Standup Comedian, Brian Alyward
1. What inspired you to get into standup comedy?
I have always loved stand up. From George Carlin, Bill Hicks and Billy Connolly, to Eddie Murphy, Denis Leary and others – I was in awe of those people. Also, I religiously watched The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Late Show with David Letterman growing up. I grew up in Newfoundland, Canada. The late night comedy shows did not come on the air until 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning. I would stay up each night and watch them. Now, I watch shows such as Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show and Family Guy. These days, my comedic influences are comics such as Louis CK, Doug Stanhope and Stuart Lee.
2. Do you remember your first time on stage?
Yes, of course. It was November 11th, 2005. It was at Rockssins Bar in Anyang. At that time, Rockssins had a popular open mic every second Friday night. Based on the bet I had with my girlfriend at the time (now my wife), I got up on stage and did 14 minutes, even though I only had about 4 minutes of good stuff. The rest was just me ranting and raving. (Brian laughs)
3. What brought you to Korea?
The temples and the kimchi (Brian smirks). No, like many other people, I came here as an ESL teacher. I enjoy the opportunity to teach and I love travelling around Asia.
4. You’ve had some recent big successes in your comedy career. Can we get some details about those?
I was runner-up at the 2008 Hong Kong International Comedy Festival, where there were 22 comics from 8 different countries. Since then, I have been the opening act for a couple of professional standup comedy shows here in Seoul in 2008. This year, in April, I headlined shows in Singapore and did a one man show titled, “Good Evening Vietnam,” in Saigon in May.
On July 18th and August 1st this summer, I got together with Kabinett Wine Bar and we had 2 sold out standup comedy shows, featuring expat comedians from Canada, USA and Scotland. There will be more shows in November. Later this year, I will headline shows in Japan, India and Malaysia.
5. What exactly is Stand-up Seoul?
Stand-up Seoul is Seoul’s 1st English-speaking comedy room. I am the creator and host. I started it back in March of this year. It is held the first Thursday of every month at Rocky Mountain Tavern in Itaewon at 9pm. It is an open mic event. All comedy acts are welcome.
The evolution of expat entertainment continues in Korea and I thought comedy needed to be a part of it. It has become a popular room, with loyal laughers packing the place each month.
6. Are there really many English-speaking comedians here in Korea?
There are not a lot of them. However, there are consistently 10-12 comedians that do their thing. I’m sure there are many people out there, who are like I was in the beginning, just needing that extra push up on stage. I hope to see new faces at Stand-up Seoul each month.
7. What sorts of other creative outlets are there for them?
There is a comedy group named Stand-Up Comedians Korea (SUCK), with a Facebook group. We meet and have comedy workshops from time to time and offer encouragement to one another, especially the newbies. We’ve had a couple of successful stand up shows in Hongdae and Daegu this year.
There are also plenty of English-speaking open mics in Korea. A few around Seoul include Seoul Artist Network (SAN) open mic at Woodstock Bar in Itaewon, which is the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month at 7:30pm. There is a spoken word/stand-up comedy open mic at Aussie Grub n Grog (aka. “Tony”) on Wednesday nights at 8pm in Haebangchon. Others include Reggae Pub in Itaewon, Thursdays at 9pm, and Dublin Bar in Bundang, Wednesdays at 9pm.
8. What other events are you involved with?
I’ll step up to any microphone for the comedy cause. I host several open mics and MC at many live music venues and charities throughout the city. Whenever I’m asked to do something on the mic, I usually try to make it happen.
9. What are some of your future plans, both for Stand-up Seoul and personally?
I plan to pursue comedy professionally upon returning home to Canada next year. I am in talks now to be in a prestigious comedy festival back in Canada next summer. I will return home permanently to Canada in December, 2010. My wife and I will buy a house, get a fence, paint it white, start a family, buy a dog and buy it a sweater. Busy times man.
There is a possibility of an Asian comedy tour next year with a crew of comics from other places like Singapore and Hong Kong. We are in talks with sponsors right now. Before leaving Korea next December, I also want to record a live DVD here in Seoul.
I am also looking to promote for Stand-up Seoul more, perhaps by getting some sponsors for that as well. Ultimately, I would like to promote stand up shows every 3 months, bringing in top international acts. I have several well known comedians now who are willing to come and we’re discussing sponsorship of rooms and airline tickets with everyone we can. The biggest obstacle remains airfare. Each month there are sold out stand-up shows in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, India and Malaysia. I want to see Seoul to join this comedy circuit in the very near future. As a comedian and ESL teacher, I believe comedy is a great way to celebrate our cultural differences and learn with laughter.
10. Any advice for aspiring comedians?
Email me NOW! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can add me on Facebook. Also, people can join the Stand-up Seoul Facebook group for information on shows, videos, pictures and updates.