Performer: Nik Coppin Photograph by: Mike Lebowski Show 1: EdinBra Fringe Comedy - Laughing Horse @ Espionage – Mata Hari Show 2: Battle of the Superheroes - Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters – Maggie’s Front Room Show 3: Shaggers - Laughing Horse @ Espionage / Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters Show 4: Huggers - Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters / Fireside Promoter: Indie Online: Facebook Website
Tell me about your Edinburgh show.
Well, the solo show that is currently in development is ‘Shark’, but it won’t be appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018. The goodly people of Edinburgh will have to wait until 2019 for that.
In the meantime they have me MC-ing at the naughty cheeky show Shaggers, the kids show Huggers and the geeky show Battle of the Superheroes. They are line-up shows and I think the titles kind of adequately explain what they are about.
In conjunction with Jeannie Jones from Over The Lyne Comedy, I am also co-producing an all-female showcase entitled EdinBra Fringe Comedy. We aim to support female comedy and the newer comedians coming through as well as the Breast Cancer Awareness charity with some donations from our bucket collections.
If not, certainly look them up on the website for details. They are all good fun.
As for ‘Shark’, there will be some stories about comedy exploits, maybe dealing with a few progressive issues (maybe) and some good comedy deconstruction. I hope. I will be doing a number of previews throughout 2018 as well as the show at the Adelaide Fringe, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Brighton Fringe and Edinburgh Fringe next year.
Just remember, there is no shark….
Tell me about your first gig.
It was this kind of competition with the Comedy Store in conjunction with the alcopop Hooch. A panel of judges watching loads of comedians at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford deciding if we should go through to the heats or something. It was weird, that is what I will say.
I went up fully intending to do material based around working on London Underground Ltd – as I was at the time – but ended up doing this thing about Knighthoods. I don’t know why I changed at the last minute, but I didn’t get through.
The next gig I did – my second ever and first in front of a real proper genuine audience – I went up intending to do the stuff about Knighthoods and ended up doing the stuff about me working on London Underground Ltd. That switch was because there was a chap in the audience that was a signalman on National Rail, and I used to be a Signalman for some of my time on London Underground.
I thought it would help me connect with him (on his birthday) and the rest of the audience, but I couldn’t remember any of the stories from when I was a signalman. I did other stuff about my time in that job though and it went down quite well.
I was a pretty awful signalman by the way.
Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
Not really, no. I sometimes have some nervous energy I need to burn off so pace up and down line a caged lion a bit, but apart from that, no. And I don’t drink before shows. At the Edinburgh Fringe however, especially when it’s gone past the halfway mark, it’s more about finding the energy rather than burning it off!
Sometimes I develop this weird psychosomatic deep cough, but that’s not really a ritual, is it? I don’t think.
And I certainly don’t masturbate into pub urinals, like somebody who was caught a number of times doing before a gig. If you want the name of said person, join me for a drink and a game of pool and I will tell you all about it.
Tell me about your best and worst review.
I did have a review at the Adelaide Fringe a couple of years ago for my show ‘Mixed Racist’. The chap who reviewed the show totally got where I was coming from with regards to it being a show about some deep issues with regards to race, but done in a light-hearted and jovial manner.
It was centred around me being accused of racism in a South Australian newspaper during the Adelaide Fringe in 2012. Google search Nik Coppin racist or Nik Coppin/Peter Goers and a few articles will give you the full story.
I also talked about personal issues with regard to me being mixed race in the show. One of the quotes was this, “Coppin probably won’t thank me for saying this, but he is an educator”. I’m sure a few of my comedy friends and peers would have a good laugh at that line.
I got a one star review once for a solo show years and years ago, but I can’t remember who from and what it said. It’s not worth remembering the bad ones. They stay on the internet and are no longer tomorrow’s chip paper, but like I say to newer comedians, don’t dwell on them or perpetuate them by posting them on social media or having a go at the reviewer. Just let them disappear into the internet ether.
During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?
As I say, I’m not doing a solo show and if I was, maybe, but probably not. And I rarely look at reviews of the compilation shows I run and MC.
Those shows have enough good reviews for me to use in promotional material, and usually somebody sends me a link to good reviews at some point.
How do you feel about reviewers generally?
I can take them or leave them really. But there seems to be too many that are intent on making a name for themselves with their smart comments which sometimes stray into areas of spoilers actually.
