I saw Mike King perform some time around 2005 ... the Kawerau Cosmopolitan Club, if I recall.

He was a successful standup comedian, a big name for Kawerau, and even though I wasn't a fan, I went along for a night out.

The beer flowed, the evening got raucous. So did King.

It was an aggressive, in-your-face performance with the ante being upped at every turn.

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He went past risque to downright vulgar as the show progressed. I cringed at the blue jokes at first, but ended up laughing. He was very, very funny ... though you might have felt you needed a shower afterwards.

He brought the house down — a professional at the top of his game.

I saw Mike King perform again on Sunday morning when I tuned in to The Hui on TV, "the Maori current affairs show for all New Zealanders".

It was another brilliant performance, but it was a different Mike King ... though he still got quite a few laughs.

Now a reformed alcoholic and drug addict, King was addressing the students at Whanganui City College in his role as mental health advocate.

With 668 suicides in the past year, the highest toll since records began, and the highest rate of youth suicide in the developed world, we need the likes of Mike King.

He told his own story of the insecure boy who compensated for a lack of self-esteem by rubbishing people as a foul-mouthed comedian.

He told The Hui that kids recognised themselves in his account of secondary school teasing and bullying (he was both victim and bully). I believe it.

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He pointed out the great parental truth — children don't do what you say; they do what you do.

He said people mistook vulnerability for weakness. He encouraged the students to show vulnerability — to ask for help, and to give help.

Forty per cent of kids would have a major crisis before they left school, he told the gathering.

"Hope is the one thing that's missing — the most important things kids need is a sense of hope."

"I am hope" was emblazoned on his hoodie.

It was, of course, particularly significant he was talking to City College which four years ago lost one of its brightest lights, head boy Eruera Heitia-Ponga.

But he should be talking to every school and to every student.

You can still catch the show on TV's Three website.