Do Melbourne International Comedy Festival acts adapt their routines for a local audience?

Posted March 27, 2018 08:00:00

How much do touring comedians have to change their jokes for local audiences?

Ahead of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, ABC Radio Mebourne‘s Jon Faine asked a panel of comedians from around the world whether they adapted their material when taking it abroad.

Showko Showfuketei, Japan

Showko performs Rakugo, a traditional form of Japanese comedy that dates back hundreds of years.

Rakugo is a solo act, with the performer telling stories while seated onstage.

“You have stand-up comedy, we have sit-down comedy,” Showko said.

“While we are sitting, and wearing kimono, I am telling you funny stories.”

While traditional Rakugo is performed without props, Showko starts her shows with stand-up and uses puppets during her routines.

She does this, in part, to warm up Western audiences who are unfamiliar with the artform.

“I added my handmade puppets, I do ventriloquism … it’s more visual, more slapstick.”

Loyiso Gola, South Africa

Two-time Emmy nominee Loyiso Gola said he thought human beings were the same the world over.

“I’m not even trying to be all kumbaya,” he said.

“Human beings go through the same stuff, the same emotions, we all go through break-up, heartbreaks.

“We all, for all intents and purposes, have the same needs and wants.”

He said while he might change “a nuance” of the show for a local audience, his material stayed essentially the same.

“I do the same show that I do in South Africa in New York, London, anywhere I go.”

There are, of course, cultural differences from place to place.

“I do find that Melbourne people complain a lot.”

He recalled Melburnians reacting badly to rainy weather when he was last in town.

“It was just a drizzle … You guys were upset.”

George Dimarelos, Australia

Greek-Australian comedian George Dimarelos said one of the differences between Australia and the UK was the word “wog”.

He said he had met British people who were flabbergasted there was an Australian film named Wog Boy.

“We’re very casual about the use of the term ‘wog’, but in other countries that’s actually a horrific racial slur, which it was here once.

“It throws people a bit [when I say], ‘I’m such a wog’, and they’re like, ‘Woah, that is not OK’.”

He said that was not the only racial slur that had made its way into Australian vernacular.

“We also have a cheese called Coon.”

Tune in to ABC Radio Melbourne tonight for Comedy Bites and sample more than 20 comedians performing at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Topics: comedy-humour, carnivals-and-festivals, arts-and-entertainment, radio-broadcasting, human-interest, melbourne-3000

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