Far from his loudmouth, brash alter-ego Cunny, we sat down with comedian/ YouTuber Josh Wade to discuss social media, developing characters and using comedy to heal.
Could you, for the dozen or so people who aren’t yet initiated, explain who Cunny is?
Well his full name is Cuntorious Johnson IV and he is fourth-generation aristocrat. I guess the best way to describe him is if Mr. Bean wore hi-vis and said the C-word a lot. That’s who he is.
He seems to get himself into these situations and says these things that sound quite vulgar, but are actually quite profound. There’s a speck of wisdom somewhere in him.
How did you go about creating the character of Cunny?
I grew up in Townsville, which is where the character's from. Growing up there, I was the kid that did drama class, I was everything but a bloke. So, I found myself in these situations where I created this alter-ego that I could switch on when I needed to.
So I’d be doing drama classes at school, but then at lunchtime I’d be out with the footy kids on the oval. Then when I realised I really had it down pat I decided to ramp it up a bit and it became a character.
How much of Cunny do you see in yourself?
That’s a great question. I was shooting a Cunny video the other day and the director looked at me and said: “I’m not sure where you end and Cunny starts”. We don’t have very similar interests. I’ve got this inner bogan in me but it's two, different people. I highly doubt Cunny would be into politics or conspiracy theories or spirituality. He’s kinda the ying to my yang.
You have this massive following online; how does it feel to be able to reach so many people with one Facebook post or YouTube video?
It's horrifying. I guess what happened was I won the lottery. I quit my job and decided this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to use social media as my store front and sell tickets that way. I knew it was going to work, but I didn’t know this is the way it was going to turn out.
It’s a little bit scary. My mental health has gone up and down over the last couple years trying to disconnect from that. I don’t work 9 to 5, but I’m always connected to it, the shop is always open. I’ve been able to bypass the traditional stand-up comedy path of slogging it out for ten years before someone notices you. It’s just like jumping in the deep end, which has been great but it also means I’ve had to learn really quickly. I’m still learning today.
Your show sometimes includes some pretty heavy topics: alcohol abuse, spousal abuse. How do you approach these topics in the context of comedy?
Well, I’ve experienced these things personally. I’ve been through sexual abuse; I grew up with alcoholics and domestic violence. I’ve been surrounded by it all. I know the whole story, so I never go into it thinking I don’t know how to approach it.
This has been my experience with it and for me comedy has always been about, if you can get to a point where you can laugh at something then that’s the only way to know that you’ve really passed it. It’s a thing you can look at in a different light. I approach these topics in quite a vulgar, harsh way because it interrupts people's thinking.
Then if I can insert the message underneath the vulgarity, most people get it. I say most because you would not believe the amount of people that think this alcoholic druggo has scripted this, filmed it, edited it and found a way to run a business online. It’s incredible.
Can you tell everybody in three sentences why they absolutely need to see 'Me Myself And Cunny' in 2017?
We all know an Australian bloke that drinks alcohol and swears a bunch and seems a bit off, but they all have a story. Sometimes all you have to do is remove the rust to get to the shiny metal. That is who Cunny is and that’s why you need to hear his story.
Josh Wade Shows23-28 Feb - Adelaide Fringe
7-15 Apr - Melbourne International Comedy Festival
17-21 May - Sydney Comedy Festival