Thank F*** it’s Friday with… Louis Tait

A laugh a minute: Louis Tait. PHOTO: ONmag,

A laugh a minute: Louis Tait. PHOTO: ONmag.

This week, ANNABEL WILSON gets ON the razz with actor/comedian Louis Tait to talk life, art and funny stuff. They say actors are a funny bunch. Louis Tait is redefining that statement, one show at a time. Louis has been on the Wellington stage scene for a while now. Creative to the core, his repertoire shows he can be both serious and subversive. He recently played the complicated colonialist Mr Beamish in Te Rakau‘s seminal Dog and Bone (the second in the underTOW quartet of theatre-marae plays written by Helen Pearse-Otene; directed by Jim Moriarty). A regular on the stand-up circuit, Louis is also a semi-finalist in Wellington’s Raw Comedy Quest – the annual series which build up to the crowning of the capital’s hottest new comedian. To find out what makes him tick, I gave him a mild interrogation after catching the Raw Comedy Quest at San Francisco Bath House.

Why comedy? How does this genre serve you?

I have been doing comedy for a year and a bit, so I am new to it. Acting is my main thing. But being funny is something I like doing as a person and I like playing funny roles. When I’m doing stand up, there’s an element of acting to that as well.

So acting is your first love. And you are an actor, so you’re living the dream. How’s that working out for you?

It’s ok, there’s not a lot of money… sometimes I garden for my director. So that’s good too I suppose.

Your director as in Jim Moriarty?

Jim Moriarty. Amazing guy. Prolific, OBE, theatre giant. Worked as a psychiatric nurse for 30 years, works in prisons, works with Women’s Refuge… Also I must say, his partner Helen Pearse-Otene (who wrote Dog and Bone and many other works) is the intellectual force that forms the rock beneath Te Rakau.

In the web series NZ Idle, you play a struggling artist on the dole. Are there any similarities between you and Bam?

Bam is genuine and naïve and he likes people… In a way I would like to be like Bam, and in a way I kind of am, but I don’t think I’m as naïve or as innocent as Bam. But I was, once.

New Zealand humour is hot right now on a global scale. Our self-deprecation seems to be striking a chord internationally. Why do you think this is happening?

Yeah, look at Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement – big movie stars. I think for a long time a lot of comedians have been self-deprecating. It’s quite a classic trope. With self-deprecation you can talk about larger societal issues. So I think that is very appealing to people.

The byline for the upcoming NZ International Comedy Fest is ‘Laughing Matters’ What does this mean to you?

Laughing matters because it unites people and breaks down barriers.

What are you most looking forward to about the upcoming NZ Comedy Festival?

The gossip that will ensue during and after the shows.

If we raided your fridge tonight, what would we find?

Tasty cheese, eggs, olive oil, hot sauce and garlic. I live on that stuff. And it’s all good for you.

What wakes you up in the middle of the night?


Do you sleep in a hammock or something?

I like sleeping with my windows open. I like to have fresh air.

If you were going to perform a miracle, what would you do?

Well, I like Jesus’ miracle, turning water into wine.

Yep, that’s a good one. Which living person do you most admire?

The people I admire are the people who do this art thing and keep going, keep pushing even though there are hurdles and it’s difficult. People doing it for the love of it, not the glory. And Bill Murray.

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?

To stay cool, calm and collected and laugh in the face of adversity.

Define creativity in five words or less.

Imagination turned into something tangible.

Favourite ‘Greatest Hits’ album?

Rolling Stones.

Quite. Who are your dream dinner party guests?

Oh, that’s hard. Christopher Walken, Bill Murray, Stanley Kubrick… interesting guy.

So, would you talk about A Clockwork Orange?

I’d like to talk about Eyes Wide Shut. I think it’s a really under-appreciated movie. I’m into symbols and secrets, and there are a lot of codes in that film.

Did you study film when you were at Vic?

No. I just finished last year. I studied International Relations, Political Science.

That’s kind of different from your current vocation.

Kind of, and kind of not. My last essay was on the theatre of politics. The first line was something like “It has been said that ‘politics is theatre for ugly people’…” Go to Question Time, and it’s very theatrical.

In what way can theatre be a vehicle for politics? Do you think it can be or it should be?

I think it certainly is. For example, in New Zealand, Jim Moriarty’s work.

What do you like best about Wellington?

Its village-like qualities.

What are you reading/watching/listening to at the moment?

The Luminaries / House of Cards / Concert FM.

The best thing about Friday is…

Heavy drinking.

So, what’s ON for autumn?

Beautiful colours. Today I was sitting at my flat, and I noticed the trees are changing colour. So that’s nice.


Catch Louis Tait in the semi-finals of the Raw Comedy Quest next Thursday at San Francisco Bath House. He’s also in the Kiwi Comedy Coalition performing May 3 – 7 as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival.

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