Sam Kissajukian has led an interesting life, a series of wacky events leading him from ambitious traveller to real ‘stand-up’ guy. The comic, spurred on by those around him, first stepped on stage three years ago. Telling of his experiences with animals, his stories of danger and curiosity quickly gained traction in Sydney’s comedy circuit.
From that first stage experience to today, Kissajukian regularly performs stand-up, long-form storytelling, and emcee work in Sydney. The comic, along with hosting two weekly comedy shows Live Baha and POS Comedy, is an essential part of Laugh Mob Entertainment. He, teaming up with fellow comics Ruven Govender and Kyle Legacy, is fast becoming a staple of Australian and world stand-up.
Kissajukian, fresh off the Melbourne Comedy Festival, Sydney Comedy Festival, and Edinburgh Fringe, is back in Perth for Fringe World 2016. His latest one-man show, Animals Attack Me, tells of life-threatening run-ins with Mother Nature’s most dangerous creations including Sharks, baboons, log-throwing chimpanzees, mountain lions, and the most fearsome of all – ex-girlfriends. This month, Kissajukian delivers seven nights of big laughs and valuable lessons for audience members great and small.
Reshoot & Rewind caught up with Kissajukin about his new show, burgeoning career, and awkward encounters with the animal kingdom.
When did you realise you wanted to do comedy as a career?
That was actually after I started doing comedy, and fell into it accidentally. The show that i do is about being attacked by a lot of animals, so before I did comedy i was 27 and over the last 10 years I’ve been travelling and going on adventures. Just before I turned 27, we went to a storytelling competition, my girlfriend and I. Someone had dropped out, and she goes: “No, you should go in it, you should go in it”. The organizer was then like: “yeah we can put one more on”.
I went up and told a story about the time I got chased by a baboon with a machete and another time I got attacked by two sharks whilst spear fishing. I ended up coming second in the competition and then people invited me to do other storytelling nights. Then some said I should do stand up comedy and I started doing stand up and after I did that I thought: “This is great, I should just tell stories about my life”, and now it’s three years later and what I do for a living.
After your first few times on-stage, did you immediately adapt to it or did it get easier over time?
When I first started I started telling animal attack stories and that was great. Then I thought in stand-up comedy you’ve got to tell jokes, so I started writing jokes and went badly for a couple and then I got the hang of it. For the last two and a half years, it’s been pretty steadily increasing I definitely feel like I was more naturally a storyteller than a joke writer so its natural. I like telling long stories to pull people in, but now I do both – I do the stand-up comedy clubs and personal story shows.
What are your most alarming experiences in stand-up comedy?
I’ve had some great ones, one time I did a show, the audience didn’t like me, and I said: “If you guys don’t like me, I’m just going to subject you to dad jokes”. A woman yelled out: “No need, mate. You are your dad’s joke”. I thought that wa a fantastic heckle.
I had one that was very unfortunate, because it almost hurt me. It was in Newcastle, and the audience didn’t like me. I may have made a comment that the audience didn’t like and a woman at the back of the audience threw a bottle at me while I was on stage. It ended up being in the newspaper and became a bit of a hoo-hah, it was quite funny. Lucky it didn’t hit me. It still had beer in it, she threw a full beer at me.
You have toured across Australia and the world, how do the varying crowds and comedy atmospheres compare?
I spent a month in Edinburgh last year, I think it depends on the local audiences. Scottish people are so funny, they really are so funny and they’re so vocal and outspoken. I got a lot of heckles when I was in Scotland but they were great heckles. They were just so on point, so funny, and the Scottish people in general were just up for a laugh. There is just a real, fun drunk energy.
In another way, in somewhere like Hong Kong, that’s really interesting too because it’s such an international city. You get people who are expats, so I found that in Hong Kong it was like the comedians that did very well there spoke a lot about different races and sub-cultures in that respect. That seems to be the focus, somewhere like the Melbourne Comedy Festival that type of comedy doesn’t seem to as prevalent.
How do yourself, Ruven Govender, and Kyle Legacy work together so well?
Comedy is just a lonely game, at the end of the day you’re an island and doing a lot of work alone and performing alone. We just decided that we would have a collective of guys working towards the same goal. We work on project individually but then, at the same time, we do a lot of stuff together. It help work on larger projects that you might not be able to do alone.
We are all very different people and we wouldn’t naturally, possibly be friends outside of comedy. I don’t know how I would have met these guys outside of comedy and, because we are so different, every situation we get into we find we have completely different perspectives on it and we really enjoy those differences. At the end of the day, they’re just good friends and I enjoy watching them succeed or fail on stage.
What can we expect from your latest show, Animals Attack Me?
I’m delivering about 1o true stories about animal encounters. They are 100% true and I have just spent the last three years honing my craft so that I can tell them in the funniest way possible. I want to make these stories accessible and people that are interested in animals or had some animal experience themselves, there would be time to chat about that. I think everyone has a few in some regards to wild animals and I just want to dwell on the topic and open it up a little bit.
Sam Kissajukian’s Animals Attack Me is on at the Elephant & Wheelbarrrow, Northbridge from February 15th – 21st.
Photo Credits: samkissajukian.com, eveleighcomedy.com