Nic Sampson's new sketch/stand-up show is about fearing the consequences of not forwarding chain mail, he tells Sarah Daniell.

Your show taps into that irrational idea that if we don't answer that chain mail, we will come to some terrible end ... did it spring from an experience?

I used to get chain mail and letters as a kid. I'm always afraid someone's going to put a curse on me. Absolutely. That is one of my main fears.

Are you concerned that even by saying that you have hexed yourself?


I was going to use a Ouija board in the show and my fear is that in doing that I will invite real ghosts into my life. I'm mostly terrified of ghosts. I've never seen one - but whenever someone tells me a ghost story I immediately start crying. The whole concept terrifies me.

Have you ever done a seance?

I wouldn't be able to do one. My girlfriend swears she's seen a ghost and that terrifies me. But the show is a comedy, so hopefully it won't be too scary. It's going to be me playing a bunch of different characters.

You use Twitter as a record for your notes and material. Does Twitter terrify you, in the same way that ghosts do?

It's the worst site in the world, for sure. It's a nightmare. It's brilliant because it gives a voice to everyone but it's the worst because it gives a voice to everyone. I don't engage with people in a way that will make my life a living hell. I just try to do jokes and occasionally people tell me it's shit, but I just don't engage.

One of your most recent tweets says "sitting next to a guy on a plane who is going through his phone deleting pictures of meerkats" ...

That was so strange. What I read was sadness. He would pause on every picture. There were all these pictures of meerkats at the zoo; he'd pause on them for a few seconds and then hit delete. He didn't save any of them. I felt whatever I asked him, the answer was going to be too sad for me to continue sitting next to him. He's been wronged by meerkats or he can't bear to be around pictures of meerkats anymore because meerkats remind him of a time in his life when he was wronged. That is my favourite use of Twitter. Recording the weird shit that happens in life.

You laugh quite a lot at your own jokes.


Yeah, maybe I do - also I just love to laugh. It's f***en great. That is why I'm a comedian.

What big filmic aspirations do you have, if any?

The thing about being comedian is that at one point in your life, someone will let you do a really sad movie. Every comedian has done one, where they're depressed living in a small town and they find a dog and nurse it back to health and there's a girl from their past. I'm down for that. Sad dog town.

What's the greatest comedy drama you've most recently seen?

Hands down, Paddington 2. I know it sounds like I'm joking but it's possibly the best film I've ever seen. I went to a screening with my mum and dad and it was a 2pm screening so there were kids everywhere - except me, and my mum and dad. I was just like on the edge of my seat with my head in my hands, jaw open, absolutely in awe of this bear - his, like, troubles.

What makes you sad?

There is a lot to be sad about in the world at the moment. Inequality, watching people trying to make the world better and the push back ... feeling like you are not doing enough. The arts world is full of uncertainty. you are constantly wondering whether you made the right choice.

How do you cope with criticism?

I just get very mad and very shouty. Actually I don't mind criticism. It can be useful. I remember getting a comment about a show I did. They called it derivative at best, embarrassing at worst. But now I think about that comment all the time when I'm making new work.

How has the #metoo campaign informed your material?

It maybe encourages those who were doing material that wasn't cool anymore to step up and do better jokes. The only option is to adapt or die. And that's a good thing. because there's no reason to be a shithead anymore.

Was there someone you revered from another era who it turns out was just an arsehole ...

I was a huge Louis CK fan and that was crazy because that was so recently - it was like 10 years ago. He has such a quick rise and fall. It doesn't bother me that I used to find him funny - it's more of a betrayal in some ways because he claimed he was about examining his own faults when he was just hiding his faults. Ricky Gervais too - he's been getting negative feedback for making fun of trans people. We don't want to hear jokes about trans people as we're all trying not to be such arseholes to each other.


NZ International Comedy Festival
Unfinished Business, Basement Theatre, May 8-12.