a chat with: JOE DAYMOND
Since his first standup gig in 2017, Joe Daymond has become a huge name in Aotearoa's comedy scene. Originally from Wainuiomata, Joe has gained fans not just for his standup but also his comedy online and on television. Last year, his social media videos went viral giving him an even bigger audience, and he’s gone on to sell out two standup shows at SkyCity Theatre. Joe is also widely acclaimed for balancing serious issues like racism and mental health within his comedy work. We caught up with Joe to talk about his rise in comedy, the various projects he has on at the moment and his experience on Celebrity Treasure Island.
Hey bro, how's it going?
Good bro. Appreciate you having me man, you know how much of a fan I am of your work. I feel like the one thing I’ll ever admit to being good at is knowing when someone is a generational talent, and that’s why I look in the mirror everyday. NAHH. That’s you brother. So for that its an honour to be here.
Can you remember the moment you decided you wanted a career in comedy?
Yeah man. Was going through a big transitional stage of my life. I was going through a rough patch with a lot of my closest mates from back home. I really wanted more in my life and we just weren’t on the same page so I realised I’ve gotta move on from there if I want something better for myself otherwise they’ll just keep me in this place of doubt within myself. At the same time I was working in property development and studying it at uni. Was planning on becoming a construction project manager and then enrolling into interior design school to then move more into that side of things. Was passionate about the disciplines but wasn’t feeling the industry. I remember going to a party that a real estate firm were putting on and no one would really pay me the time of day because I clearly wasn’t rich or important. Left it real fucked off and basically decided I was gonna go find something else because my boss was a dick too. He’d just say shit like call me a wannabe and ask me to clean his car and shit like that. So I went home. Made a list of all the things I wanted to try, stand up being one of them, and decided “fuck it, I’ll give it a go”. At that point I really felt like I had nothing to lose in my life as I hated the direction it was going so just did it and from the second I tried it I knew it was for me. If you’re stuck in life. Make a list. And just do all the shit on it. One of them will stick.
Why do you think you’ve come so far so quickly in your career?
Damn bro, it has not felt quick. But I always look back in hindsight and it really has been. I had a heap of life experience before it. I started my first company, a t shirt brand when I was 14. Printed 500 shirts in Thailand and sold like 3 of them hahaha. They legit sat in my attic for 10 years. Next I started a high school rugby blog when I was 15 and that got to 12k followers on Facebook when people weren’t really using Facebook for that kind of content. Then taught myself to code and started my own online magazine at 18 in my last year of school, and that turned into a marketing company. So I was just always trying shit from such a young age. There was never a point in my life where I wasn’t working on something because I was either upskilling and teaching myself shit, or I was using those skills practically and trying to build something. Because I tried and failed things over and over again and still continue to do so, I was able to lead my career and my life with a fearlessness that meant I wasn’t afraid to keep trying. You’ll never get to a point where you don’t care about failure or fear it, but you will get to the point where it doesn’t scare you and that’s just where I am. I genuinely don’t give a fuck if everything I’m doing fails tomorrow because I’ll take a break for a bit and start something new the day after.
Have you ever bombed on stage? Tell us about your worst show.
Yoooo. People don’t realise, 90% of stand up is bombing. You’re either trying new jokes or performing to new audiences. So I shit you not, you have way more bad shows than good shows. Its same as the previous though. You never want to bomb, but you get to the point in your career where it has no effect on you or what you’re trying to do, and I’m glad to be there.
All photos by Jared Tinetti / @jaredtinetti
As well as your standup, you also have a show for Comedy Central on the way, Bouncers. What’s it about and where did the idea come from?
So Bouncers is about a trio of unruly bouncers from Auckland, and will be the first Melanesian-led production on a major international network which is crazy to think. There aren’t a lot of Fijians out there internationally in the comedy scene even though I’ve always thought we were the funniest in the islands. So to be creating that history feels surreal. I always said what The Rock is to Samoans, and Taika is to Maori, I want to be for Fijians.
The idea itself stemmed from a pilot I shot in 2018. That was about three guys, all in Auckland as well, and their stories as they tried to figure out their place in the world. One character was a rapper from West Auckland, another was a uni student from the shore, and the third was this bouncer from South Auckland named Iwin. I was a complete unknown at the time. I remember starting up a Facebook page just so I could post the clips and I was only about a year into stand up. I posted this 1 minute clip up of Iwin on Facebook and it got to 2k likes in one night which was crazy for me. 3 years later we spun that off into an entire series about him and here we are.
