JOE “MR D” DOMBROWSKI Loving the haters

Inspiring, all-round good human Joe Dombrowski is currently on tour in Australia with a collection of classroom anecdotes in his stand-up show Outdoor Recess, due to hit Perth’s Comedy Lounge next Tuesday, December 10
. He’s witty, cheeky, and a whole lot of wonderful. JADE SCHRANDT had a chat with the loveable ex-teacher, who’s transitioned from the classroom to full-time comedy, to talk about who he is, what he’s doing, and where he’s going.  

You were a comedian before teaching, and then continued comedy while teaching to produce additional income, is that correct?

Yes, correct. It was my second job because teachers in America are severely underpaid, like under anything that is even worth living on, so I was doing comedy as my second job. It was kind of necessary to even put gas in my car some days, and do a couple of other things beyond that. It was how I tried to survive, by doing both.

Now that you’ve transitioned to comedy full-time, is your focus going to remain on school-related topics, or are you going to begin integrating other themes?

Well, comedy is about your life and really where it’s at, and what’s currently happening in that state. So, when I first wrote this show I was still in the classroom, and I was just pulling inspiration from that because that’s where a lot of my focus was, which is where the nature of Outdoor Recess even came from. I have noticed as I do more sets, and as I am writing my second show now, it has to do more with my life as an adult and my relationship with parents, with my partner, transitioning away from teaching and what that was like, and all of those introspective things. You see the world differently as a comedian, right? So, I feel like my comedy will continue to evolve as I go along. Fingers crossed I am engaged by the time this article comes out, we’ll see – but that would be another thing I would be writing about, family life and all the curveballs that life throws at you.

I know that you mostly receive positive support, but there are some negative vibes out there. How are you handling the negative aspects of your growing fame?

Oh, haters make me famous! (Laughs). I don’t feed into it. I don’t want it by any means, but if you don’t have anything good to say about me make sure you write it in ink so everyone can know my name. I encourage it, y’know, as long as you’re talking about me, I’m happy. I mean, why waste my time focusing on someone who is obviously living in a negative state of being, right? So, you know my name, you know who I am and you are letting others know about me too, so honey I encourage that, go ahead.

I love that, what a great view to have! That must have been impactful for you students, that approach to negativity?

Oh, absolutely. I really did try to get that through to them. Drama used to happen like all the time, and I’d always tell them like “Good, let them be jealous, it means you’re doing something right” and they’d be like “Really?” and I’d be like “Yeah.” If you reframe something it changes their mind and perspective, which is what the name of the game really was.

Who’s inspired you most with your comical work?

It’s actually really crazy, Ellen DeGeneres was a huge inspiration to me. When I was in middle school and high school, I would watch her specials over and over, and I would memorise them and tell the jokes to my friends, and we would laugh and then watch the specials together. And then she had me on the show, and it was an actual dream come true, it was totally surreal. She pulled me aside after filming and was like “You’re really funny, you should do something with that.” To hear that from a comedian that I idolised so much, it was something I just couldn’t even wrap my head around it. I was already writing at the time but she had no idea – so it kind of kicked my ass into gear and I sort of went with it. Definitely Ellen was a huge inspiration.

But comedy changes over time, too. Like right now I’m pretty inspired by Sebastian Maniscalco, and Bert Kreischer.  I am a really huge fan of Tommy Little. He and I hit it off on The Project, and I’ve been watching a lot of his work, so I’m glad to say I’m becoming well-versed in Australian comedy as well.

You have this really great podcast, a multitude of viral videos, interviews with Ellen and various other shows, and are now touring with your stand-up show. Is there anything else you want to do with your career?

You know, there’s so much that I want to do, but the biggest thing I want to do is definitely start to go a little more mainstream with what I’m doing. I couldn’t do this without my fans, I know that I have fans globally, and I just really want to produce content for them that they’re really getting something out of.

I can’t really say what I’m working on right now, but there are some huge projects that I’m working on which will be coming out within the next year. Ones I’m very excited about. They’ve been my goals, and on my vision board for almost my entire life, so I am really happy to be bringing those things to fruition. Hopefully people will be into that too, and we will grow, and just keep on growing from there. It’s going to be a doozy, though, just you wait.

What’s on your Spotify playlist at the moment? And what song will always have a place in your top 10?

I’m super inspired by 90s pop. I love Aqua, the Vengaboys, I just love anything with that distinctive beat. I walked on stage to Tectonic, last night. I am really into 90s divas, too – Whitney Houston, absolutely when she was in that era. Early Destiny’s Child, even. That’s where my heart is, it’s nostalgic to me, so they’re always on my playlist.

More than ever, our kids need adults to step up and implement strategies which help them to thrive both academically and socially, to become not only contributing members of society, but ones who are capable of positive changes that benefit humanity as a whole. What do you believe is something that we, as adults, can do to support this?

The biggest thing to realise first of all, is that kids are going to be the ones taking care of us when we can’t look after ourselves anymore. So, what you instil in a child is who they are going to come to be.

Most importantly, I want every kid to be comfortable in their own skin, no matter who they are or where they came from, or how they feel on the inside or look on the outside. I want them to feel how I feel now, confident! That in every single moment of their life from birth to the time they leave this earth, that if we instil the idea that they should be comfortable with who they are, it can only spread to individuals and continue to spread from there. Just love, embrace yourself, and embrace others around you. And if you’re growing into a positive, strong person with a positive mindset, then you will continue to make waves and spread it throughout society.

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