You Know Me, I’m a Big Player in the Industry

Here is an ad I did a few months ago for ABB in Finland

Russian Comedy – Day 1

I was greeted at the airport by Igor and we drove across town in his friends Hummer. It was only a H3 but still a fitting introduction to Russia. We drove about an hour across St Petersburg to get to the venue and I realised how big this city is. You can fit 6 of Estonia into just this city. Then I realised how Estonian I am for comparing everything to the size of Estonia.

Igor informed me that tonight was a test night, they havn’t done shows at this restaurant before but they have guys who have come from all over the Soviet Union (I love it when they use that term) for their TV filming on Thursday and we can have a trial tonight. The other comics are cool but don’t speak much English. In fact no one speaks much English but its ok, everyone is warm and nice to me.

Igor and I start to talk about my jokes and it soon becomes apparent I will have to rework my stuff. He is laughing at a few of them but sometimes we need to change how I say the words. Igor is a switched on comedian and can come out with jokes fairly easily. Give him a topic and he has found an angle in it. We decide that I should be writing about Russia, my time here (even though it has been 3 hours at this point) and we find a way to refocus my estonian jokes to say “ah yes in Estonia we are very much like Russia” in an attempt to bond with the audience. I tell him about some of my experiences in Estonia and he tells me what Russian people might find funny. An example of two jokes

1) In Estonian pelmeeni (dumplings) are very common, I cook them all the time, so you can tell I dont have a wife

Schtick? Oh yes. A little sexist? sure. but it seemed funny at the table.

2) For the first year of living in Tallinn I lived in a Kruchovki apartment. The walls were so thin I became friends with my neighbors.. and my neighbors neighbours… and my neighbors neighbors neighbors…. I could also talk to the guy in the apartment above me…. he would just lean down through the hole in the floor.

They didn’t go for the first one but they did like the second one. The second one had more meat to it (no dumping pun intended here) and a small act out. This also correlates to what I saw of the Russian comedians, mostly big men being loud. Made me happy we have Keiu and Janika in Estonia. However gender roles seem different here. I am yet to find out how many female comedians they have.

OK but joke #2 had a second part, a joke Ive been doing for ages where I say “I think Kruschovki apartments should have been named after another Soviet leader… Gorbachev…because they both have dirt on the roof”. They didn’t get this AT ALL. Deathly silence. The original joke says “because they booth have a stain in the ceiling”, I was advised “stain” and “ceiling” were difficult words. Was it the change in wording? Or do history jokes just not work here?

Igor on stage

I also said “I know 4 words in Russian, Dah, Net, Specbia and Sooka (yes, no, thank you and bitch/whore). So the last word gets a cheap laugh. I then continued “I think I could live for a month in St Petersburg just knowing those words (I think the idea of that joke is solid but I didnt deliver it right)… OH and if I learn one more word “comrade” I could become president”.

That last tag was probably not funny and far too subtle for any audience or FSB member present to get.

I had a few chances to improv and they worked well. The crowd were nice and didn’t mind to yell things. My opening joke was about being told this (far out) suburb was the center of St Petersburg and a guy yells “this isnt the center” and then I went on at him for explaining the joke and it was fun, so they did understand me. Then I tell a joke about girls wanting a visa and a guy yelled “but russian women want to stay in Russia”, however he was middle aged, fat, balding and had a blonde drunk bimbo in a short pink dress sitting on his lap “sir, go back to putting your face in her breasts” got a good laugh from the crowd.

I would say the crowd liked easy jokes about Russia and dick jokes. My ended was all dick jokes and that got them back a bit. Also this crowd is very new to stand up, this isn’t their main venue and we are quite far from the center, so it maybe cant be my only barometer. Today I will go and experience St Petersburg and tonight write some new jokes about this town to perform tomorrow.

Igor and Anton are the stars of the show and they improv great. Ive watched a lot of comedy in other languages and you can learn so much even when you don’t understand the jokes. They do a double act and clearly have their shit down, Anton gets on the stage and talks and talks and Igor then drops in with a perfectly timed comment which kills the crowd. I really want to have these guys out to Tallinn and Riga. Ive decided I need to be a comedy promoter who does shows in 3 languages.

Igor and Anton doing their thing on stage

I had some warm reactions after the show, people coming up and thanking me using the few words of English they know, which is sweet. We drove back downtown to the apartment I’m staying in and we stopped at a supermarket to get some breakfast. I went and got some bread and cheese and noticed that all the packets were individually tagged so you cant walk out of the shop with them. For a 1 euro packet of cheese. Ok rough neighborhood. I got excited when I saw one of the packets though.

“Hey Igor, look they have Eesti Juust here!”

Igor gave me a confused look of “what the fuck are you talking about?” and I realized, of course he doesn’t understand it says “Estonian cheese” and Russia has no such language law that everything has to be in Russian too. I guess when your language is as big and dominant as Russian you can afford to have people confused about their diary products.

