Comedy Club Relaunch

Author And Funnyman Dennis Sweeney Is The Chappie Behind
The Bali Comedy Club – And He’s
Pretty Good As A Stand-up Too.

Dennis, can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up involved in doing comedy?

I had a burning desire to enter my fifties having had limited sexual experience with only a few people, to have worked a succession of bottom-end McJobs that offered almost nothing in the way of financial, creative or emotional return, leading me to question the ‘work and reward’ theory that the western world is based on. I also wanted to be a prematurely balding, over weight, heavy smoking borderline alcoholic with an occasional gambling problem and lack of self worth. Praise be! Kids, your dreams CAN come true.

Right. So how did it all start? Were you funny as a kid?

I was born when I was very young; it all started going downhill from there. I was a very ugly child, they actually kept me in a tinted incubator for the first six months, and in fact it was such a shock to everyone when I was born that the doctor slapped my mum. I didn’t really pay much attention at school. It wasn’t considered very macho in Scotland to be studious – in fact if you were intelligent you were homosexual and if you could spell homosexual then you most probably were one. I told my teacher that I wanted to be a doctor but she said that I couldn’t write prescriptions with spray cans. It wasn’t easy growing up in working class Scotland…times were so hard that we had to do drive-by shootings from the bus.

Do you think being Scottish helps in making you funny?

Yes of course. Every time I open my mouth people think I am telling a joke. Most Scottish people have a keen sense of humour, usually very dry and sarcastic; they like to keep it real. One phrase that pretty much sums up the Scottish psyche would be: “If ye cannae fight it, drink it or f**k it, then you might as well ignore it.” Scottish humour is bleak, dark and dour. No prisoners…kill ’em all, then let God sort them out.

Which comedians have played Bali since the conception of the Comedy Club?

The first big name was Ted Alexandro, who has appeared on the David Letterman Show and Seinfeld. He also recently did a gig at Carnegie Hall in New York, which is about as good as it gets, gig wise. We really were honoured to have such a famous comic open our club. Ted did a mesmerizing 40-minute set and pretty much brought the house down, it was a magical evening. We also had Jonathon Atherton, who runs the Singapore comedy clubs, and Lawrence Mooney, who was a semi-finalist on The Last Comic Standing Show.

How do the comedians find playing in Bali? Is it a tough crowd?

No, it’s quite the opposite really, most Bali punters are just happy that someone has shown up to entertain them. People here are very receptive to this whole comedy gig. Bali is pretty much starved for entertainment, apart from clubs, Djs and live bands. Where else can you go out in Bali for a nice meal and be entertained? We have had a few hecklers at the shows but that’s all part of the fun. Anyone who fancies taking on a professional comedian in a slagging match deserves a medal, if you ask me. They certainly don’t suffer fools gladly.

What makes people laugh?

It’s a tough question – there’s a saying which goes: “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.” If a joke has to be explained, the point is lost. Rather than analyzing the structure of the joke, you are researching the information behind it to expand your horizons. Laughing is not an intellectual exercise. If you could generalise humour…or at least stand-up comedy…it’s probably funny because it challenges social convention, but social convention differs between different cultures. One of the challenging things about Bali is that the audiences are cross-cultural, therefore have different opinions about what is funny.

Where do you get your material from?

If I hear something funny on TV or in the pub I just find a pen and write it down. If it’s too difficult to find a pen I just convince myself it wasn’t funny.

Are you ever serious?

Humour can be a powerfully subliminal method of getting across some very serious ideas. Take comedians like Richard Pryor or Billy Connelly for instance. They came from incredibly impoverished backgrounds and both suffered horrible abuse as children but somehow managed to turn these experiences into a source of laughter. The issues they addressed; socio-economic deprivation and man’s inhumanity to man…very serious issues. Yes, they definitely made light of the matter but perhaps the message is more powerful because it’s far more understated and subtle.

Southpaw By Dennis Sweeney

 

Lastly, can you tell us a little bit about your novel Southpaw?

It took me over 10 years to write it.

Do I have to explain it as well?

Just buy it Click Here



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