I'm saying things that I patently disagree with. If I make a statement like 'this is a funny bunch of jokes', hopefully they are laughing because they are in agreeancy.
What do you do when you're not playing a comedian in real life?
Dangerfield, Dangerfield, Dangerfield. Also, Alan King. Next year I will rip off and be inspired by those who died within it.
Do you plan to take any of your ideas to a big TV network and star in a sitcom like all the great comedians do? If so, what would it be about?
I freelance write, mostly funnily and about music stuff. Hire me! Also, I 'sing' in a band called Brutal Knights.
You host and perform at an event around Toronto known as L'Afterparty. How long has this been going on and how often does it happen?
If I had a sitcom, it would be a combination of the worst aspects of Dream On and Mind of A Married Guy, meaning all aspects of said programs. Obviously it would be like two shows in one. That's pretty special. The name of sitcom would be 'Developments', because it would be the story of a developer to the stars who is being followed for a reality TV show on the internet. I play the internet.
Listen to some of Nick Flanagan's material on his website at homepage.mac.com/version
L'Afterparty has been enduring since July 2003. It was created in order to pay for me touring, which costs money more so than it makes money. I raised the appropriate funds and it went great. I just MC and do a long and loose set near the end, and in between comedians and musicians I like go onstage and entertain. They're roughly bi-monthly, and the next one will in December at the Silver Dollar. Hiyoooo!