Fringe World Interview: Ruven Govender of Comedy Boxing


South African-Indian comedian Ruven Govender is crafting a strong, influential career in stand-up comedy. The comic kicked off his career from an early age, sneaking in to comedy clubs at 16 and 17 years of age before finally being allowed in through the front door. His love of stand-up blossomed, graduating from the Class Comedians program with enough confidence and support to succeed. By 21, he had written and performed 5 shows for the NZ Comedy Festival.

Along with touring solo throughout Australia and the world, invited to TED X last year amongst many phenomenal successes throughout his career, Govender runs Laugh Mob Entertainment with tour mates/co-stars Sam Kissajukian and Kyle Legacy. After hit show The Black, The White, The Beard, Govender and co. return to Perth’s Fringe World 2016 with Comedy Boxing. Govender referees as Kissajukian and Legacy go head to head in a battle of scathing insults. The show puts the ‘punch’ back into ‘punchline’ over several nights of colourful, unique Fringe mayhem.

Reshoot & Rewind recently caught up with Govender about Comedy Boxing, life on the road, and the comedy’s scene’s welcoming aura.

 

9657547How did you first get into stand-up comedy? 

I got selected by the New Zealand Comedy Festival in 2004 through the Class Comedians program. The first gig I thought went horribly but I actually got signed to an agency after my first ever spot in the town hall. Charlie Pickering, the guy who used to be on the 7pm Project, he was actually my mentor and helped me write my first set and get my jokes out.

I got on stage, delivered my lines, and got these massive laughs straight away. I did the first few lines, got big laughs, and got really nervous because I didn’t expect such a wave of laughter. Then, I just forgot everything that I was supposed to say within the first 30 seconds. I then ran off stage and threw up. Everyone was like: “ok, that’s the end of that” and thought I had to get back on to finish my set and save face.

I got some really good gigs to begin with, but the age factor really caught up quickly. It was a challenge to be 16-17 and try to get into a comedy bar, and obviously wasn’t 18 years of age. That actually proved to be a huge problem, but once I was able to walk into pubs, bars, and clubs that’s when things really started to kick.

 

What have been some of the highlights and lowlights of performing on stage?

Last year, I was invited to speak at TED X. That was fantastic, it was 1000 people in an auditorium and an absolutely great gig, that was probably the highlight of last year I’d say.

A low point would probably include when I ventured out of New Zealand, which is a nice, little environment for stand-up, and into a market where I wasn’t well know, didn’t have connections, and didn’t have the backing of the New Zealand festivals. That was when I really got a taste of what it’s like to really do stand-up – hustle for gigs, having to beg, steal and borrow for stage time. That’s when I really got to understand how difficult it can be for comedy, because apart from that everything was kind of handed to me on a silver platter.

Coming into a market where nobody knew my name and no one was willing to really help me that was a big challenge. It’s a necessary evil to get me to start my own rooms, get a set-up, and hold hands with other comedians and local people.

 

Yourself, Sam Kissajukian, and Kyle Legacy run Laugh Mob Entertainment and perform together, how did you first realise your dynamic worked so well?

I actually found Kyle Legacy at a comedy club, I just found him to be a very funny human. I was surprised because I thought: “You’re very funny, you’re English etc.”, but he wasn’t getting any stage time. I saw him at a few clubs, he wasn’t going well, and I had a chat with him about what he’d done, where he’d been. I found out he was a writer for Russell Brand, he was on season 1 of Brand X and junior writer for Brand in that season.

As we did the rounds of the open-mic rooms I bumped into Sam. Was very much anti-working with anyone else, he didn’t want to work with anyone else, and wanted to his own thing. Myself and Kyle thought he was really funny, had a lot of doubts, was very intelligent. He had started comedy after us but got very good very quickly, and I thought: “This guy is definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with”. We started to gig more, wore him down a little bit, and morphed into us three working as a very well-oiled, comedic trio.

 

What can you tell us about your latest Fringe world show, Comedy Boxing?

4790497Comedy Boxing is probably one of the most hilarious, ridiculous shows I have ever seen. Part of running our own agency is, Laugh Mob, is having the creative freedom to do these really wacky shows. If we were assigned to one of the other agencies, we probably wouldn’t have as much creative freedom. The show is basically Sam and Kyle full-on insulting each other in a structured format, which is the best thing. It’s pretty much the ‘why’ of Fringe and it’s just entertaining watching them insult each other.

