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I caught up with Dai Henwood (by email) to get some information from one of NZ’s biggest (in reputation) comedians.
You might know Dai from 7Days, Jono’s New Show, Rolling The Dai, or any number of comedy shows of the last decade.
Y: Dai Henwood, or should I say – P Funk Chainsaw – Thanks for taking the time. How long have you been in the comedy industry?
D: I did my first stand up performance in July 1997 as a double act with a woman called Anna Kennedy (we were called Dai-Anna, see what I did there?) So to be concise almost 15 years
Y: What pulled you away from MCing weddings, to comedy?
D: I was a wedding DJ, which was a job that saw me through University. I had that job because I love music, however playing weddings is not the place to play music you love. I have always liked comedy and performed a lot during secondary school in school plays so the minute I had a chance to do stand up I grabbed it.
Y: One particular act you’re known for is your Interpretive Dance for Time After Time.. Is Interpretive Dance something you do a lot of, or is that one song special?
D: I have done a couple of songs but Time After Time became a bit of a party piece for me. I did it for a while and then tried to retire it but people kept wanting me to do it. To be honest it is probably one of my favorite pieces of comedy. I think the reason for that is that I like performing it as much as audiences like watching it
Y: Do you remember your first standup gig? When/Where was it?
D: My first Stand up was at a University comedy competition in Auckland. I performed as a duo (see Q1 for details) We were on 18th out of 18 acts and Ewen Gilmour was the MC. I remember having a good gig (although I have forgotten what the material was.) Ewen said that we were good and had potential and that gave me the spark to keep going.
Y: Do you remember what your opening gag was?
D: No… Although I think it was about the actor Brian Dennehy who was in heaps of TV movies at the time. He always played a policeman or a pedophile. The gag was about his moto being molest or arrest
Y: Character comedy has been something major in your past, Rhys Mathewson mentioned that it was something you taught about when he was going through Class Comedians, is that a method you used to initially get you on stage, with a character to hide behind?
D: I wasn’t really hiding behind a character, I came from a theatre background. My Dad is an actor and I was used to being in plays so it was a natural option to do a character. I was also watching a lot of WWE wrestling at the time so I thought why not do a wrestling character. I called hime P-Funk Chainsaw
Y: For the uninitiated, who is, or was P Funk Chainsaw?
D: He was a massive Black American professional wrestler in a 5’5 white mans body. I could talk about any topic in this character and it ended up funny. In fact the more esoteric the topic the funnier it was
Y: Do you still bring out the character?
D: I haven’t for a few years. I did do a performance for my DVD (which is available in all good stores and on my website www.daihenwood.com) He could make a comeback at anytime. As all professional wrestlers do.
Y: How many comedy festival shows have you performed here?
Y: Which show did you take to Edinburgh? Did you make just the one trip?
D: I did one trip with a full show in 2003 after winning the Billy T in 2002. Since then I have been there again just to do stand up spots. It is a great place toperform as there are so many great comics that you are constantly challenging yourself to raise your game.
Y: You released a DVD called Dai Another Day… are there plans for another one soon?
D: I can’t say much but yes. Is that saying much?
Y: I see you’re taking side parts in several shows during this year, but not doing a solo show… Planning for a bigger project, taking a break, or still recovering from when Fonzie touched you last year?
D: Planning for a bigger project. I didn’t feel I had a full show ready for this year and didn’t want my fans to spend good money on a ticket and see a half baked show. I am working up a lot of new material and am going to be back in 2013 with a banging project. However, we are doing a live 7 Days in the festival which will be a great show.
Y: So where in or outside of this festival can people see you this year?
D: 7Days, host for Best of The Billies, Gastrocomic, The Good Guys Show in Wellington. Plenty of chances to soak in my comic stylings
I am on tour with Ben Hurley, Steve Wrigley and Vaughan King. it is the Canadian Club Real NZ TOur. visit www.realnztour.co.nz for details, towns and tickets
Keep an eye on the Facebook and Twitter pages, as we may have some Dai Henwood giveaways closer to the festival :)