“I’ve told funny stories my whole life. There’s so many from the police and from nursing.”
Dave Nicholls has recently finished his festival show “Honest Bro…” with Dave McCartney and is now preparing for “Wash Your Mouth Out” with Tim Muller, Melanie Bracewell, and guest star James Mustapic on 8th May. Throughout his life, Dave has progressed through a series of careers that have provided him with the most hilarious stranger-than-fiction stories.
Dave’s wide range of interests and serious ambition to pursue them has led him to be a police officer, nurse, professional fighter, and comedian. He made his move into comedy three years ago after he retired from cage fighting. Incidentally, the training required from him as a Top 10 competitor in the Australasian MMA scene was too much to handle on top of nurse shift work.
“I always talked about “one day I’ll be a comedian, one day I’ll do comedy”, and so now I had the time. I’m always a big fan of I say I’ll do something and I’ll do it.”
Dave’s start in comedy was rocky and says his first two gigs were “freaking terrible”. His entire experience of being on stage changed when he decided to take a different approach to telling forced gags and tell anecdotes instead.
“I wrote down three funny stories as they happened, tweaked a few details… and just brought the house down. And so that’s when I kind of struck it – as they say, finding your comedy voice.”
“I’m a storyteller and always will be a storyteller and so I’ve found my niche.”
Dave bases all his material on true events and looking at his resume, he certainly has a lot to delve into. He likes to analyse and draw out the best parts of his anecdotes and act them out in a hilarious, relatable way.
“I always find that stories that are based on elements of truth are funnier… Although not every single little detail is true, the base of the stories did happen.”
Now that he has been doing comedy for three years, Dave is starting to get more comfortable with addressing more personal issues in his material.
“Instead of just telling jokes to be funny, [I want to] give some meaning to my sets now… In this show I’m trying to humanise nurses and police officers because often we’re just looked at as uniforms. People don’t see our human side, I think, and sometimes the horrendous, emotional difficulties that we deal with.”
After the festival Dave is planning to put aside his career-based stories for a bit and perform sets that confront important aspects of society. Dave states sexism as a particular issue that really resonates with him.
“It’s great that I’ve got the police and nurse stories but what’s important to me? … I really struggle with having been in a really masculine environment like the police, and then coming into a very female-dominant industry like nursing. Having seen sexism in the police and being a victim of sexism myself and being treated and looked upon differently because of the fact that I’m a male nurse… That’s something that’s quite strong in me and I think we should stop having this whole sexist approach to it – I guess part of it is, I feel that we are trained by society to sexualise everything.”
When Dave eventually performs these gigs, he hopes that the audience will appreciate them for everything he integrates into the material.
“[I hope that] people will walk away going, “Wow, that’s really true, we do sexualise things, maybe I shouldn’t sexualise things so much” and at the same time walk away going, “That was really funny”. My dream is to have a mix.”
Dave explains that his comedy has to be carefully written and performed. Perhaps you wouldn’t expect it just by looking at him but Dave is very comfortable embracing his feminine side, hugging friends of both genders, and enthusiastically complimenting friends’ fashion choices.
“That dichotomy is something I’ve yet to explore with my comedy and I’d like to because… comedy is a form of expressing yourself. People are sceptical of it because they think it’s just a joke. I need to find a way that it’s believable. [Comedy is] funnier when I’m really trying to express myself. Although sometimes I just write a joke because it’s a funny joke.”
Dave is a huge advocate of women’s rights and feminism, but he has found that his appearance can alienate female audiences if anything he says can be remotely taken in a sexist way.
“It’s really ironic because I have done stuff in the police against women’s violence and for women’s rights and I’ve been so pro-feminist in my approach that [coming across as sexist] is the last thing I’d want to do.”
Dave speaks earnestly about his hope to change society’s view on casual sexism because he has seen it from so many perspectives and recognises how prevalent it is. I appreciate his sincerity and drive to address it and his passion shows that he will do it effectively and entertainingly.
He thanks me so kindly for the interview and gives me a hug in gratitude. Just before I stop recording I ask what his favourite part of comedy is. Although he has serious aspirations with what his comedy should achieve, his favourite part is simple. Without missing a beat, he tells me.
“The thing I love about it is to just make people laugh. When you can diffuse a situation or entertain a room of people where they’re all laughing and joking, it’s just the best feeling in the world.”
Who: Dave Nicholls
What: “Wash Your Mouth Out”, performing alongside Tim Muller, Melanie Bracewell, and James Mustapic for the 2016 International Comedy Festival
Where: Loft at Q Theatre
Dates: 8th May 2016
Tickets: $15 – $20. You can purchase Tickets here.