Laughing out of Lockdown
Joe Daymond doesn’t know where he’d be right now if it wasn’t for comedy, and quite frankly, he doesn’t want to know.
“As dramatic as it may sound, I would say it saved my life.”
Hailing from Wainuiomata but now based in Auckland, The Māori-Fijian Kiwi spent his post-school days bouncing between jobs, not seeking his true purpose. Daymond finally decided to take the leap of faith and make people laugh for a living, standing out with stand up and creating a hilarious collection of alter-egos for his blossoming online platforms. A key step was leaving behind the things and the people that once dragged him down.
“I’ve got something actually really cool here that I want to do with my day. If you’re not adding anything to it, then I don’t really have time for you.
“I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve preached to my younger brothers, finding (your) passion. Finding my passion absolutely changed and saved my life.”
Making the most of a pandemic
Three years later and Daymond is seeing his passion ignited more than ever. In what he can only describe as ‘an amazing year,’ Daymond puts his recent surge of success down to plenty of hard work, a bit of luck, a global pandemic and the power of social media.
“I was very lucky that the epitome of a few years' work eventuated in a period where everybody was forced to be active on social media.”
Over New Zealand’s first COVID-19 lockdown in March, Daymond began to post more frequently on his Instagram and Facebook pages, gaining more attention and of course, more laughs. But it was the explosion of the new app-trend TikTok which spiked his fan count above and beyond what Daymond ever expected. Daymond credits his brother for “finally being useful for once,” helping him discover the globally addictive app.
“I just saw he was always on it. Instagram was always the one I was focussing on, but I was talking to him and I was like ‘Bro, you’re always on TikTok, do you or any of your mates use Instagram much?’ He was like ‘Nah, I think the people that use Instagram are the ones that post heaps of pictures.’ That was sort of the epiphany for me, I thought maybe I should just try and give it a go.
“It’s such a stupid app,” Daymond laughs.
Daymond’s videos pretending to Facetime Jacinda Ardern seeking advice in lockdown have amassed over one million views, tallying over 70-thousand followers on the ‘stupid’ app in the process.
“I was growing pretty steadily, I was pretty happy with how I was going before TikTok, but it just seemed to supercharge it all.”
Daymond's casual delivery, genuine warmth and knack for relatable, relevant content has proven to be a popular mix. He quickly pounced on the opportunity to perform live shows as the New Zealand public found freedom at Alert Level One, touring the country and announcing two shows at Auckland’s SkyCity Theatre. The fanbase responded zealously, with Daymond becoming the youngest comedian to sell out the venue (a feat achieved for both shows).
Daymond was riding the high of making laughter for a living, until the second wave of COVID hit, another roadblock for the young kiwi making serious traction.
“I can’t imagine how other people who have lost their jobs are feeling, because it’s been really, really tough for me. It wasn’t Corona[virus] throwing off my initial goals, I was really lucky to get through those. But not being able to move onto the next thing is what had me stumped.”
But Daymond’s determination has got him through the other side, and he certainly hasn’t lost sight of his plans as life gradually returns to normality. Following in the footsteps of Brett McKenzie and Jermaine Clement, Rhys Darby and many more iconic Kiwi comedians, Daymond’s hoping his future lies in film.
“My life goal and the thing I’ll work towards fo the rest of my life is being a film writer and director, that’s pretty much everything I focus on. Stand up will always be there for me, it’s quite a blessing that it’s at a point that I can build on it from where it is.”
Building on his comedic prowess is exactly what Daymond will be doing in the upcoming Summer season, bringing his trademark infectious charisma to the public as the New Year ticks over.
“I think I’ll end up at a festival or two, maybe hosting a few stages.
"Don’t be surprised if you see me sell out a stage at R&V with my ass out and my top off, dropping a few one-liners here and there.”
Don't be afraid
This rising star of Kiwi comedy has a simple message to those wanting to break the shackles of stereotypes cast upon those wanting to pursue a career with personal purpose.
“Don’t be afraid to ask what for you’re worth when it comes to following your passion, and following your art.
“What we’re doing isn’t particularly viewed by people around us because of tall poppy [syndrome], we don’t see the value that we’re bringing to people, and so we don’t ask for that value when we bring it.
“It’s a thing we need to practice more and more because so many of us have the ability to turn our passion into our career but that’s the one thing that stops it and it’s the easiest thing.”