Samoan-Welsh comedian to tease the NZ Govt
A Samoan-Welsh comedian plans to tease the New Zealand Government.
A New Zealand born comedian of Samoan and Welsh descent says he will be throwing some light jabs at the New Zealand Government when he hosts the Wellington capital birthday celebrations this weekend. (Saturday 25 July)
James Nokise grew up in Wellington and draws upon his multicultural childhood and the political dynamic between New Zealand and the islands for his comedy.
He says Pacific Island people have a unique talent for talking about serious topics in a light-hearted way and told Daniela Maoate-Cox there will be some old school Pacific style teasing on the steps of New Zealand's parliament.
JAMES NOKISE: I grew up with a British mother in New Zealand, in the Samoan community of Wellington. You don't realise how multicultural Wellington is until you're not in Wellington anymore so yeah I guess seeing all these other cultures through other cultures eyes. So I would get the British interpreted for my by the Samoan culture, and then the Samoan culture intepreted for me by the New Zealand culture.
DANIELA MAOATE-COX: And now and then, Pacific people feature in your comedy as well, what's the reception from Pacific people like to your jokes?
JN: It's great, I always feel I don't get to perform infront of Pacific audiences enough, because most of my comedy actually comes from sitting around with my cousins in the garage or with my aunties and uncles at the kitchen table while I was growing up, that's the vibe I've tried to create in the show so when Pacific people are there, it's amazing because they'll laugh about 20 seconds before everyone else because they know where I'm going with the joke. It's always great and also it helps because I'm not the most Pacific looking brother in the world, so when you've got Pacific Islanders laughing really hard at your jokes it's like a nice little validation there to the rest of the audience.
DMC: Is there anything about Polynesian culture that's quite unique in that it provides something to your humour that isn't seen elswhere in the world?
JN: Do you know what, maybe it's just where I've travelled, but there is a certain inherent joy, which, maybe it sounds really cliche to say it's sunshine, but there's a real fun that just comes out. The way we tease each other, the way we talk about serious things, real serious things but in a light hearted manner and I don't know if I've seen that necessarily in other cultures. The closest I've probably seen it is in the Black American culture in New York, earlier this year which was kind of strange for both of us. Their roots are from Africa and our roots are very much in the Pacific and South East Asia and yet there was this urban shorthand that we could relate to.
DMC: Politics also seems to be a recurring character but politics always seems to be something that many people just dismiss, it's too hard to decipher, and too hard to tackle, but there's no way you could ignore New Zealand's relationship with the Pacific, do you talk about that relationship?
JN: Oh yeah, I love talking about the relationship between New Zealand and the Pacific. I love reminding New Zealand, especially on the left, I like to remind them that it was a Labour government that came up with the legislation for the Dawn Raids or that for this 50 years of friendship there was that nine years where Pacific Islanders were kind of hunted in New Zealand. Just to always remind them that they shouldn't take the Pacific for granted, I think that's why I kind of always enjoy that.
DMC: And continuing on the line of politics, this weekend you're going to be hosting the 150th birthday celebration of the capital city in New Zealand, Wellington, what can we expect to see there? Are you going to through some shade at the government or are you going to leave them alone?
JN: Well, it's interesting, and I kind of think it's fun, I am at heart, just a kid from the Hutt Valley, and now I'm on the steps of parliament in front of thousands of people for the celebration that's a very cool journey. The trick is, you've got to not be insulting, you can be irreverent, but you shouldn't be insulting so there'll be some teasing, there'll be some good old school teasing going on which hopefully won't get me arrested. But again, that's the cool thing about growing up in the Pacific Island church is that you learn how to tease without getting a hiding. It's a very thin line sometimes.
DMC: There aren't very many Samoan Welsh comedians out there, do you have any advice to other comedians, perhaps from the Pacific Islands who want to get up there and have a go?
JN: Yeah I think the important thing is to jump on stage, you know we get raised in an environment where often we feel quite shy about putting ourselves forward, once we're on stage we're fine. Pacific Islanders are natural performers and you see it a lot in theatre, or in sketch work, and especially in dancing at the moment, put us on the stage and we're fine but often it's getting to that point when you're on the stage so that would be my only advice, just embrace it. And don't forget, the most popular action star on the planet right now is the Rock. We should all celebrate the fact that a Samoan who has done some schooling in Auckland is now the biggest drawcard in cinemas everywhere.
James Nokise says the rugby is after Saturday's celebration so he is expecting a strong Pacific turnout in Wellington.
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