Nathan Macintosh: Hauling Bananas

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2019 Moontower Comedy Series

Photo Credit Phil Provencio
Interviewer Valerie Lopez
Article Richard Goodwin

 

In our final Moontower Comedy 2019 series, we have a virgin interview for you. Not that Nathan Macintosh is a virgin (or isn’t, we didn’t ask), but he is among the rare comics that Valerie Lopez had not seen before his performance and interview in Austin this year.

 

From the moment they start talking, Macintosh jumps right into trying to turn the tables, asking as many questions as he answers. It’s a perfect analogue for his style and projects, including the Positive Anger podcast, now in its fourth year; his first album, I Wasn’t Talking, was featured in Exc!aim Magazine’s Top Ten Hilariously Good Comedy Moments of 2015; and To the Point, which debuted in March and went to #1 on iTunes in Canada, and #12 in the US.

There was a time that Canadian comics rarely made appearances in the states. Americans were left to experience their comedy through distinctive and unique mediums like SCTV, which sported its share of both sharp, dry, British-style performances, as well as the larger-than-life antics of explosive stage presence like Martin Short.

It’s 2019, and—while we could argue about the generally negative state of affairs in the world—we are blessed to get a veritable and growing torrent of comics dipping below the Great White North and showing up on our shores. Macintosh made his Austin debut in just such a venue, in the Canadians of Comedy showcase at Moontower this year. He’s a Nova Scotia native, but has spent the past 7 years in New York, which seems to have resulted in just the right kind of culture clash for him to hone his comedic approach and perspective into something equally representative of both sides of the border.

It’s always tricky to describe a performer’s “style”, but with Macintosh I’m going with a mix of Short’s energy, and Bill Burr’s seeming faux-outrage, at the topics he approaches. Positive Anger’s title is a tip of that hat to that attitude, where you can catch Macintosh covering what’s bugging him in current situations or surroundings, somehow managing to seem to be entirely calm and frothing with disdain simultaneously.

It’s a theme that runs through Macintosh’s stage presence as well. When asked about his many late night appearances he jokes, “I don’t want to do anymore. Really. It’s enough.” You can check many of them out at his website NathanMacintosh.com. To see Macintosh, wide-eyed, tossing exclamations of frustration at daily events, while keeping things in check just enough for notoriously reserved TV performances, tells you exactly what you need to know about his talents. As with our interview, he knows how to read the situation, and inject just the right amount of anarchic irreverence to periodically steal the show without stepping on any toes, or over any lines.

At the ripe old age of 10, Macintosh was surrounded by standup at home due to his mother’s love for it, and he already felt he had a set number of career choices ahead of him. Mom wanted him to be a pharmacist (“What? You’re gonna wear a coat, and look at all the pills you don’t take?), and he had his sights on being a baseball pitcher (“All of those kids were…just good. There’s nothing I could do”) but clearly comedy—one way or another—won out.

Macintosh experimented with comedy in high school, participating in a sketch program, and then right out of the gates of graduation started trying his hand at standup. As for how he developed his—as Valerie calls it, “get off my lawn”—personal style, he claims it came rather naturally. “Just a man on the street with a cigarette? That’s what I should be? Somebody standing outside of a bar yelling ideas of people as they try to get into a cab?” It’s the persona he identifies with, and instead of haunting the streets accosting strangers, brings it on stage…accosting strangers.

“That’s what I should be? somebody standing outside of a bar yelling ideas of people as they try to get into a cab?”
Nathan Macintosh

Working his way from Halifax, to Toronto (“It’s not New York, but it’s the closest thing [Canadians] have”), Macintosh kept building the creds to obtain an artists’ visa that would allow him to take his next chapter to the Big Apple. That meant more standup gigs, performing multiple times in major festivals like Just for Laughs, and getting his own comedy special on The Comedy Network on CTV. 

New York is a tough city to get going in, but after a couple of years he was making the headway needed to ensure he’d be able to stay long term. Clearly his growing success has proven he’s made the cut. In addition to his standup, albums and podcast, Macintosh has his sights set on having his own talk show. (Apparently, he’s not done doing them.) He’s already hosted the Canadian show  Standup Downtime, a twist on the format of bringing comedians in and interviewing them traditionally. “Instead of just staying in the hotel..I take comedians to places like a museum, and interview them and talk to them,” he describes it, and it seems a perfect match with his knack for dispensing with the traditional rules and being himself.

Up next for Macintosh? He wants to get another album out, and record another special. As the interview draws to a close, his rapid-fire peppering of ideas and potential next steps, including dreams of a bag of kumquats in a large fridge, indicate we’ll be seeing and hearing quite a bit more of him in the future.

As well as, of course, everything that’s bugging him about you people.

Keep up with Nathan Macintosh’s many, many projects, appearances, and opinions, at NathanMacintosh.com!

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Nathan Macintosh

Valerie Lopez

Richard Goodwin

Comedy Wham

 

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