You perform in regularly programmed comedy shows for Comedy Works in Denver. Have you ever traveled abroad for comedy?
I did a show in Iceland a few years ago, which was just an open mic at a bar. But, we were there and I figured I would get some international experience, so I went up and entertained. They speak English at most places there as well. This summer, I went to Belize and did a comedy show in Placencia; I did the show for the bar, so I did an hour worth of comedy. They all spoke English as well, so we didn’t lose anything in translation.
Performing is gratifying in itself, but touring around the world and doing stand-up comedy provides a great level of fulfillment and adventure. Please tell us a little bit about what gave you the idea and avenues to combine travel with comedy?
My wife and I wanted to see the world so we chose countries to explore, and then I looked into how I could do comedy while I was there. I figured if I’m going to do comedy, I should try and figure out if I can do it in different parts of the world, not just where I’m from.
Why do you like to travel? How do you think it’s different when you pursue comedy along with travel, compared to visiting a place as a tourist?
I guess there’s a little more stress involved if you’re working; I think I take comedy too seriously sometimes. If it’s just a vacation, there’s no stress; we don’t have to do anything, we can rest. When there’s comedy involved, then we can’t do anything after noon so I can get ready for the show. Even though performing is a little stressful, I still enjoy the rush of performing; it’s notoriety – you feel good the next day when people notice you. When you’re in a foreign country you don’t know anybody and no one knows you, so it’s fun to be picked out of a group during lunch after the show. Overall, when you pursue comedy along with travel, you don’t really experience everything you should be looking at as far as museums, culture, etc. because you’re worried about entertaining.
As for why I like to travel, I grew up in South Dakota and we didn’t get around much; I’ve been to a few of the states around there, but that’s it. There’s just so much out there. Why not try to experience as much as you can when you can? Who knows if you’re going to be able to do these things a year or two from now? I just want to experience it while I can.
You’ve performed in regularly programmed shows in Denver, and then abroad. How was the experience different, and how did your lineup/bits change?
“Here, there’s more of a familiarity to it. There’s the repetition of performing at the same comedy club three or four dozen times. I know a lot of bits that works here with local references; I live here now and most of the people that come to the show are from this area as well. The references I use here wouldn’t work anywhere, but in Denver. When you go to different countries it’s tough because you’re new there, so you’re not really sure what’ll work. The more you do it and the more experienced you are, the easier it is for you to change directions if something doesn’t work in the middle of a show abroad. If you’re familiar with the area, it’s easier to identify with your audience and when you’re in a different country it’s hard, it’s hit or miss, really.
Opening shows abroad by saying things like ‘I’m a tourist here, this is what we did’ gets the crowd to identify with who I am. When we did the show in Belize, I learned they speak both English and Creole, so I wrote my opening line in Creole and nobody knew what I was saying! I tried it in English thinking ‘some of it’s not gonna translate, but we’ll see what happens’. But, that acted as an icebreaker, a first laugh.”
Do you have any advice for young travelers? And for aspiring comedians who hope to tour in the future?
For young travelers, I would remind them that you never know if you’re ever going to get back there, so experience it while you can. Anything that you might want to do, do it while you’re there. Traveling is expensive! And it’s tougher to plan that stuff as you get older and have more responsibilities.
As for comedians who wish to tour, it’s great to try and see if what you think is funny translates to different cultures or different parts of the world. And some of it doesn’t! The sarcasm that people in America have really doesn’t translate to other countries. For example, when we were in Greece, for our honeymoon, I would make an off-color joke, sarcastically, about something and people would be mortified! They don’t have the same sarcasm that we do here; you really have to tailor your humor to the people that are there.
Something I find funny is that if you want to talk to Americans, leave the country; when you’re here no one talks to each other, but if you’re in a different part of the world, you’ll sit and talk for hours because you’re both from America.