A Breath of Fresh Air



Published:

Sick of political correctness and being told you’re using the wrong pronoun for someone? Spend a few minutes with legendary stand-up and freshly minted Southerner Nick Di Paolo. You’re nowhere near as sick of it as he is.

Perched over a side table at Ordinary Pub, Nick Di Paolo pulls a cigarette out of his pack and nervously taps it on the side of the box. He can’t smoke it in there, but he remembers a time when you could. Not necessarily at Ordinary Pub – he and his wife Andrea only moved South a few months ago – but in smoke-hazed bars across the country where he honed his act as one of the most ruthless comics of his generation.

“I was just in Vegas where I could smoke. I smoked 10 cigarettes a show. I just started smoking and I love it,” he says, playing the cigarette across his fingers. This launches into one of his gut-busting stories, delivered with the cadence and timing of a battle-hardened comic, of trying desperately to find a place to smoke in Charlotte airport.

The story is told in a way that’s so undeniably Di Paolo we won’t bother to go into it here. But if you’ve seen his act live, or caught his latest special, “A Breath of Fresh Air,” free on his website, you’ll know that it was deeply funny in a way that sometimes has you asking yourself, “should I really be laughing at this?”

It’s a decidedly anti-PC style that crosses the line left and right, but mostly left. “In this business if you lean right on two of 50 issues, you’re a Nazi. It’s an ultra-liberal business,” he says. “I don’t know how anyone can be in this business and be a comic or any kind of artist and agree with what’s going on today.”

What’s going on today, according to Di Paolo, is a shift in the culture war that has seen the culture and counterculture slowly trade places. “We’re the counterculture, which is what comedy is supposed to be,” he says. “This country has the mentality of a 12-year-old fat girl with acne. Can you think of anything more sensitive? That’s the zeitgeist right now.”

Even going back to his time on the Comedy Central show, “Tough Crowd,” where Di Paolo traded barbs with comics like Colin Quinn, Jim Norton, Patrice O’Neal and the late Greg Giraldo, he was the right-leaning one. With the culture shifting around him, he leaned hard into his more conservative material and has found a huge and underserved audience for comedy that has had enough of the PC cancel culture. “There are sacred cows everywhere. I’m loving it.”

And that, in turn, brought him South. Away from the liberalism of New York City where you can get fined for using the wrong pronoun.

“That’s what I like about being down here. Guys are guys down here,” he says. “But you got enough lawyers down here? Jesus Christ. Every commercial is a guy saying, ‘Barry Saulman got me $50 million for slipping in a Kroger.’”

That, again, launches an extended riff on Savannah’s fixation with personal injury lawyers that has everyone at the table asking, “Should I really be laughing at this?” But it’s a moot point, because whether they should or not, they’re all rolling.

South: So how did you wind up in Georgia?

Nick Di Paolo: We just like Savannah. We came down here seven or eight years ago for a weekend because my wife loves it. She’s into that book, Garden of Good and Evil, whatever the hell it’s called. She has roots way back in Georgia. There’s only like two nice places in Georgia and this is one of them. No, I’m sure there are plenty of places, but it’s a nice town.

South: How much has comedy changed in recent years?

ND: The culture became the counterculture and vice versa. We’re the counterculture, which is what comedy is supposed to be. Being pro-status quo, pro-political correctness, pro-censorship seems to be the zeitgeist of the moment.

South: Are there any left-leaning comics you like?

ND: Al Franken – I loved him on Letterman. I wanna punch him in the face, but I found him funny because he was kind of mean. Anybody who was funny…George Carlin was a hippie liberal, but he was smart enough to know, “Hey this is wrong.” And his famous bit about seven words you can’t say on TV, I was going to do a new list of 100 words you can’t say anywhere.

I heard some comedian say a comedian should be like a basketball ref. That’s all well and good, but right now the democrats are committing flagrant fouls 40 a minute. And I’m calling them, and now you’re calling me biased.

South: You have a bit in your newest special about how much you’re fan of Trump. What are your thoughts on the impeachment talk right now ?(NOTE: At the time of the interview, the impeachment investigation had not yet officially started).

ND: I think it’s another witch hunt. I didn’t know they’d be so relentless, but I knew as soon as Trump was inaugurated that eventually they’ll try to impeach him. We have so many dumb people in this country that rely on the mainstream media and the internet, and don’t do their thinking for themselves. The polls don’t reflect how people think; they tell them how to think.