The internet is a huge part of any creative’s career nowadays and you’ve definitely utilised the power of social media. Was that a deliberate decision from the outset or did it just happen?
It is aye bro. You’ve used it so well man and I don’t think there’s a director that even comes close to doing it as well as you are in this part of the world. I’m sure you get Lyrical Lemonade comparisons constantly Con but that’s you bro.
For me it was 100% a deliberate decision. From the outset when I started comedy I always knew I was going to use it to leverage my position in the industry. I remember when I first started, stand up comedians would bitch about Jimi Jackson because he wasn’t technically a stand up comedian, but he was selling out these massive shows and doing bigger audiences than anyone in the scene. Even the people on TV. And here were these people that had been doing stand up for 5 years, some even 10, and they would struggle to sell 20 tickets to their family and friends. I would ask them why they wouldn’t try the social media route and a lot of them looked down on it because they saw stand up as the purest form. I always thought that was a load of shit.
So anyway I saw what Jimi was doing and knew I wanted to be the best of both worlds. I wanted to start developing myself as a stand up, but I also wanted to put the time into social media so that by the time I was feeling confident about where I was at in stand up, I had an audience to leverage straight away. I’m still shit at stand up. But I’m about 4 and a half, nearly 5 years in and I’m happy with where I’m growing towards.
Speaking of social media, you’ve got an Instagram account dedicated to interior design, The Boys Are Decorating. Is interior decorating a backup career?
Yeah bro no shit it is. Just something I enjoy doing and as a straight, brown, young dude, I guess I break all the tropes of the kind of person people assume to be into that kind of stuff. A lot of guys don’t pay any attention that kind of shit or they’re embarrassed to admit that they have an interest. So for me its just a place to try and break that stigma.
A lot of Kiwi blokes are really scared to express themselves in any way. We all do a good job of giving each other so much shit that we get scared to do that. The Boys Are Decorating is one way I’m wanting to break that. By getting breathers to start expressing themselves in their own space, where its just them. They may one day get to a point where they don’t have that fear of expressing themselves out in the open.
That's awesome dude, love to see it! You were recently on TVNZ’s Celebrity Treasure Island – how did you find the experience of being on reality TV?
It was mad. I don’t blame people for hearing the name of the show and rolling their eyes. Shit I talked shit about the show on the show. But it truly was a massive privilege to be there man. Heaps of people always go off about how none of us are celebrities. Now I reckon people’s idea of a celebrity is completely subjective and entirely up to them to decide. But what they can’t take away is what a lot of the people there have achieved. We had Olympians, All Blacks, TV stars, fuckin Miss Universe NZ. Bro you can’t take those achievements away from those people. So to be right there beside them meant the entire experience for me was really surreal and super emotional as a testament to where I’ve gotten to, from where I’ve come from and what I’ve been through. Was dope bro. Got paid heaps too.
You’ve talked about race and some other big issues in your comedy. Why do you think comedy is so often used as a platform for serious topics?
I like voicing my opinion but my opinion is often how stupid things are. Comedy for me ahs always been a vehicle I use to explain my actual opinion. What I mean by that is by finding things funny in situations, I get to build an idea of how I truly feel about a situation.
I also just hate taking life too seriously. Anyone that knows me knows I’m not a super jokey dude, in that I’m not always making jokes and trying to be crack up, but I’m never ever serious haha. If that makes sense at all.
Earlier this year you became the youngest comedian to sell out shows at SkyCity Theatre. What’s the next record you’d like to break?
Next record is I want to be the first Kiwi writer/director of an A24 movie. If you don’t know them they’re a movie distribution company and film studio. They did Minari, The Farewell, The Lighthouse and also produced TV shows like Euphoria if you’ve heard of any of those.
I love film and its my dream to be doing that for the rest of my life. Has been since I was a little kid. A24 are encompassing everything great about cinema and especially cinema for our generation. They tell authentic stories and they’re just pushing boundaries in just about every aspect of entertainment. I wanna be the first Kiwi one there. Or the youngest. Or both.
Yoooo count me in on that A24 deal hahaha, so fire bro. Finally, what’s your favourite THATS A FKN WRAP moment?
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