Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 4 February 2010 Contents LOCAL FEATURE
4 February, 2010 | Page 7
Stand-up comedian Mike King hits
the road this month for his first
national tour since 2002 – the
first time he has toured free from
the shackles of cannabis and
a cocaine addition that almost
ended his life. And, although he
wasn’t on the road, he was in
our living rooms, riding a wave
of hedonistic celebrity status
gained through a raft of television
Now he’s turned his back on it all
and is adamant both he, and his
show, are better for it.
“For me this is a journey about
winning back the respect of the
New Zealand audience – respect
that I lost through chasing fame
and fortune and ego on TV. And I
lost a lot of respect,” he said.
“I look back at some of the shit
I’ve done and I go ‘oh my God,
what the hell were you thinking?’
and the answer simply was, I was
seeking fame and money; that’s
all I was seeking. I didn’t care
what I was delivering as long as
my head was regularly on TV and
people pointed at me. But what a
So he’s touring the country in a
borrowed campervan, avoiding
the cities and instead playing
pubs and clubs in off the beaten
track places like Bluff, Te Anau,
Mosgiel, Balclutha and Frankton.
Joining him will be a cameraman
he’s paying himself with a view
to putting out a post-show DVD
but also, perhaps, some kind of
television programme examining
the kiwi psyche and the pieces of
paradise that people call home.
It’s just something he’s always
wanted to do. He has not sold
the concept to any television
production company nor sought
funding from New Zealand On
Air which he scathingly says has
fuelled a substandard industry.
“It’s the only industry in the world
where you don’t have to put your
own money into it. I find that truly,
truly bizzare. If you’ve got an idea
that you believe in, well throw
your own money into it, that’s
what normal New Zealanders
do. There’s too many of these
production companies living off
the pig’s back, delivering shit to
the New Zealand public week in,
week out. It should stop,” he said.
“Along with the funding comes a
whole lot of dickheads who don’t
know what they’re doing tell you
how to do what you do best.”
King said he worked in television
for years being told what to do and
what was funny by people who’d
never told a joke.
“On TV I got tired of apologising to
people for shit that I had nothing
to do with... on the road I have the
ultimate freedom. It’s me and it’s
the audience and it’s a battle. He
who gets the most laughs wins
and I love it.”
So he’s rediscovered his first love,
stand-up comedy, with a show that
reflects a huge change in lifestyle
“Before, I was a cocaine addict
and when you’re taking that stuff
you become very self-centred and
you have a desperation about you
because you’re just working for
the next fix and I don’t have that
anymore so I’m a lot less stressed.
I can be more philosophical
without losing the humour,” he
“The shows are nowhere as edgy
as they used to be, they’re more
about life and relationships really.
It’s a lot less confrontational than
it used to be. My goal before was
to go out
of a crowd.”
to say he’s
boring. He say his shows now
are a lot more engaging and he
proudly claims to be in the best
form he’s ever been. He’s also
been pleasantly surprised at the
reaction from audiences.
“New Zealanders are a very
forgiving bunch and, if you put
your hand up and say you’ve
messed up, we want you to do
well. Despite what everyone says
about tall poppies and all the rest
of it, we want our fellow kiwis to
That was especially true of the
Anywhere else in the world if
a comedian failed to hit the
mark the crowd was “onto them
like dogs on a defenceless
child” whereas in New Zealand
audiences always inwardly willed
people to do well.
King has seen some dark days.
He’s been outspoken about
his battle with depression.
He nderstands now that it was
depression that led to his drug
addiction. On stage he makes
people laugh, makes them happy
and that, in turn, makes him
happy. It gives him a high that he
never needed to supplement with
artificial stimulants. Off-stage,
however, used to be a different
“I was never on stage wasted.
Ever. It was purely an off-stage
thing,” he said.
“Off-stage was where everyone
wanted you to be the certain
person that they saw on stage
and I couldn’t bring that to the
party. I’ve always been a shy,
inward sort of a person – I know
that sounds really wierd – but I
couldn’t get up again when I got
off stage and I couldn’t be what
everyone wanted me to be.
“I discovered one day when
someone gave me some cocaine
that I could be everything that
everyone wanted me to be... but
I never took that to the stage
because I know – once I’m on the
stage and that light goes on – I
know who I am and what I’m
supposed to do and what I’m
supposed to be.”
Now, drug free, Mike King knows
exactly who he is and what he is
supposed to do. He’s “jumped
back on that horse” and gone
back to doing what he does best.
“And what I do best is I make
people laugh,” he said.
“And if I don’t make you laugh
at the show, you come see me
afterwards and I’ll give you your
• Mike King performs at the Te
Anau Club on Sunday March 7.
King hits new high with return to stage
Kiwi comedian Mike King who will perform in Te Anau on March 7.
Kiwi comedian Mike King will perform in Te Anau next
month – clean, sober and with a show he says returns
to his roots and comes straight from the heart. Kirsty
Macnicol spoke to him last week... 1035 days sober.
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