Writing stand up comedy – the process (3)…


The last part of Oliver Phommavanh’s insights on stand up comedy… He teaches, he writes, he makes us laugh..and he’s got this thing for carebears – I forgot to ask him about that…

Do you practice your delivery in front of the mirror/friends/your cat/dog?

I don’t rehearse it like a performance, though I do like to write out every joke and cram every night like my gig was a HSC exam. I’m such a nerd! It’s hard to practice your timing and delivery until you’re actually on stage, in front of a crowd. This only increases the pressure. I drink a can of red bull, just to calm myself.

One thing I’m dying to know – what’s the longest gig you’ve ever performed and how did you remember all the material?

I’m just starting to do a lot more 20 minute gigs. Sometimes it feels like 20 hours. It’s a challenge. I remember like it was yesterday that I was doing 5 minute spots. Oh wait, that was yesterday. I still do a lot of open mike spots to try new material. 3 years in and I’ve come up with about 25 minutes of solid gold jokes. This comes from hundreds of gigs where you’re panning through dirt and mud. I’m happy to slowly make my way up the comedy ladder. Writing is my first love but it’s my goal to make it as a stand up comedian and earn tens and tens of dollars (no seriously).

What inspires you?

I’m lucky to be surrounded by loving friends, writers and family. They keep me going on this writing journey. I love listening to other comics and authors to motivate me. Reading great books recharges the batteries too. But mostly it falls back to my audience. When I go into schools to teach, I get a buzz from kids. And it’s not because they’re sticking scissors into power-points, it’s their imagination and creativity, uninhibited by common sense and adulthood. They have so much energy and it reminds me who I’m writing for. It feels awesome when you can bring a smile to their faces.

That said, I know big kids aka adults are going to get a kick out of my book as well. Is it too late for a shameless plug *holds up ‘buy my book in june 2010’ sign* oh wait, this is an email interview.

Thanks Oliver! Please, may I read that sign for you – Thai-riffic! will be published by Penguin in June 2010.