So you wanna be a comedian? This is what you’re in for.

Back when Daniel Brader was a 20-year-old larrikin at the University

of Otago he jumped on stage to tell a few jokes on a Stand Up Comedy show — making his debut alongside more experienced comics like Simon McKinney and Josh Thomson.

He busted out some more jokes to audiences the next year and then moved to Wellington and focused on his studies. After University he started writing radio advertisements for stations in Queenstown and then Taupo.

Brader then leapt the ditch, writing radio copy in Western Australia before making stand up a priority when he moved to Melbourne. Today the Christchurch-based comic is a regular at Otautahi comedy shows as well as running his own gigs under the Blowout Comedy moniker. He takes his tall tales all over the country, as well as running a monthly show at Wunderbar in Lyttleton that’s developed a following after four packed-out shows. Brader is one of the harder-working comedians in New Zealand, having toured the country four times on solo tours as well as countless Blowout Comedy group shows from Auckland to Invers and inbetween.

Brader’s brand is brutally scathing gags and raw, confessional, eyebrow-raising storytelling. The scathing stuff is often in response to annoying shit on the 6 o’clock news which he argues with his National voting Baby Boomer Dad, who’s retired now in Wanaka after a successful career in the meat industry. The confessional stuff has plenty of dicks ‘n balls ‘n vaginas from Brader’s wild life. At the time of talking to In The Dogbox, Brader was preparing for a show in Queenstown.

He’s a busy man – in one week in January for example, Brader performed in Christchurch, Lyttelton, Timaru and Timaru (yep – two different gigs in Timmaz). Over the past few years, Brader’s been hosting ‘My No Good Stinkin Loser Podcast,’ ‘The Snobcast’, with Christchurch comic Simon Kingsley-Holmes, writing comic book scripts and – among other columns – once wrote a column about foot fetishes in movies.  Before we once again lose him to Melbourne Fringe, and other festivals in Australia and beyond, Brader took time to tell In The Dogbox what life behind the limelight is really like…

Dogbox: You’ve done four solo comedy tours of the country. How come you’re giving your time and presence to Invercargill and Oamaru and Palmerston North? Are they overlooked? Should more comedians travel?

Brader: My going there is just born out of necessity because they’re close to Christchurch but also because they’re still relatively untapped markets. I think all comics should do all the cities and towns in NZ if they can.

There’s still a bit of bubble mentality in the Kiwi scene. People seem afraid to go outside of their own scenes, but to me it seems you’re not a real comedian until you travel a lot, you’re just a hobbyist. It’s easy to get comfortable in certain rooms with a certain crowd. A real comic can make people laugh in a variety of locations without their little cheering squad of mates in the audience.

Dogbox: So how busy are you? On your social media, it seems like you’re gigging heaps.

Brader: If I were in say Melbourne, London or even Auckland I’d be much busier. I mean, there’s stuff happening every night of the week, but being based in the South island, you have to manufacture opportunities to travel, because if I just did the gigs here in Christchurch, I might be doing on average only one or two gigs a week.

Dogbox: Break down how the money might work for a typical travelling comedian. What does good money look like?

Brader: Your potential to make the most money is a solo show. Because you’re not paying anybody except yourself. Even if I get an opening act it’ll usually be a newbie and I will just give them some petrol money and

buy them some drinks. If we do really well on the door I’ll throw them some extra too. In 2019 before all the pandemic stuff making things much harder, I did a solo show in Wellington and had 85 people and I charged I think $20 a ticket. So at that time I made some decent money. But obviously that’s not every night. I’d

say I average around 25-30 people a show and of course you have travel and accommodation expenses and so forth. I still do other work on the side as surviving solo on money earned from touring NZ as a little indie comic that’s not on TV is pretty tough. But I love it and I feel my audience is slowly growing.

Dogbox: Money’s tight, huh. Didn’t you once sleep in some guy’s cupboard in Dunedin when you were on tour?

Brader: Yeah, the guy was an alcoholic and he gave me a towel as a blanket and I used my backpack as a pillow! If you really want to pile on the tragedy, the roof was leaking too.

Dogbox: Have you seen fellow comedians sell out?

Brader: Sure, I wouldn’t want to name names. But plenty of times someone’s come onto the scene with an untamed unique energy and then, before you know it, they’ve lost weight, they’re selling heat pumps and working for Vodafone and shit. If you’re a comic you probably know who I’m talking about, and I still think that person is very funny, but it’s a shame they’ve sanded off a lot of their edges. But I don’t live so much in a culture of “selling out” being a bad thing any more. That was more around the 90s when that was scene is a really dick move. It’s not really frowned upon now.