Now, we have managed to put that format into a structure that everyone can enjoy. The biggest part of the stand-up is making it contextual to the crowd, generally, if people thought they were up there just insulting each other, people would think they weren’t friends and didn’t actually like each other. It’s quite the opposite, all three of us are best friends, and now Comedy Boxing has allowed a format that contextualises that for the audience and that’s why it’s so funny.

 

Diversity in mainstream media has been in the spotlight recently, where do you see this conversation going over the next year?

You’ve got key people that are really pushing for that, people like Kevin Hart – you’ve got people touring and working a lot harder at these things to breach those barriers. I think the non-white market for comedy is ready to explode and ripe for the picking. Seeing people like Kevin Hart, to me personally, is a massive inspiration. Seeing a short, black man go out there and do it and everyone love him gives me enough confidence to think that there is a market for it.

I feel I have a lot of this advantage in the comedy scene – people want to laugh at the racial stuff and when I get up there, whether I want to make fun of Indians or Africans whomever it may be, being South African I feel I may have the range to do that. Having that generally separates me from the crowd, when you go to a comedy club 99% of time it’s single, middle-class white guys complaining about stuff. The more diversity that you add to that I think separates you from the pack and elevates you from the crowd.

 

Comedy Boxing hits The Hidden Bar, Northbridge for Perth’s Fringe World 2016 from February 12th – 21st.

Photo credits: YouTube, Laugh Mob Entertainment

Fringe World Interview: Sam Kissajukian of Animals Attack Me


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.

download

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.

tumblr_inline_niei44lLdn1t4dk12

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

Comedy Review: Colin Ebsworth: Neato Burrito @ DeLuxe


Perth comedian Colin Ebsworth, throughout his burgeoning stand-up career, has had a string of overwhelming experiences. At just 23, he has gone from strength to strength across the country. Delivering his refreshing, in-your-face style of comedy, he returns to Perth’s Fringe World festival – following up sell-out, award nominated shows Western Devil and First Blood: Parts I and II – with his best hour of hilarity yet.

col-eb-photo-by-tom-harfieldPerforming at some of Australia’s biggest stand-up events, and touring with the likes of Claire Hooper, Ebsworth’s enthusiasm and work ethic come off in spades. His latest set hits home; providing a modest, relatable look at early-20s existence.

Opening act Sean Conway, fresh off his latest act Rock ‘N’ Rolla, perfectly got the ball rolling on Neato Burrito’s opening night. Conway, with an impressive beard and bellowing voice, fits the mould of top Aussie bloke. His set revelled in Perth’s don’t-care spirit, poking fun at the never-ending feud between the Eagles and Dockers, Spudshed owner Tony Galati’s trouble with the establishment, and the bogan’s obsession with drugs. Breaking down a stint with steroids, his brief appearance left us wanting more.

Inside Fringe’s Deluxe venue, the audience sweltered in close-knit conditions. Ebsworth stormed onto the stage to thunderous applause from the overwhelming crowd. The comic hit the ground running, launching into self-effacing material about his appearance. Referring to his “Disney villain” face, the friendly, neighbourhood performer pulled the audience into his unique worldview.

Like preceding shows, he called Australia’s bogan-driven culture into question. Ripping apart rat-tails, neck-tattoos, and AFL, his scathing opinions hit the nail on the head. His material ascends to even greater scrutiny, tearing apart the concept of E-Plates on work vehicles for ‘troubled’ drivers. His wrath against Australia delves into very dark waters, highlighting the ridiculousness of our inherent xenophobia and lackadaisical treatment of crime.

Like his preceding Fringe World performances, Ebsworth’s quick wit, rollicking pace, and likeable stage presence stand tall. His observational notes touch on the public’s biggest pet peeves, with vegans, burlesque, pop-up advertisements, and professional DJs are obliterated by the comic’s dark, edgy comments. The audience wandered into the firing line, with the front row chock-a-block with under-18s and half-drunk 40-year-olds.artworks-000064885041-mowt8f-t500x500

Neato Burrito, essentially, resembles a workshop for Ebsworth to test new material, launch into inspired impressions, and gauge audience sensitivity. The light-hearted larrikin immediately picked up the vibe, acknowledging which gags landed better than others. Brushing aside muted reactions and loud heckles; his self-awareness keeps his confidence in check.

Ebsworth’s set provides a unique, heartfelt insight into his professional and personal lives. His routine puts a contemporary twist on relationship material, discussing the varying difficulties of the age gap in the shallow-gossip age. He is aware of their demographic, tearing down everything to do with the first break up, the in-laws, and the relationship’s many perplexing highs and lows. Similarly, his commentary/advice on men and women – gay and straight – rings with a hint of optimism.