South: What’s your favorite Nick Di Paolo joke?

ND: There’s one that I found on a website that listed a bunch of famous quotes. I’m up there with Lincoln, Patton, Vince Lombardi…it’s a joke that I did on the 1992 Young Comedians Special about testing on animals. “If hooking a monkey’s brain up to a car battery is going to save somebody from dying of AIDS in 10 years, I got two things to say: the red is positive and the black is negative.” The prime minister of Australia used that joke. Don Cherry has used it. That’s the one that hit home.

South: It seems like everyone who knew him had a good Patrice O’Neal story. What’s yours?

Nick Di Paolo: We were going through customs this one time, it was me and Patrice and two other comics. They stopped us and we’re all sitting there waiting, and after about 15-20 minutes we’re like, “What’s the hold up?” The guy tells us “One of you has a felony,” and we all look at Patrice. And it was. He’d done something as a kid. I forget what. More about Nick at nickdip.com

Subscribe now to the print edition or get instant access to our interactive digital edition.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Greatest Professional Photographers 2020

Calling South’s Greatest Photographers! Are you a professional photographer with beautiful work? Enter South’s Greatest Photographers 2020!

Greatest Amateur Photographers 2020

Calling South’s Greatest Photographers! Are you passionate about capturing life through a lens? Enter South’s Greatest Photographers 2020!
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Events Calendar

  • “Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick” Exhibition

    Oct 11, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick examines the work of six contemporary artists—Corey Arnold, Guy Ben-Ner, Patty Chang, Tristin...

  • Blowing Rock WinterFest

    Jan 23, 2020
    10:00 AM - 9:00 PM @ Downtown Blowing Rock

    Don’t hibernate-celebrate! Join us for the fun side of winter with events like the Polar Bear Plunge, WinterFeast, WinterPaws Dog Show,...

  • Savannah Jewish Film Festival

    Jan 22, 2020
    6:00 PM - 6:00 PM @ Jewish Educational Alliance of Savannah

    This year’s festival has been capsulated into five days in which movie-goers are encouraged to attend the films, enjoy meals and interact in...

  • Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah

    Jan 23, 2020
    7:00 PM - 10:30 PM @ Trustees Theater

    Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah returns for its 11th annual film festival on January 23-25, 2020.  Please plan to join us for a weekend of...

  • Forsyth Farmer's Market

    Jun 29, 2019
    9:00 AM - 1:00 PM @ South end of Forsyth Park

    The Forsyth Farmers’ Market vendors offer a variety of local goods including seasonal produce, eggs, honey, pastured meat, bread, cheese,...

  • Beatles By Request

    Jan 25, 2020
    8:00 PM - 3:00 PM @ Savannah Theatre

    The Savannah Theatre cast and band recreate the timeless sound of the most influential band of the 20th century. Not an impersonation, but a...

  • Cocoa 5k Fun Run & Walk

    Feb 01, 2020
    8:00 AM - 11:00 AM @ Crystal Coast Civic Center

    Come be a part of the Cocoa Fun Run / Walk on February 1, 2020!  The 5K Race Course is flat and begins and ends at the Crystal Coast Civic Center,...

  • Carolina Chocolate Festival

    Feb 01, 2020
    9:00 AM - 6:00 PM @ Crystal Coast Civic Center

    Chocolate lovers indulge! The annual Carolina Chocolate Festival takes place at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City and is packed with...

  • First Fridays in Starland

    Jun 07, 2019
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Starland District

    First Fridays in Starland celebrates local business, art, and food in Savannah’s coolest neighborhood! Join us every First Friday of the...

  • AURA Fest: Underground Weekend

    Feb 21, 2020
    7:30 PM - 11:45 PM @ The Jinx

    AURA Fest: Underground Weekend at The Jinx February 22, 2020 Torche, Bask, Oakskin, SHEHEHE, Knightsquatch February 21, 2020 Inter Arma, CLOAK,...

  • Savannah Antiques & Architecture Weekend

    Mar 05, 2020
    6:00 PM - 6:00 PM @ Various Locations, Downtown Savannah, Georgia

    The Annual Savannah Antiques and Architecture Weekend is a three-day series of presentations, tours, appraisals, a glittering gala, and a cocktail...


