Nick Di Paolo Promised Controversy With His New Special…and Delivered, But What the Hell Are We Talking About?

Ooops Nick did it again.

Nick Di Paolo has been promoting his new special and fucked himself into some great publicity. Filmed in Cohoes New York, the hour is called “A Breath of Fresh Air,” and it’s full of unwoke, unpopular angles, jokes and thoughts. The special is available on YouTube for free. It has to be because Nick tackles the kind of premises that corporate entities want nothing to do with. Which brings us to Di Paolo’s social media marketing images; he promise to deliver an hour that is “too ‘dangerous’ for Netflix” and “too honest for Comedy Central” and he has no problem living up to that promise throughout the hour.

But the controversy and furor over Di Paolo’s new special started before anyone even heard joke one. Nick started getting gasps and complaints over his marketing materials before the hour even landed on YouTube. The image depicts Nick giving the finger to  his “enemy”, the target of much of his material: those he considers to be overly-woke liberals and snowflake protestors who are angry. Angry in general, angry at white guys in power.  And that’s a controversial image, but that’s not exactly what got Nick trending on social media yesterday.  Social media started talking about Nick en masse because one of the angry protestors pictured is activist Muhiyidin Moye. Moye, 32, was shot and killed last year, and DiPaolo is under attack for using his image to promote the special. Di Paolo said he had no idea, and that he had just used some stock images for his social media marketing posts. And he appeared to agree with complaints that it was inappropriate because he apologized and agreed to change out the image.   “I did not know that as I found it online in stock photos. Looking into changing it as we speak. My apologies,” he Tweeted.

Nick quickly replaced the image, but the anger and in some cases amusement at the bad choice is growing and spreading like viral news tends to do, with articles appearing in The Daily Beast, USA Today, Think Progress, The Blast, Albany Times Union, the Charleston City Paper with headlines likely to continue adding up. Di Paolo even was the #1 trending topic for a bit, and got the now standardized death threats that come with upsetting the social collective. One woman offered $70 for anyone who could bring her Nick Di Paolo’s decapitated head.  No takers so far, the Tweet and the Tweeter, gone from the face of the internet.

If the biggest problem for artists self distributing in 2019 is how to get people to find your art, Nick has figured out first how to solve that problem. Do something stupid. “Controversial content” is no longer enough to get your name in the headlines. In 2019, the fastest way to get attention, even more effective than being controversial, is to make a mistake, and go big. And thanks to Nick’s mistake, Di Paolo’s free special has racked up 125,000 views so far, and it’s only been online for two days.

The hour itself is full of polarizing topics- he talks about why he loves Trump, how Fox News isn’t right enough for him, the real reason he’s against building a wall, and why #metoo goes too far. He backs Louis C.K., jokes about why kids sometimes need to text and drive, and talks about taking up smoking. But none of the intentionally divisive material could have grabbed the kind of attention as a stupid mistake. That’s not to say he isn’t getting heat for his material. He is. But those tweets and jokes are lost in the tidal wave of disapproval over the photo.

It’s Nick’s second time getting into trouble for tweeting an image he didn’t know enough about. Just six months ago, Di Paolo took down a tweet reacting to Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year cover. “Fuck these dumb cunts and their black power salute,” he wrote about the cover which depicted three Parkland shooting survivors, one of whom was a pre-teen. And it was about a year ago when a school shooter joke reportedly led to Nick parting ways with SiriusXM.

But the real take away from Nick, and the state of the business is that you need to do something outrageous, and outrageous in a different way from everyone else to get some attention. If you do, and it hits the right chord, you’re off the races. It would be great to see Nate Bargatze’s new hour trending at number 1 for the strength of his well-written special, The Tennessee Kid, but that isn’t going to happen unless he also hits a dog with a shovel in the back of the head. It would be great to see a wider conversation on social media about Di Paolo’s material and the issues that he talks about (regardless of which side you land on) because that is a more worthy conversation (or at least its a more interesting one) than an extended back and forth about what stock photo someone chose and why.

More often than not, it takes something stupid to get everyone talking. The gotcha moment is currently driving social media, and for better or for worse, social media is what’s driving media. And ultimately, that’s what this story is about.

You can watch Di Paolo’s special “A Breath of Fresh Air” streaming on YouTube, now, and you should. It can’t hurt you.

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