Second English Speaking Comedian To Perform In Russia

Do you believe it? Well maybe it is down to the word “professional“. See Dylan went there but he is a “professional”. Am I a “professional”? I guess that is a question only my accountant can answer. Either way, I’m going to St Petersburg tomorrow to perform comedy in English and I’m shitting my pants.

I have my visa and plane tickets sorted. The promoters there have been kind enough to fly me and put me up for 3 nights. Tomorrow night I will perform at one of their Russian speaking Stand Up nights for 15 minutes. On Thursday they have some filming they want me to help out with too. Not quite sure what it is but I’m all in, who cares, it will be a blast.

So 15 minutes. Doesn’t sound like much right? But what will I speak to them about? Everyone wants to know if I will do Russian jokes. Well yes but not critical ones. Would you like it if some foreign dickhead came to your country and slagged you off? No. I can make Estonian jokes here because everyone knows me and knows I say it with love but you cant roll in and abuse people. I do have some jokes about Russians which are not anti-Russian though, so I will do them. A story about a young Russian guy being misunderstood in Finnish class. Or that Boris Yelstin quote. Surely they will love that. Do Russians even remember Boris fondly? I sure do.

But what of my other stuff? Will they understand an awkward story about buying condoms? What of one liners? And what of Estonia? Do they even know much about it? What if I make fun of Estonia, what differentiates Estonia to Latvia or Lithuanian or any former Soviet Republic in their minds? Do they want to hear about growing up in Australia? Or does Sergei just want to hear a few dick jokes?

This *could* be the start of a big thing. Bridging east/west comedy relations, opening a door to English comedians to go to Russia and also bringing Russian speaking comedians out here. Jesus I hope I don’t fuck it up.

Al Pitcher said “it’s not about what you say, it’s about how you make them feel”. If I am to succeed tomorrow night, this statement will have never been more true.

Comedy Estonia Eestikeelne Stand Up Komöödia Tuur

This week we did a first, we went out on the road with our Estonian language show. It has been a sweet week, we started in Kuressaare, then Pärnu, Rakvere and tonight the crew is off to Viljandi. 4 new cities and we have had great crowds in each place. I am so impressed with our team that we have managed to do this. Loving my job right now.

Tonight I wont be at the show, I am off to Helsinki to perform at Club Act One which is a really big club there run by WT Comedy. Invites to perform at this place don’t come around every day and I an honoured to be invited.

It was lovely to go out to Kuressaare in these lovely warm spring days. The ferry only takes 30 mins.

A motley crew if every there was one

TV3 interviewing Andy after the show in Kuressaare

Our entourage required two cars after Pärnu. Semi trailer coming soon.

The best pizza in Estonia!

Andy on stage in Rakvere!

And finally we got Andy on the ETV morning show Terevisioon. A spirited converation which went overtime and delayed the news. Take that!

Copenhagen is Awesome

Ive been in Copenhagen for 2 nights at the Anglo Comedy Festival and it has been an awesome time. The shows were really good, professionally run and well attended.  The scene is cool in Copenhagen, good comics and a fairly savvy comedy audience.

I had a nice time not having to worry about organising the show and could just hang out and enjoy my weekend away. We went to cool bars and everyone was super cool. I like the Danish attitude. Scandinavian but having different cultural influences, they are down to earth, not convinced they are the centre of the planet like…anyway. Also Swedish jokes KILL in Denmark.  I love the bike culture too, a night out on the town is like bike porn for me, checking out all the different types and individual styles. Bikes to me are like shoes to women. I need more and I need one for every situation.

As I left Copenhagen today I had a feeling like I didn’t want to go home. I was enjoying my holiday and this is a cool city. I almost always want to come home so this struck me kinda hard. Also I may have been very hung over. Or was it the late night KFC feast Anders and I shared? Side details. I had to connect through Stockholm and as I sat waiting for my flight I saw the Estonian Air jet which would take me back and my heart began to twinge for Estonia again. Then it all came on strong as we flew in over Tallinn, however weird or funny this place might be, it is my home. There is always going to be something cooler or more appealing around the corner, but it is whats right in front of you which holds the most excitement for me now.

Here are my highlights of Copenhagen

Which country shall we invade next? At 3am, there is only one choice!

I went to the Mikkeller Bar, they have 20 of their own IPAs on tap and they are marvellous. Such a cool bar to sit around and get wasted on great beer. This day was their 2 year birthday and for 2 hours they had free beer. Unfortunately I arrived in the last minute and only got 1 for free.

Immigrants bring great stuff, like dodgy ass markets, loved it. I spent 2 hours going through every bike store in town tracking down parts for my bikes.

Dürüm Bar…. what the hell is that…. OH DÖNER KEBABS!!! I get it now! Thank you overly obvious sign!

Seriously Denmark, it’s over. What extra stuff could you possibly have on it. Move on. Build a bridge. Just not to Oslo.

Taxis in Copenhagen all have a rack which you can put your bike on late at night.

Finally the man we all love THE Joe Eagan!