CUBA — How does politically conservative New York City comedian Nick Di Paolo react when people call him racist or sexist?
“I wear it like a badge of honor,” he said in an interview with the Olean Times Herald, “because it’s all they have — they have no ideas. That’s just name calling. … If I’m called racist, I’ve won the argument.”
“And then I’ll say something really filthy to them,” he added with a laugh.
It’s that irreverence that audiences can expect Friday night at Cuba’s Palmer Opera House from Di Paolo as he heads into his second weekend of the “Nick is Right” comedy tour.
With decades of comedy club work under his belt, the 56-year-old Massachusetts native is known for his right-wing sensibilities and brash, rapid-fire delivery. His stylings have landed him on “The Tonight Show,” “Late Night with David Letterman,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Conan” and multiple Comedy Central Roasts, as well as “Inside Amy Schumer,” “The Chris Rock Show” and the shows of Louis CK — ”Lucky Louie,” “Louie” and “Horace and Pete.”
And the heat of the current political climate has far from made Di Paolo break a sweat. He’s unafraid of his opinions possibly losing him work in “ultra liberal” Hollywood. He’s unaffected by the few times audience members have walked out of his performances.
“That happens to a lot of comics today since we’re in a hypersensitive time,” he said. “I just call it like I see it and people on the left seem to not be able to handle it sometimes.”
The tour itself was partly inspired by the politically-charged culture, with Di Paolo saying organizers purposefully picked towns and counties where President Donald Trump did well during the 2016 election. While many stops will be in small towns like Cuba, Di Paolo said he will certainly not be toning down his set for audiences.
“If you adjust to the town you’re in or the venue, what happens is you make adjustments everywhere and then you’re not you anymore,” he said. “You’ve got to stay true to yourself. If they don’t like it, fine, but they always do like it if the jokes are smart.”
Di Paolo has pushed against being labeled a far right comic, or as he put it — “I’m not the right-wing Bill Mahr by any means.” But he is a firm supporter of Trump, who he called “the right guy for the right time.”
“He kind of comes across as a used car salesman a lot of the time, but that’s what he is. But he makes things happen — he’s a CEO, you can’t argue with his success,” Di Paolo said.
The feelings of chaos evoked by the White House should be blamed on the national media for covering Trump as though he were a “conventional” president, Di Paolo asserted. He also blames the media for Trump’s high disapproval rating, which at 53 percent is actually at its lowest in more than a year, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.
“I think he’s doing great — black and brown unemployment is at record lows, ISIS is on their heels and he’s doing all this with a headwind in his face,” Di Paolo said, referring to special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia possibly coordinating with Trump’s presidential campaign.
Besides Trump, Di Paolo’s comedy set will involve former first lady Hillary Clinton “and how much I hate her,” as well as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. He said his Sanders impression was pretty simple to come up with.
“It’s kind of a, ‘Uh, uh, you kids get off my LAWN,’” he said, with a grumbling stutter and easy Brooklyn-Jewish accent. He added it’s a very visual impersonation, as Sanders “always points and waves his finger like he’s writing an imaginary letter to Santa Claus.”
While the comedian will share his politics Friday, he asserted his show is a broader mix of autobiographical, political and cultural topics.
One of those cultural movements is #MeToo, which Di Paolo saw up close when Louis CK — whom Di Paolo credits for boosting his career — was publicly accused by five women of sexual misconduct in a November article by the New York Times. CK apologized for his conduct the day after the story broke, and multiple projects of his were immediately shelved.
Di Paolo maintains that if CK “did that to my sister or somebody I knew, I’d punch him in the face,” but opposes comparing CK to Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused by more than 50 women of acts ranging from harassment to sexual assault to rape.
“(Louis) has been remorseful and it’s this #MeToo thing — I think they went too far too fast. They’re ruining people’s lives and they’re throwing everybody into one pot,” Di Paolo said.
Since the incident, Di Paolo said he has talked to CK a couple of times about how each other’s lives are going.
“I think he’s going to end up landing on his feet because he’s so smart,” Di Paolo said. “He could go tomorrow and sell out Madison Square Garden if he wanted to. Because when you’re a comic, people want to hear your point of view of what happened.”
While topics like the #MeToo movement make it into Di Paolo’s set, he said he can’t get too topical.
“There’s a little lag because it takes a while for jokes to work … when you’re a stand-up comic, that story is old in a week or two, you know? Unless it’s #MeToo, something that big that’s staying with us. But if I talk about (former Secretary of State Rex) Tillerson being fired or whatever, that joke will be stale a week later so it leaves a hole in your set.”
Di Paolo is much more topical on his SiriusXM radio show, channel 103, which he hosts in New York City. The show airs from 8 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and gets turned into the weekly Nick Di Paolo Podcast. The podcast is available through most podcast streaming apps, including Google Play and iTunes.
Di Paolo said the tour was inspired by his interactions with callers on his show.
“I love that I have a radio show — I can say anything I want,” he said. “That was my goal a few years ago, to do that and couple it with stand up and use the radio show to get people out to see me. That’s my idea now of a perfect career at this stage.”
Friday’s show will be held from 8 to 9:30 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the event. Tickets can be purchased through www.nickdip.com under the Tour tab, or by calling the Palmer Opera House at (585) 209-5512.
(Contact City Editor Danielle Gamble at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHGamble)