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Comedian Dai Henwood: One line can drive the whole show

Jun 29th, 2010 | By | Category: Featured Article, Features, Front Page Layout, News

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LOUNGE LIZARD: Dai Henwood before his Wellington show.

IN a dimly lit bar in Wellington, on a weekday night, a mobile phone rings loudly.

Comedian Dai Henwood pauses mid-performance and cheerfully says: “Go ahead, answer it. I can wait.” The crowd laughs. I turn bright red. It’s my phone.

Dai doesn’t make the connection when we meet for an interview, and later, when I feel brave enough to tell him, he just laughs.

A ringing cellphone is now a common occurrence for stage performers, one of a number of hazards he faces.

Dai_2Hectic schedules and busy nights entertaining can induce “intense paranoia”. A comment made in the audience or an odd name when interacting, has had Dai second guess whether he has said the same joke twice.

Occasionally he feels like sitting on a heckler. They can ruin the flow, something that is hard to ignore.

Comedy is timing, irony and juxtaposition. Dai believes a great show is any material done right: “That’s the beauty of comedy as an art form.”

He believes trying stuff that could be outrageously offensive is ok if dealt with in a way that people can laugh.

Shock tactics like racism or sexism can work if delivered properly, something Dai believes is overdone by younger comics and can offend an audience regardless of how funny the comic really is.

“If you’re going to start picking targets, you definitely have to be the main target yourself,” he says.

Dai Henwood is a happening thing.

DAI HENWOODS new show on C4

DAI HENWOODS new show on C4

He has a second season with ‘The Jono Project’, currently showing on C4, and had a very successful comedy week in Wellington in May.

As well, he is back on 7 Days airing with TV3, so the laughs are only getting better with the small, hairy Aucklander.

Before fame on the stage at the Billy T awards in 2002, Dai completed his degree in eastern religion and drama at Victoria University.

His parents, Carolyn and Ray, helped establish the successful Circa Theatre in Wellington, providing a solid footing for the performances Dai is known for which sell out and succeed as a hugely popular comic.

Dai says with comedy, you never know how it will go. “I can write a show and think it’s funny, but never actually know until I do it in front of people.”

Putting a show together can take a good five months. The inspiration can come from anywhere, often while doing basic tasks like running or gardening, “where my brain is just wandering.”

“I never know when a joke will hit which is why it makes it so fulfilling. I know a line that will get a laugh and can’t wait till I deliver it,” he says.

Although Wellington is no longer home, Dai is easily recognised when on the street but tries to avoid Courtney Place on a Saturday night.

Being a “smaller dude” means he often gets mobbed or picked up by friendly drunks who want to say hello or take a picture.

“Young guys don’t realise just how intense they can be and can definitely freak me out,” he says.

At 32, Dai Henwood is where he wants to be. Confidence and a strong self-belief in his talent and his gigs going well means his job has worked out as hoped. He credits supportive parents and the advice from his Mum in getting him where he is today.

“Whatever you choose to do, commit and do it 110%, pick the path and go down it and go hard.”

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is A journalist who loves wide open spaces and fresh air, passionate about the world we live in and keeping our natural world as pristine as we can while still living happily. Responsibility is the first step. Toiti te whenua.
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