Billy T Award-winning comedian David Correos has turned his comedy and his weight around after a punishing run in Edinburgh. The 25-year-old Cantabrian says he's 'doubled-down' the gross-out factor for his upcoming Comedy Festival show in Auckland.
1. Wow - you've lost a lot of weight! How did you do it?
Yes, about 40kg. I was 126kg at my heaviest. I cut out carbs and sugars. I got five days of flu-like symptoms from cutting sugar; headaches, chest congestion - I couldn't get out of bed. I used to be addicted to soft drink. I'd wake up at 3am and huff back a quarter of a bottle of Fanta and go back to sleep. It was crazy. I had to drink soda water to wean myself off. Soda water is like methadone for soda drinkers. My lowest point was last year when I ordered a full Indian dinner but there was a 10-minute wait so I crossed the road and ate a Burger King meal then ate the Indian as well, had a 1.5 litre of Fanta and passed out in a food coma.
2. Comedian Jonah Hill famously said, "There's nothing funny about a physically fit man." Have you noticed the same thing with your comedy since slimming down?
I have! I usually take my clothes off in my shows. I thought covering myself in paint was funny. I didn't realise the wobbling fat added a dimension to it. People used to say, "OMG, it's amazing how comfortable you are with your body" but the moment you look good, it's not funny. Now I've cut the weight, my material's gotten weirder. It's much more polarising.
3. You won the Billy T Award, which recognises up-and-coming comedy talent, in 2016. How did that change things for you?
I feel like a stagnated for a while. The Billy T was my goal and once I had that I was like, "What do I do now?" I was riding on that high, getting drunk and baked all the time, doing gigs just for the sake of it. Before the award I was just having fun but afterwards I started thinking, "I'm not even that good". I did the Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Festival last year and got beaten down doing shitty gigs for people who just hated me. Then I went to Adelaide which kicked me even further down. But even though the audiences didn't like me, the comics did and that gave me hope.
4. What was your best gig?
In Gore, a month after I got home to New Zealand. Cohen Holloway and I were on the road to Gore when he got an email inviting him to a red carpet in Los Angeles for his role in Thor: Ragnarok. We were booked into a 400-seat venue. Only 30 people turned up, but those 30 people absolutely loved it. When people show you a little bit of love it's like a weighted vest comes off. I've never had so much fun.
5. Your show in next month's NZ International Comedy Festival is called The Correos Effect. Can audiences expect more of your gross-out style of comedy?
Yes I have doubled down on the gross out; doubled-down hard. Be warned. Drunk people tend to like my humour.
6. Your parents immigrated to Christchurch in the 1980s. Why did they leave the Philippines?
Mum got caught up in the rebellion in the rural areas where she worked as a midwife. The government noticed her movements and suspected she was a sympathiser. They captured her and interrogated her. She went off the grid for three days. Luckily her friend's dad was quite high up and managed to get her out. It's an insane story; the things she's seen. Dad told me when he first came over no one would give him work. He's an electrical engineer and had to work extra hard to gain trust. I had the most heart-warming moment recently when a guy who used to work with Dad at Lyttleton Port told me how smart my dad is. It was humbling to hear that from a white Kiwi man because you always hear people talking about stupid immigrant workers who have no initiative.
7. Do you ever joke about racism?
No, I tend to focus more on the funny side of Filipino culture. A lot of our culture is about saving face. You've got to be really friendly and polite but once everyone's gone my mum and aunties will be gossiping loudly and calling everyone out. Dad had to cancel Sky Sport because mum got heart palpitations from screaming at the Crusaders too much.
8. Growing up in Woolston, did you show an early talent for comedy?
I was a really naughty child. I was always doing something to get attention, like eating bugs. My Year 7 teacher told mum I was the worst student in class; I couldn't pay attention, I was a constant disruption. Mum cried all the way home. They had me assessed but the doctors said there was nothing wrong with me. I do get obsessed with stuff. First it was baking. Then it was magic. I'd go to the Magic Shop every day after school and learn card tricks. Then it was weight lifting. I almost qualified for the Commonwealth Games when I broke my ankle, but by then I'd discovered comedy and started performing arts at Hagley Theatre Company.
9. When did you make your break in comedy?
My mate from the Magic Store started a variety show called Monday Night Magic for artists that had no space to perform after the earthquakes. There was an amazing mix of musicians and street performers. I didn't really know much about stand-up. I was just trying to get a laugh. Stand-up comics like Sam Simmons were a big influence on me. After a while I started learning how to write jokes.
10. Where were you in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake?
I was in the KFC in town, on the second level. I thought, "Oh f***. I'm going to be remembered as the guy who died in KFC." All the windows imploded. Walking home through the central city I saw the top of the cathedral on the ground - the big cross. I remember thinking the most scumbag thing, "I could just take that. It'd be worth something."
11. What's the worst job you've done?
When I was 19 I got a job as a vocational support worker for people with disabilities like cerebral palsy. On my first day I had to change a man's nappy. I don't know what I did wrong but he got a full blown erection on me. I freaked out and ran to the manager who told me to put a cold flannel on it. Looking back I was the wrong person to be in that job. You need professionals who have been trained in that stuff.
12. Who are your favourite comics?
John Mulaney, Patrice O'Neal, Tony Roberts, Dave Chapelle, Chris Rock, Bobby Lee and Rodney Dangerfield. All these comics are really good at structure. What they do is beautiful - like watching ballet. I'm so jealous. I'd love to write sharp, tight jokes like that. But trying to copy another comedian doesn't work. I just have to be myself. My show's a mix of physical, observational, wordplay, music, stories and weird stuff that makes me laugh. Comedy is really just surprising people.