A Filipino-Kiwi comedian’s phenomenal rise to fame and popularity in the entertainment industry.
“I was born in and grew up in Christchurch. My parents were born in the Philippines and they migrated to New Zealand.”
CHRISTCHURCH – David Correos is a New Zealand born Filipino whose meteoric rise in the comedy scene is nothing short of phenomenal. He was crowned the new king of Filipino observational comedy in 2017. That honour was previously bestowed on James Roque – the first Filipino to make a name for himself in the comedy scene in New Zealand.
One of the highlights of Correos’ career was when he received the prestigious Billy T James Award in 2016 – an annual award for the best ‘newcomer’ in the comedy scene. “So, winning the ‘Billy T Award’ was one of the coolest things to happen in my life,” he admitted when he hosted a compelling TV3 documentary on diversity titled ‘Both Worlds’.
Over the last couple of years he has been perfecting his craft. Correos admits that for a while his show was high energy, nonsensical, manic and silly. “I just love taking my clothes off and freaking people out in the audience. I find that so funny. But do I keep being the silly man or start telling stories?
“I decided that I was going to write some new material that was all going to be story based and hopefully would be the kind of jokes that even my parents could enjoy.”
The reinvented Correos put on a show in Christchurch in 2016 that focused on ‘the culture clash’ he had as a Filipino growing up in New Zealand.
His mum confidently invited all her friends to the event. Her verdict: “I’m glad you don’t get naked at shows … You don’t embarrass me anymore.”
In an interview with ‘Kabayan News’ (now titled ‘Pinoy NZ Life’ www.pinoynzlife.nz) he talked at length about the making of a comedian.
He attended a two year drama course at Hagley College as he wanted to be in musical theatre, but was advised against it. Then he applied at a broadcasting school and got denied. “Everything else failed and I was desperate to do something,” he said. He wanted to be a chef, only to be told by his career adviser that he would fare better as a TV presenter.
He couldn’t figure out what he wanted to do. But with the assistance of a director he did a monologue and ended up enjoying it. “Everyone loved me and everyone was enjoying themselves,” he said. People went up to him to say that he did well – that is where he planted the seed for his career.
Hagley taught him the basics of theatre: dance, voice, script reading and acting on stage. However, he did not fall in love with acting. Only after leaving Hagley did he find his passion – making people laugh and making a connection with the audience.
“Everything I am good at is because I get obsessed with it,” he explained. “And when I am obsessed with something I do my homework and go much further,” he said.
‘Monday Night Magic’ was where it all started for David after a friend invited him to join this variety show. The show was made by performers in Christchurch after the earthquake when there were no venues and no performances in the broken city. According to David, the variety show was an awesome environment to grow up around – where he performed with people he had watched his whole life.
When David moved to Auckland in 2014, he felt like he was a small fish in a big pond. He found it very challenging. He took a risk to move there and realised that he was surrounded by performers better than him, but he wanted to get to the next level in his career. He knew he was funny, but he was missing something in his repertoire. He felt that he had to work hard to be good as everyone else. It was his wake up call.
“I do not make money from doing comedy shows,” he said. “I am not a full time stand up comedian. So I had part time jobs and was coaching weight lifting for a while.”
The next step in his career was the journey to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017. The festival has been around for 79 years and it was created by people who were sick of going to Shakespearean plays or watching the opera and who wanted to see something else. David’s manager thought that it would be a good move.
“Edinburgh was like a boot camp,” said Correos. “In New Zealand I can do a comedy gig two or three times a week and that is considered busy. In Edinburgh I did gigs three times a night. And after doing comedy gigs three times a night for a month you get to be good. Really, really good,” he explained.
“Comedy isn’t luck, it’s a skill – you have to work hard at it. What was great was that every gig I presented was a new challenge – something fresh.
“At Edinburgh I saw some insane things done on stage. Very inspiring. I watched a show where a comedian, who after managing to make his audience comfortable, got the audience members to admit that they cheated on their partners. You can imagine how intense it was to watch that. It was mind blowing that all this was possible and to see how silly you could be on stage. That was what I needed to see.”
David said that his confidence level is rising as he gets to know his audiences. But he added that every country has a different sense of humour and that shocks him. For instance, in New Zealand audiences want performers to be self-deprecating. They want you to make fun of yourself and then you can say whatever you want as long as it is not too arrogant; that is acceptable.
Whereas in the UK, as people pay to see you, they want you to be worth the money they paid for. So if a performer goes on stage and is self-deprecating, they’d say that performer is not that good. David remembered a guy saying to him during his performance: “Bring in the next one.”
“If you don’t believe in yourself people will not believe in you,” said Correos. He had the worst gig of his life in Edinburgh because he went on stage unsure of himself. He felt scared. The audience felt that, people insulted him and he was booed off the stage.
“Everyone I spoke to in New Zealand said that Edinburgh was really hard but somehow I managed to do 48 gigs there – Monday to Sunday.” He accepted the fact that of the 48 gigs, 25 went bad and puts it down to a learning experience. Fortunately there were extreme highs and extreme lows – at one gig he got a standing ovation.
Correos has proven time and again that he has staying power. He returned to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2018 with a brand new show titled ‘The Correos Effect’.
He also presented this revamped show at the Fringe Festivals in Dunedin, Auckland and Adelaide last year.
Look out for his next appearance – at the NZ International Comedy Festival in Auckland from 2-26 May 2019. You can be sure that Correos will have a few new tricks up his sleeve.
Correos has proven time and again that he has staying power. He returned to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2018 with a brand new show titled ‘The Correos Effect’. He also presented this at the Fringe Festivals in Dunedin, Auckland and Adelaide last year.
A few surprises for his fans in 2019. As one commentator observed: “Putting his body on the line for your entertainment takes its toll, what the hell happened?” Well, Correos has shed a lot of weight. The curtain rises to reveal a slimmer and more dashing personality on stage, who is moving things up a notch with a completely revamped show aptly titled: ‘Better than I was the last time’.
He appeared at the NZ International Comedy Festival in Auckland from 22-25 May 2019.
And by the way, Correos is returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – the Holy Grail of Comedy – for the third time in August this year. You can be sure that he will have a few new tricks up his sleeve to blow the minds of British audiences and completely erase the memory of a somewhat jaded response to his first appearance there. Good luck!