Nathaniel Tapley is an award winning comedian. I’m resisting saying up and coming because 1. that’s an expression which would warrant you, one and all, to slap me with a wet fish and 2. he’d sound altogether like a post-code, which, despite receiving thousands of emails this past month, Nathaniel assure me he isn’t.
The reason for Nathaniel receiving aforementioned thousands of emails?
Well, other than him being a generally erudite and amusing guy, he posted this article AnOpenLettertoDavidCameron’sParents. The artcile was in response to the ranting of PM Cameron, you know in the aftermath of knee-jerk reactions to the nationwide riots/looting… rooting (?). The article seemed to capture people’s collective imagination or just rile them up. enough to get hundreds of comments, half a million views and floods of electronic mail to his inbox. I was one of those who contacted Nathaniel to find out more about that letter to David Cameron, his life, comedy and the universe of Nathaniel Tapley.
Q: Who is Nathaniel Tapley?
A: Oh gosh. He’s a comedian and writer who likes nothing more than to talk about himself in the third person.
Q: How would you describe your comedy in seven words?
A: Tends to be verbose, overlong, wordy and…
Q: How did you get into comedy?
A: I had a friend who was in a sketch group. One month, everyone else in his sketch group was on holiday, so he asked me if I could do anything funny. I couldn’t, but by the time I found that out I was on a stage in front of several bemused-looking people. After that I just kept doing it until people started laughing instead of sighing.
Q: Which comedians of the now inspire you, who is your favourite comedian of both the past and present?
A: There are so many people doing great stuff at the moment, it’s difficult to choose. But, if you get the opportunity, definitely go to see any of these people: Rachel Parris, Marcel Lucont, Josie Long, Jamie Glassman, Ruth Bratt, The Pros From Dover, Adam Riches, Isy Suttie, Colin Hoult, Gareth Tunley, or Vikki Stone. My favourite of all time: Max Wall. I obviously love the greats like Bill Hicks, George Carlin and Lenny Bruce, and I was influenced starting out by Blackadder, I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again and anything by anybody involved in On The Hour, but for the sheer joy of performing, and an amazing combination of silliness and melancholy, Max Wall.
Q: What are you reading right now and which writers inspire you?
A: Right now I’m reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, and McMafia by Misha Glenny. My favourite writers are a bizarre bunch. Everything George Saunders writes is wonderful. Neal Stephenson is flabbergasting. Obviously Wodehouse, Waugh, and Wilde. And Wyndham. Hunter Thomson was a huge influence when I was younger. Anyone and anything I can get my hands on, really.
Q: In fact let’s get lists out of the way, favourite film, book and sit-com of all time?
A: Hmmmm. Memento; Cryptonomicon and Blackadder. Or The Apartment; Gravity’s Rainbow and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Or something else if you ask me again in two minutes’ time.
Q: What provoked you to write AnOpenLettertoDavidCameron’sParents?
A: Bilious rage. Anger at what was going on. Anger at many of my “liberal” friends calling for water cannons and rubber bullets. Anger at the pomposity and moralising of politicians. Just anger.
Q: Why did your latest David Cameron letter get hundreds of comments, hundreds of thousands of views, but your equally good Martin Amis parody get relatively few in comparison? Is this just “one of those thing” or something else – has your website recently been linked or advertised somewhere?
A: I honestly don’t know why the Cameron parody got so much attention. I can only imagine it was one of those weird social media flukes of being in the right place at the right time. I was angry at the same time many other people were, and they forwarded it to each other, I guess.
Q: How would you describe your own politics?
A: Confused. Left-libertarian. Possibly anarchist. Free market anticapitalist. Unreconstructed pinko. Almost certainly wrong.
Q: Any views on the current state of politics/society at the moment?
A: Too many to really go into. I veer between despair when I look at our political class and institutions, and unbounded hope when I see the things concerned individuals achieve within their communities.
Q: A slightly leading question, but do you think Ed Milliband is given an unfair press because he is actually a decent guy who might improve things?
A: No, I think he’s given an unfair press because he looks like a startled broom staring up from the bottom of a haunted well. Time and again he has shown his willingness to bow to the worst instincts of New Labour, a movement so corrupt and venal that everyone associated with it should be hounded from the country with pointy sticks. He also sounds like a hoover with a wet apple stuck over its nozzle. A pilotless drone. His unwillingness to challenge the Coalition on any major policy areas is a real tragedy, and Britain deserves better. Having said that, I’m not sure they’ll find any better in the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Q: What do you think about those who have been sentenced to six months imprisonment for stealing a bottle of water and the like?
A: I think it’s a perfect example of how impoverished our concept of justice is. The idea that it serves society to imprison for five months a mother of two toddlers who slept through the riots is, frankly, bizarre to me. You’d think the possible societal damage of removing two young children from their mother would clearly outweigh that of imprisoning someone who was given some shorts by a friend. It’s sickening, and yet more evidence of the gross double standards we put up with in our public life.
Q: You wrote your first play in 1997 called Death of a Salsa Man, did you get any inspiration for this title from Seinfeld?
A: What? Seinfeld stole my title? I didn’t watch the programme because I was busy during the 90s, but has Jerry Seinfeld no shame? No, it was just a weak pun. Most of my material from back then was weak puns.
Q: On your website you have your CV listed with your home address. What with some of the comments on your blog being rather hostile are you crazy or just trained in the arts of the Orient?
A: Ah. I should delete that. *quickly deletes that*
Q: Any upcoming gigs, events or projects to tell us about?
A: Yes, I’ll be at Madcap Comedy at The Garage on the 14th September, and at The Forgery Club, Lowdown at The Albany (Great Portland Street) on the 16th September, and at Rich Mix on the 1st October. I recently had a story published in an anthology of zombie stories, which some people might like. You can get that here: The Zombie Feed. Oh, and why not listen to the award-winning horror-comedy podcasts we made last year? In The Gloaming is here: The Gloaming Podcasts.
And that’s quite enough plugging and pimping. I disgust myself…
You can find out more about Nathaniel at his website: Nathaniel Tapley.
Interview by Tom Conrad