ED2022 Comedy ED2022 Interviews

James Nokise: God Damn Fancy Man

By | Published on Sunday 14 August 2022

It’s not James Nokise’s first time at the Fringe, so it’s possible you’re already well aware of this award-winning comedian from New Zealand, who – as well as entertaining crowds with his stand-up – is also a writer, playwright and highly acclaimed podcaster. 

His show ‘God Damn Fancy Man’ promises much in the way of entertaining tales from a somewhat unconventional background. I arranged a quick chat to find out more about both James and his show. 

CM: Can you start by telling us about your show ‘God Damn Fancy Man’? Does it have specific themes? What can we expect from it?
JN: I guess the themes are sort of being overwhelmed and how grand gestures can end up looking ridiculous, but tiny changes can make a real difference…

CM: What made you want to focus on these themes?
JN: I was sort of deconstructing a strange period of my life, and I’d found that by being open about my experiences, people were finding they could be more open about theirs.

CM: How do you go about putting together an hour show like this? What does the creative process involve?
JN: Repetition. The stories can get a bit dark, but also unrealistic. They’re all true – and you as the storyteller know they’re all true – but you’ve got to find what bits the audience will go with and where they’ll need some help.

CM: This isn’t your first time at the Festival is it? What makes you keep coming back?
JN: To be clear I like coming back to Scotland more than the UK. Scotland is a colony. When I talk to them, I can talk as a colonial. There’s a real comfort in discussing that experience on the other side of the world. You feel less alone.

CM: What’s the best thing about being in Edinburgh for the Fringe – and the worst thing?
JN: The best thing is the camaraderie of artists from all over the world. And the worst thing is inevitably stumbling upon a drunk punter taking a shit behind a dumpster.

CM: What’s your best Fringe memory?
JN: I got married here on the day off. Small quiet ceremony. A few guests.

CM: What do you do in Edinburgh when you’re not performing?
JN: Explore the cafes. Wellington, where I grew up, is a coffee city, and I’ve always loved finding new small cafes to go and chill in.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about how you got into comedy? What made you want to be an entertainer?
JN: I wasn’t enjoying law studies. I fell in with the wrong crowd at uni and they just happened to run gigs. Terrible financial decision.  

CM: You don’t just do comedy though, do you? Can you tell us about the other strings to your bow?
JN: I’m a columnist in NZ, and a podcaster who sort of does mental health work and  journalism. I sort of fell into it… but then, as I said, I sort of fell into comedy as well.

CM: What would you say have been the highlights of your career thus far?
JN: I’ve picked up a few awards along the way, but I always find that stuff silly. Comedy styles are so different, and the only comedians I’ve ever met who talk about themselves as “the best” are assholes.

For me it’s the travel. Going to a new city, meeting new people, new cultures, finding new stories. Though, there’s so many less stressful ways to earn money.

CM: What aims or ambitions do you have for the future?
JN: I bought an old show to Edinburgh this year, because I really just wanted to see people I hadn’t seen in three years. Next year I’d like to bring a couple of shows themed around decolonisation.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
JN: I have a new podcast series looking at world rugby and the Pacific nations that comes out in November. Needs a couple of interviews from this side of the world… so probably off to Ireland next.

James Nokise performed ‘God Damn Fancy Man’ at Laughing Horse @ City Cafe at Edinburgh Festival 2022.

LINKS: twitter.com/JamesNokise 

Photo: Matt Grace