1 You once played the yellow Power Ranger. Do you ever get recognised from that role?
Not in New Zealand because it's not on TV here, but I do get lovely messages in broken English from places like South America or Iraq saying "Are you the Mystic Ranger?" Power Rangers had a whole new cast every season. Ours was a Harry Potter rip-off called Mystic Force. My guy was kind of a nerd which is why I got the role. Being a scrawny, pale kid with red hair I wasn't going to be the handsome guy on a motorbike. Often they cast redheads as bullies which I find really funny because when did you ever get bullied by a kid with red hair?
2 Have you ever suffered discrimination because of your red hair?
People do make fun of you but it's fine. I'm a white male. I've got nothing to complain about.
3 You won Best Newcomer at last year's International Comedy Festival. How would you describe your stand-up style?
I love the absurd. I enjoy doing characters. I do my own versions of national treasures like Ernest Rutherford or Sam Neill which bear no relationship to the real person at all. I played Sam Neill as a complete drunk trying to peddle his Two Paddocks wine. Sam Neill has actually seen my Sam Neill. He said it was good. I've always dreamed that maybe one day I'll interview him as Sam Neill and maybe we'd share a bottle of wine. That would be beautiful. This year I did a whole show about Ernest Rutherford. He was a bit like Forrest Gump, he went through all these historic events, fought Einstein on board the Titanic and had fantastical adventures. I sold out a two-week run of the show so I'm hoping to take that to Edinburgh next year. Some real scientists came towards the end of the show which worried me because I don't know anything about science. They seemed to like it which was cool, but they solved the "unsolvable" equations, which wasn't so cool because I hadn't prepared a response for that.
4 What's the best comedy show on New Zealand TV?
Funny Girls, definitely. I'm biased because I wrote some of it and I'm in it, but I just love it. It was such a joy to see how many people latched on to it. The reviews were very positive and it rated really well. We're hoping to get funding for a second season.
5 Who is our funniest New Zealander?
I'd say Rose Matafeo has the most raw talent. Her show Rose is finally dead at last year's comedy festival, where she held her own funeral, was [amazing].
6 Do you hang out with your fellow comedy writers in your spare time?
Yeah, we all do this improv show called Snort at the Basement Theatre. My favourite thing to do on a Friday night is go down there at about 10pm and do some drunk improv for about 100 people. It's a great way to practise your comedy.
7 Do you prefer improvised comedy or stand-up?
I find stand-up the most challenging because instead of going "I'm just making this stuff up on the spot" you're going, "Out of all the things I could plan to say to you right now, this is what I think is going to make you laugh." But if you nail it the rewards are great.
8 Were you funny at school?
No, although one kid wrote in my Wellington College yearbook, "Nic, there's only room for one class clown and it's me." Mum was always very encouraging of us doing speech and drama and music. All my siblings are performers - two are professional dancers and the other's a drummer. Drama was the one people kept telling me I was going to do. I had an agent from age 10 and was in a TV show called Twist in the Tail narrated by William Shatner, pre-Boston Legal when he was slumming it in New Zealand. I got two weeks off school and $2000 which was like a million child dollars. I think I got a Game Boy and saved the rest for my education which I never ended up getting.
9 Did you just check your phone?
Yes, sorry. I'm addicted to my phone. Twitter's my main thing. Why? I guess because you get that instant gratification of people liking and retweeting your stuff. That's pretty much what any actor or comedian is doing. We all just want to be loved.
10 How many followers do you have?
4197. But that's never going to be enough. When I got to 2000 I was like, "That's a good number" but the more you have the less impressed you are and you have to keep feeding your followers otherwise they unfollow you. I tweet at least 20 times a day. Twitter's basically just everyone yelling into a void. It's a pointless exercise in narcissism.
11 Why do you do it then?
I like Twitter because you make your own online experience. You choose to follow people you're interested in. It's also a nice little writing exercise because you can send out a joke or an idea and get instant feedback. Pretty much all my stand-up routines will be jokes I've tried out on Twitter. I'm currently doing this "Pick a Path" thing like Goosebumps which is really dumb but quite fun.
12 You're one of a line-up of TV actors taking turns to play the son of God in Jesus Christ Part II at the Basement Theatre. How did your guest turn go?
I had so much fun. They tell you nothing so you just walk on stage and they start talking to you as if you're Jesus and you have to improvise a response. The joy is seeing someone who's been on Shortland Street being put in embarrassing situations they have no control over and watching them fail. But around that is a really slick musical about Jesus coming back to earth, so you still get some rehearsed entertainment.
Jesus Christ Part II is on at the Basement Theatre until December 19.