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 Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Events Calendar

  • Hilton Head Freedom 5K Race

    May 25, 2020
    8:00 AM @ Port Royal Plantation

    PALMETTO RUNNING COMPANY PRESENTS THE 6TH ANNUAL HILTON HEAD MEMORIAL DAY 5K RUN & WALK WILL BE HELD ON MONDAY, MAY 25TH 2020 AT THE BEAUTIFUL...

  • Live Music at Congress Street Up Speakeasy Every Thursday

    May 14, 2020
    9:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Congress Street Up Speakeasy

    Every Thursday evening, we have live music in the speakeasy featuring a rotating cast of local legends. Music starts at 9!

  • 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,...

  • Tybee Island Sprint Triathlon/5K

    May 31, 2020
    8:00 AM @ Tybee Island Visitor Center

    The Trybee Island Sprint Triathlon is a 750 yard ocean swim, 20k bike ride, and 5K run that takes place starting on beautiful Tybee Island, GA....

  • TEDxSavannah: Standard Deviation

    Jun 05, 2020
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Yamacraw Center for the Performing Arts

    Guided by a mission to share ideas worth spreading, TEDxSavannah welcomes the public to enjoy live speaker presentations from area residents and...

  • Beach Bum Triathlon /Duathlon

    Jun 13, 2020
    7:00 AM @ Coligny Beach Park

    The BEACH BUM TRIATHLON & DUATHLON Series rolls into 2020 with a lot of heat, salty water, and sand. This year's races promise lots more...

  • Mindful Triathlon

    Jun 14, 2020
    8:00 AM @ Coligny Beach Park

    Jiva Yoga Center and the Hilton Head Running Company are teaming up to produce the Mindful Triathlon - Hilton Head Island. What...

  • JCB Mud Fest

    Jun 20, 2020
    8:00 AM

    This year’s race will be another 5 miles or 5 kilometers of mud and obstacles – each year you ask for bigger and better...

  • 4th of July Dinner & Fireworks Cruise

    Jul 04, 2020
    7:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Savannah Riverboat Cruises

    Celebrate our Nation’s Independence with Savannah Riverboat Cruises!  Join us on board for a - one of a kind - 3 hour celebration! Enjoy a...

  • 4th of July Fireworks Cruise

    Jul 04, 2020
    8:00 PM - 10:30 PM @ Savannah Riverboat Cruises

    Join in on the fun as we celebrate the 4th of July! During the 1 1/2 hour cruise, dance to the music of our Riverboat DJ spinning your favorite...

  • Walk with the Turtles: Ossabaw Island

    Jul 20, 2020
    8:00 AM - 2:00 AM @ Delegal Creek Marina Skidaway Island

    Depart 8:00 am from Delegal Creek Marina on Skidaway Island, just outside of Savannah. After a 30-minute boat ride across Ossabaw Sound, arrive on...

  • Charleston Beer Festival

    Sep 26, 2020
    1:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Riverfront Park North Charleston

    Thousands of beer enthusiasts and newbies alike will enjoy a day of craft beer, live music, and games, all to benefit a great cause. Charleston...

  • Charleston Beer Festival

    Sep 26, 2020
    1:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Riverfront Park

    Thousands of beer enthusiasts and newbies alike will enjoy a day of craft beer, live music, and games, all to benefit a great cause. Charleston...

  • Nine Line Run for Wounded 5K/10K

    Oct 03, 2020
    6:00 PM - 10:00 PM

    Join the Nine Line Foundation and Nine Line Apparel this Armed Forces Day, Oct 3, 2020, for our 7th Annual 5K/10K Run for...


Show More...

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Scenes of the South

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 5

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 4

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 2

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 3

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH-THE TRILOGY GALLERY 1

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

February Brews for a Cause

February's Brews for a Cause was held at the Drayton Hotel on Thursday, February 27th. South Magazine and Southern Eagle teamed up to raise money through a large silent auction for the Savannah Ambucs organization. Craft Beer samplings from Wild Leap Brewing, alongside appetizers from the Drayton Hotel were offered to guests.

2020 Southern Coast Heart Ball

The American Heart Association held its annual Southern Coast Heart Ball on Saturday, February 8th at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa. Guests enjoyed a cocktail reception with a silent auction, dinner and program, and dancing to end the evening. All proceeds went to the Open Your Heart campaign.

4th Annual Hearts for Healing Gala

Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center held its Fourth Annual Hearts for Healing Gala on Friday, February 7th at the Tybee Island Wedding Chapel. Guests enjoyed gourmet dining, dancing, and a silent auction. All proceeds from the auction benefitted the Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center's program for individuals with disabilities.

IDC Benefits the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire

The LeClerc Family owners of IDC (International Diamond Center) in Savannah 349 Mall Blvd held a benefit to support the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire on Thursday, February 6th from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. Guests enjoyed light food and drinks, while bidding on several silent auction items, including autographed footballs and helmets donated by Anthony Lanier II.

Royce Learning Center Annual Low Country Boil & Oyster Roast

The Royce Learning Center held their annual low country boil and oyster roast on Saturday, February 1st. Guests enjoyed mingling over the seafood selection. Royce Learning Center meets the needs of children and adults with learning differences and literacy needs through its unique programs.