Dogbox: Have you ever had to compromise and be less independent to make money?

Brader: I got asked to host a Rotary Club gig in Queenstown, this auction thing with Sir Edmund Hillary’s son Peter speaking, he was the feature. I introduced him saying “Peter’s father’s face is on the five dollar note; meanwhile I begged my father to loan me five dollars tonight!”

Dogbox: What have you had to sacrifice to be dedicated to comedy?

Brader: Probably having a fixed address. I’ve realised you’ve got to be pretty nomadic, so I’ve relied on staying at friends’ places for extended periods of time, and my parents’ place on occasions. Also, even though I’ve had two serious relationships while doing comedy I’ve realised that’s difficult, so I try keep relationships pretty casual because it’s really hard finding someone who’s able to deal with the touring comedian lifestyle.

Dogbox: Is right now a good age to be doing comedy?

Brader: It’s a total fallacy that comedy is viable as a living for everyone. It’s only viable to a tiny percentage of comics. Comedy is full of people who lie and act like they’re making more money than they do. It’s very smokescreen, there’s a lot of keeping up appearances bullshit. I find this really stupid, too, because we all know the game yet comics still try and hoodwink one another. I would argue, though there might be more gigs, it’s attracted lots of people who kind of just lecture the crowd. They’re uptight and boring, both onstage and off. Conversely, that’s split things: the people who like looser fun comedy where you don’t care about being all woke and shit probably like it even more now because they can’t get it so easily as the game is dominated by little twenty-somethings telling you how the world should work . So my niche has become stronger, in a way – but it’s made it harder for me and my friends to do our thing. I should note I’m not some braindead edgelord but I’m still not fully woke.

Dogbox: What can we learn from the famous comedians who inspired you?

Brader: I’ve always been into the fringe underground voices like Doug Stanhope, Bill Hicks, Andy Andrist, James Inman, Nick Sun and people like that. Yes it’s all dudes and they’re all well over thirty. That’s what I grew up with and what got me into comedy. I always like it when the audience is tested and challenged and when comics are unafraid to bring up potentially divisive and difficult topics. To me there’s nothing that interesting in joking about iPhones and cats and shit. Sure you can make anything funny, but I like button-pushing comedy. More recently I’ve been enjoying Tim Dillon who’s another brazen, loud and outspoken act that’s not afraid to take on tough subject matter.

Dogbox: What can a person do to get started in comedy?

Brader: We’ve got enough comedians. Only get involved if you think you’ve got something unique to offer. Just being able to make your mates laugh isn’t enough of a reason to get into comedy. Is your point of view truly interesting? Then, by all means, get involved and do as many gigs as you can and don’t be fussy about the  venues.

SEVEN KIWI COMEDIANS KILLING IT OVERSEAS

Heard of Al Pitcher? Nah, no one has, in New Zealand. In Sweden, he’s massive, though. Pitcher moved to Sverige, as they call it, in 2010, began winning standup awards in 2011, and is now “absolutely killing it” in Stockholm.

Javier Jarquin is a former Court Theatre ‘Court Jester’ from Christchurch. Jarquin battled through the London comedy scene from 2010 and thrives today on the well paid UK standup circuit, travelling as far as Croatia, Turkey and Hong Kong for gigs – which include ‘Card Ninja’ tricks.

Melanie Bracewell, who’s been selling out shows in Melbourne over the past three years, has broken through into Australia, hosting The Cheap Seats which takes a comic look back at the week’s major and not-so-major news stories

Sam Wills – who’s now known as Tape Face, and used to be The Boy With Tape On His Face – also began as a Christchurch entertainer. He left NZ for Melbourne in 2008, got to the finals of America’s Got Talent in 2016, and now performs almost nightly in Las Vegas.

Sully O’Sullivan makes a living on the (financially rewarding) UK Pro circuit. He’s been declared a highlight of the ‘Glasgow International Comedy Festival’ by The Scotsman, a highlight of the ‘Manchester Comedy Festival’ by The Manchester Evening News, featured on Australian TV’s ‘The Comedy Channel’, won ‘Improvaganza’ tournament in Canada and performed at Download, the UK’s biggest rock festival, every year for over a decade.

Matt Stellingwerf won four NZ Comedy Guild Award and now resides in the UK and is creating the very same reputation for UK audiences as he has done in his native NZ.

Benjamin Crellin is a professional on the UK circuit too, and made it to the world-famous Just For Laughs festival in Montreal.

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