Class Act | Teacher Brian Deals Words
We first met Brian last week when his short clip from the Hong Kong International Comedy Festival showed us how funny/crazy our profession is. It’s often the comedians who show us the hilarity of insanity, or so our counselors tell us, and it’s English teacher-turned-comedian Brian Aylward whose class is in session.
Brian is a self-described word dealer, unique not because he hails from far off Newfoundland and teaches kids in South Korea, but rather because he is trailblazing a fledgling comedy scene on the cramped stages of Itaewon and English-speaking parts of Asia. In a “world is flat” kind of way, he shows how comedy can come from virtually anywhere, including from the quirky field of ESL Korea, and hit you right in your laugh bag.
We interviewed Brian Aylward this weekend, and here is what he had to say about his first act, on teaching, and where he’s going next:
If someone asks, what’s your job title?
Word Dealer. I sell English words to Asians. (Twenty-eight words an ounce)
How did you get into comedy? Were you always this funny growing up?
My first time on stage was November 11th, 2005. It was at “Rockssins Bar” in Anyang, Korea. It started with a bet. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) knew I had always wanted to do stand up since I was a teenager. She bet me that if she quit smoking for a month, that I would have to go on stage for the first time. I said, “bet.” A bunch of my friends came out for support, which was really nice. From that point on, I was bitten.
Yes, I was always the class clown. I am from Newfoundland, Canada, where storytelling and humor are integral parts of our culture. I had to compete for class clown. ha …
Have you been to any interesting places or met any interesting people while living in Asia?
I have been to Japan, the Philippines a few times, Thailand a couple of times and Cambodia. Vietnam and Laos are next. My wife and I want to see the world. (We are applying to Amazing Race- Asia next year.) The sunrise I saw at Angkor Wat was amazing. A floating village I visited in Cambodia was very interesting. Also, I went to a ping pong show in Bangkok. However, this was very disappointing. NOBODY there even wanted to play ping pong. I even brought my own paddle!
What comedians inspire you and who do you most identify your comedy style with?
Right now, I really like Louis C.K., Dave Atell, Sarah Silverman and Bill Burr. Dave Chappelle, of course. My comedic idols are George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks, Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Greg Malone, Mary Walsh and more.
Kids say funny things. Are they great material for comedy?
Kids are great man. They still think fart noises are hilarious every single time! The other day, I was in class singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” with the Kindergarten students. Then , I tried to change it up. I asked the kids to name a body part that began with the letter “M”. A seven year old student replied “Medulla Oblongata.” If I had asked that same question back home in Canada, some student would have yelled out, “Middle finger.” Asian kids are smart.
What are the similarities between teaching and comedy?
Speaking in front of people is required for both. However, I wish I could give candy and stickers to the audience for laughing, as I give the Kindergartens for good behavior. Candy is Kindergarden crack!
What do you really think about teaching?
I believe that children are our future. We should teach them well and then let them lead the way. We should show them all the beauty they possess inside. They’re smiles remind me of how it used to be. Actually, I’m a Kindergarten teacher and I like it. At this age, you really get to see the language development in the children. They learn so fast. I have said before that I like being called Brian Teacher. It is better than being back home in Canada and being called Brian Security Guard, Brian Entry Level Employee (a.k.a. company bitch) or Brian Sandwich Artist. I have been called much worse than teacher. I’ll take it.
What do you think of the recent election of Barack Obama?
It was very exciting and historic. It’s the very first time in history that there has been a Catholic Vice President of the United States of America. Being from Newfoundland, Canada, I can say that it is a proud time for our people. It was amazing man. Mr. Obama (Democrats) even won Indiana! Even old, racist white people seen the light. (darkness?)
The world economy stinks, is this good news for comedians?
It’s good of course. Lots of material. History shows that whenever the world is in a crises, stand up comes to the forefront. Business people need a good laugh. (Note: I am available for any corporate gigs here in Seoul.) SNL is back strong and comedy is a lucrative business again for many people. People find truth in comedy. People are sick of being lied to and they need some laughter medicine.
Where is your next act?
After this interview, I am going to Family Mart to get a squid burger and a Pocari Sweat. Why is it every time I go into Family Mart, I feel like I’m adopted?
I will be doing my own show in Itaewon at Kabinett Wine Bar in early 2009. I also plan to go to more comedy festivals each year and be a part of more professional stand up gigs here in Seoul. I’m planning to release my first comedy album (CD) and website soon so stay tuned.
–Posted by Ratemyhagwon