Ebsworth reflects upon his childhood and the young-adult phase, aptly describing life in Perth for anyone between 4 and 26 years. From his parents’ yin-yang dynamic to his friends’ unhelpful relationship advice, the comedian’s paints a shockingly relatable and explicit picture of his coming of age. His standout material talked about the bliss of primary school, vividly comparing the classroom politics to gangland warfare and lunchtime in the playground to Shawshank Redemption.

Neato Burrito is one of Fringe World’s gems – an honest, hysterical, and haunting insight into Perth’s best and worst individuals, groups, and cultural touchstones.

Comedy Review: Ben Darsow 2016 @ Elephant & Wheelbarrow


Australian comedian Ben Darsow had a banner 2015, touring his breakout show, Now, before travelling and performing around the USA, UK, and Asia. His stand-up has launched him into the stratosphere, with comedy fans the world over eager for his brand of observational humour and pithy audience interaction. His 2015 Fringe World show sold over 1000 tickets and garnered immaculate critical acclaim.

bendarsowpromoshotHaving toured the Australian comedy circuit for several years, and mega-popular YouTube videos, Darsow’s name is up in lights. Ben Darsow 2016 hits four venues – Elephant & Wheelbarrow, Clancy’s Fish Pub, Comedy Shack, and The Balmoral Backyard – with his sharp comedic style this season.

Kicking off in Northbridge’s prestigious venue, he launched into several jabs about the return to Perth. Delivering an outsider’s perspective, his remarks against the city’s expensive café scene and thirst for fitness rang painfully true. Continuing his funny-because-it’s-true run of gags, the comedian’s anecdote – about a grocery store’s sign for $449 bananas and zero decimal points – sums up the city’s bizarre sense of self.

In true Darsow tradition, the comedian turned to the audience to ask a few modest questions. Chatting to the front row, he chatted heartily with two women about their professions, time in Perth, and the designated driver. His enthusiasm became a significant part of the set, leaping between genuine interest and witty repartee.

Chatting with two miners in the front row, Darsow recalled several baffling stories of his latest tour of the Goldfields. His stories seemed unfathomable, prodding everything from the loneliness of FIFO workers, to Occupational Health and Safety officers, to the mining boom’s impact on Perth prices. Despite forgetting a number of punch lines, his likeability and modesty pushed himself and the audience through.

Darsow’s set became a journey of personal discovery, launching into his professional and personal lives intersecting. His self-deprecating, ironic sense of humour helped him reflect upon his own life story. His stories of New York/Lafayette expenses, a drag queen/bingo night in Sydney, and speeding taxis in Malaysia drew us into the peculiar, unique exploits of a travelling comedian.

The Adelaide comic shared several out-there tales of life on the road and in the fast lane. His anecdotes revealed unique, intricate details about the differences between Australia and the rest of the world. The comedian, paying attention to each gag and response, discussed the success of each joke and anecdote in front of different audiences. His jabs against Ryan Crowley, Jared (the Subway guy), and deaths at Stereosonic elicited a ‘too soon…’ response.

show_page_display.1426490144The comic’s life story rounded out the set, reflecting upon his time as a single, young man. His relatable, self-conscious anecdotes – referring to texting as a single man, the number of sexual partners, awkward dating experiences, and being in long-term relationships – hit close to home for each male crowd member. The climax of the show did not disappoint, with Darsow opening up about several alarming experiences with drugs.

The finale tapped into his wacky side, with Daddy Cool’s Eagle Rock blaring over the speakers. As the audience whooped and cheered, Darsow and another bloke dropped their pants in beer-fuelled celebration, referring to a gag earlier in the set. His latest show is a laugh-out-loud celebration of his highs, lows, and everything in between.

Ben Darsow 2016 is playing across Perth throughout Fringe World – January 22nd to February 21st.

Comedy Review: Michael Workman @ His Majesty’s Theatre


C_Michael_Workman_h_0513_v.d0172cf47fb9262005552e22ca1e8f9d

Review: Michael Workman @ His Majesty’s Theatre

Comedy Review: Luke Heggie @ 720 ABC Laugh Locker


luke_heggie_h_0515.d0172cf47fb9262005552e22ca1e8f9d

Review: Luke Heggie – You’re Not Special

Interview: Rory Lowe


10492151_783015031751797_5231490954714275274_n

Interview: Rory Lowe