Tim is a second time Billy T nominee, he was hilarious the first time, and he’s even more so now. In the past year he’s been honing his stand up skills and watching Grown Ups 2 far too many times with Guy Montgomery for their now famous podcast, The Worst Idea of All Time. Aside from being funny, Tim’s comedy makes a kind of bizarre sense – he’s very easy to identify with. It’s a rare and powerful breed of comedian who can leave an entire audience feeling like they want to be his pal, yet Tim has that knack.
How’s your day going?
Really good. I’m really tired because I was up really late last night doing a very strange project.
I’m scared to ask what that was…
I do a podcast where I watch the same movie, every week, for a year. So me and Guy, who I do it with, wrote out the script from memory and we performed it last night.
How did it go?
Exactly how it should have: harrowing and long and infuriating and tedious and testing. And hot and sweaty.
Like running a marathon.
Yeah, it was like that, like an endurance test for the audience, but it was very in keeping with the spirit of the podcast.
What do you think it is about the podcast that made it so popular?
I have this idea that I think – online especially – people like to see other people in pain. Not like an intense amount of pain, ‘cause we’re not psychopaths, but people like seeing other people in a bit of misery. It makes them feel better about themselves. I think Guy’s take on it is true too, he thinks people put it on when they’re doing chores they don’t want to do: ‘Well I might have to do the dishes but at least I don’t have to do this shit.’ It’s comparative.
What can we expect from your Comedy Fest show? How’s it coming along?
Expect the unexpected. It’s going really well. I’m really looking forward to it. No, it’s a lie every time you hear that, ‘cause no one’s written their show. It could go terribly. We assume it’s going to go well ‘cause we’re all real positive guys.
The good thing about my show is that I’m doing a run in Melbourne before the New Zealand Comedy Fest. So in theory it will be pretty worked out by the time I hit opening night in NZ.
Well, at least you’ll know if it’s bad.
Exactly, there you go, and I can warn people: ‘The show’s finished but it’s no good, don’t come. It went terribly, here are some one-star reviews.’ Hopefully the kinks will be ironed out a bit. I’m looking forward to it – it’s a bit of fun. I think over time I’ve discovered that I’m quite into big ideas. I’m not a very good person for writing joke jokes, with the set up and then the twist and the punch line or one-liners – I’m not very good at that. So what I’m quite attracted to is absurd ideas and stories.
I’ve got quite a political bent as well I think. I don’t think its overbearing over my comedy, but it rears its ugly head from time to time. I don’t know, you get people who are ranty and I don’t enjoy that too much. I don’t like it when they’re not self-aware enough to know they’re being ranty. When they’re doing it and they know that that’s what they’re doing for comic effect: brilliant. Probably the best example of that is Doug Stanhope, a comic from the States who I love and was here in November. He did a two-hour show, drunk as hell, just on stage ranting about everything. But he knows exactly what he’s doing and I think that’s the key. You can get away with anything as long as you know that that’s what you’re doing.
It’s quite hard to get that self-awareness across – sometimes I’ve come away from comedy shows wondering if they really were or not.
Yeah, you can fluke doing the odd good gig if you’re not self-aware but I think where it becomes evident is if you have a successful career. That’s when it’s like: ‘This person clearly knows how to nail it, they know what they’re doing.’
How did you first get into comedy?
Originally, originally, way back in the day –
How long ago?
A really long time ago now. I first started doing it when I was 18 and then didn’t do it again for around 5 years after that. It was ‘cause my older brother was flatting with TK McDonald who’s a comic who’s now moved over to the UK – he’s a very funny dude. I just started doing gigs in Wellington at what is the San Fran Bath House now, it used to be called Indigo back in the day and they hosted a lot of comedy. That was the generation that had Ben Hurley and Cori Gonzalez-Mecuer – it was a really fertile group of comedians. I saw Flight of the Concords there a couple of times, they used to gig with Mrs Peacock… Anyway, it was a long time ago and it was awesome.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a comedian?
Oh, I’ve done things.
Are you still on the radio?
I quit doing that full-time at the start of last year which was a good decision I think. I really enjoyed working in radio – I still do, I do it very part-time now. Especially on Radio Hauraki, it’s an awesome station. Radio’s really awesome and it kind of plays off comedy as well, they’re quite complementary careers. I worked at Inland Revenue for a bit. I’ve got three quarters of a degree in marketing and PR, I’m two papers off and I’m going to finish it very soon, I’ve enrolled this semester. So, I’m going to have tonnes of time while I’m writing a show and doing the podcast and finding a venue for the Comedy Festival.
But it feels so good before it all starts and you’ve got all these things lined up.
And then you’re like, ‘now I have to do all the things, I did not think this through’.
Afterwards you completely forget how painful it was, though.
Have you ever done the 48 Hour Film Festival? That’s the exact feeling you get. At the end you’re like, ‘I’m never doing that again’ and then a week later you’re like, ‘Oh, what a fun thing, I’m definitely doing it again next year.’ It’s fucking ludicrous. It’s like childbirth… I assume.
Who’s the funniest person you know who’s not a comedian?
Probably my mate Nick – I’ll just tell you about my random mate Nick! He’s my best mate in Wellington, we’ve known each other since we were 12. He’s just a real interesting cat, he’s super funny. He doesn’t have an overbearing personality or anything but when you get to know him he just says the funniest things. He’s an amazingly funny writer. There aren’t many opportunities where you’ll see it but every now and again he’ll write a customer complaint letter or something and it’ll be the single funniest piece of writing I’ve seen that month. I’ve got a lot of friends like that who are really talented or hilarious people who have no want to be in comedy whatsoever. I think I’m just naturally attracted to people who are really funny.
Why do you think you chose to go into comedy and they didn’t?
Probably emotional damage, I’m assuming. You have to be a little bit messed up to want to do it.
You can see Tim in Tim Batt Explores the Human Experience at the MonteCristo Room from the 25th of May to the 16th of April. GET TICKETS HERE.