Like anything, you have good ones and bad ones, and the bad ones can be really annoying. They need to understand it’s not about them and trying to get attention for themselves and whatever writing career they are chasing.
They do have to sometimes realise as well that performers are real people, so think a bit harder before sitting in front of your laptop and rubbishing somebody’s hard work.
There are some bad performers out there who don’t make the effort, but at the very least they’ve got the guts to get up there in the spotlight and not hide in an audience with a pen and anonymity.
In April 2018, YouTube comedian, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was fined £800 for training his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute with its paw, in response to the phrase ‘Gas the Jews’. Do you believe Meechan committed a criminal offence, and why?
I think he is a dick, make no mistake about that. And from what I have read (which admittedly isn’t much actually), he was fined for contravening broadcasting regulations with regards to offensive material or something. Apparently that is illegal, and he got done for it.
I do think people had an issue with him to find something like that to do him on, but let’s face it, even if he was just trying to annoy his girlfriend by making her pug a Nazi, he didn’t have to use terms like “Gas the Jews”. Nobody is going to see that and go out and kill Jewish people, but he could have said much less offensive things to the dog like “Shall we invade France?”, Or other similarly inoffensive things to get the dog saluting.
I can see that there are freedom of speech issues that comedians might worry about, but let’s face it, the man is an idiot. Maybe there should be more fines for that.
Live comedy is generally self-policing anyway, in that if you offend people on a regular basis, they won’t laugh and you won’t get booked. YouTube is a different issue.
Did Dankula’s girlfriend dump him at least? She probably should have.
However, another question is, where does it end? Chris Rock uses the word “nigger” during one of his many famous routines and they are broadcast. Should he be fined as well? Or have his DVD banned in the UK?
He also used the word during an anecdote about Eddie Murphy on the Graham Norton show and some people got upset. I think it was perfectly fine. I suppose at least Mr Rock had some context and relevance. Dankula, not really.
Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?
I don’t think so. Just recently there was a tragic situation in Melbourne where a young female comedian by the name of Eurydice Dixon was raped and murdered on the way home after a gig and some drinks.
Out of respect for this poor woman some people were calling for an end to rape jokes. Why? In all my years doing comedy I’ve ever heard of any incidents of any material about rape leading to somebody being raped.
Also, any so-called ‘rape jokes’ are never condoning rape. They are either inappropriate wordplay or ridiculing rapists themselves. I suppose you could argue that it’s making light of a horrific situation, but doesn’t comedy do that? Shouldn’t it do that? Isn’t it supposed to?
Again, where does it end? Just because somebody or group of people doesn’t like something, it doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it or make jokes about it. And like I said, it’s self-policing. Any comedian without the requiste amount of skill to do dark material will soon find themselves getting blank stares, heckles and not being booked for gigs.
Have you ever gone too far?
Not with regards to dark material. That’s not my bag. We all make mistakes and I’ve maybe pushed a situation too far with regards to bantering with somebody in the audience who might not want to be spoken to. But that’s about it. I have on occasion started with or chosen the wrong bit of material for a situation as well, but you can usually work around such things drawing upon experience.
Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.
This one can be linked to maybe bad reviews. My second year of doing a solo show in Melbourne, I ripped the room for about an hour and then a reviewer gave me 5 out of 10. I was quite upset about that because the crowd and myself had a great time. The microphone was practically smoking after the gig, it was such a good show, man! I guess it was one of those reviewers who just didn’t connect on the same level that myself and the audience did. It was a ripper of a show though.
I have had some fantastic gigs in some very intimate rooms though. I like that. My favourite sorts of rooms. Rooms with about 50 to 100 people in an intimate room properly set up for comedy.
Just the other day I did a gig in Antwerp that was like that. Great room, great MC who runs the gig, all acts did well in front of an audience that are regulars and have been for six years and are properly into their comedy.
The Yes Bar in Glasgow is like that as well. Always a fantastic atmosphere. Cosmic Comedy in Berlin too. Great intimate venues run very well by people who really care about comedy and audiences.
So whilst I couldn’t pinpoint one particular gig as such, there are lots of great intimate rooms around the UK, Europe and overseas in Asia and Australia like that. I won’t list them all now but trust me when I tell you they are there.