Show More...

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Scenes of the South

Dining in the Dark 2020

The Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision held its annual Dining in the Dark event on Saturday, January 18th at the Embassy Suites Downtown Savannah. Guests were served a four-course meal in complete darkness by the Savannah Metro's SWAT team. Dining in the Dark serves to raise awareness about vision loss.

January Brews for a Cause

South magazine in collaboration with Southern Eagle Distributing hosted their monthly Brews for a Cause on Thursday, January 16th at the Savannah Taphouse in a successful effort to raise money and awareness for the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision. The night featured delicious appetizers by Savannah Taphouse and a range of flavored Bud Light Seltzers provided by Southern Eagle. These events provide good food, fun entertainment, refreshing drinks and most importantly – raise money for a great cause! Be sure to be on the lookout for our next Brews in February!

Ford Plantation's Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting for Silk Hope

The Ford Plantation celebrated the completion of its two new Silk Hope model homes on January 10, 2020. The Silk Hope project is limited to 53 homes, on beautiful lots of buyers’ choosing amongst old oaks and a Lowcountry marsh setting. This member-backed project is the first new for sale residential development at The Ford Plantation in more than fifteen years and represents the final phase of home development to be offered. The Silk Hope community is the product of a collaboration of some of the world’s top residential architects and landscape designers and has been modeled to capture tranquil European village and Lowcountry architecture.

Mat Best Signs his New Best-seller at Nine Line

Veteran, entrepreneur and author Mat Best met fans and signed copies of his new book “Thank you for my Service” Thursday Dec. 12 at Nine Line Apparel. Best’s best-selling authorial debut chronicles his service as a U.S. Army Ranger. Best's Black Rifle Coffee co., partnered with Nine Line Apparel, has shops on River st. and off route 95 on Ft. Argyle rd.

Victory Antiques and Engel & Völkers' Holiday Party

Dickey Mopper and his team at Engel and Völkers celebrated the season at their annual holiday party on Wednesday Dec. 11, with a special appearance from the jolly fellow himself, Santa Claus. Mopper and company, celebrating alongside the crew of Victory Antiques, showed off the newest Engel and Völkers office at 1650 East Victory Dr. in Savannah.

Good Times Jazz Bar & Restaurant's 2nd Anniversary Celebration feat. Lady Leah

Jazz lovers celebrated Good Times Jazz bar's second anniversary on Nov. 8 and 9 featuring jazz vocalist Lady Leah and the culinary stylings of Good Times' chef Joe Randall, the dean of southern cuisine. In 2017 Randall teamed with Danielle and Stephen T. Moore to create one of the city's smoothest spots, a confluence of culture and taste fit for the soul of Savannah.

14th Annual Pearls to Pluff Mud Fundraiser

The 14th Annual Pearls to Pluff Mud Fundraiser was held on Friday, November 1st at the Swamp Fox Farms. Guests enjoyed listening to the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra while tasting New Orleans themed dishes. There was a silent and live auction held to raise money for the Focus Fund Campaign for the Cross Schools in Bluffton, SC.

Brews for a Cause November at Savannah Octane Bar

South magazine in collaboration with Southern Eagle Distributing hosted the last Brews for a Cause of 2019 at the Savannah Octane Bar on Thursday, November 21 in a successful effort to raise money and awareness for Georgia Police K9 Foundation. The night featured tasty chicken appetizers catered by Himalayan Curry Kitchen, and special brews from Wicked Weed and Monday Night Brewing provided by Southern Eagle. These events provide good food, fun entertainment, refreshing drinks and most importantly – raise money for a great cause! Be sure to be on the lookout for our next Brews in January!

6th Annual First Responders Luncheon

Harris Lowry Manton LLC hosted its 6th Annual First Responder Appreciation Luncheon on Monday, Oct. 28 at Daffin Park. Free lunch was offered as a “thank you” to local paramedics, firefights, police officers and emergency medical responders.

DineSouth's VIP Icebox

DineSouth 2019 VIP room sponsored by IceBound was a hit at this year’s event! With a special performance by Ken Roy, guests enjoyed exclusive vendors such as sushi from Rue de Jean and popsicles from Savannah Square Pops. Made complete with a full-serve bar, the VIP room was chillingly spectacular!