James and Kirthy will not deny the universal fact that ‘Life is hard’. These two comedians have dealt with tough situations in love life, thug life, high life, street life, married life, corporate life and cultural life but have now finally found some form of redemption in ‘Joke Life’. It’s this mockery of their lives that forges the uncanny alliance which creates this unique stand-up comedy show.
Crappy late night dinners, cheap hotels, and complicated relationships are some of the key perks/punishments of living the ‘Joke Life’, all worth it as long as you guys are laughing.
Ahead of their gig Velvet Comedy Presents: Joke Life tomorrow at The ACT Prague we caught up with stand up comedians James Rankin & Kirthy Iyer to find out a little bit more about them and their project.
So… A very open question… Tell us about yourselves?
James: Well I’m the son of a painter, named Peter who…
Kirthy: …can’t answer simple questions.
James: And hates being interrupted.
Kirthy: By a foreigner.
James: Who can’t pronounce the words ‘wealthy’ or ‘water’ properly.
Kirthy: Try again!
James: I’m Australian, I’m 32 years old. I now live in Berlin, I love Europe! I’ve done different studies and projects in my life but comedy has always been that thing I was really good at you know? That I felt at home with. Even as a kid, I loved making people laugh. There’s magic in that moment. I would get out of trouble with it. Meet girls with it, avoid bullies with it. Now, I’m traveling around Europe with it, seeing new places and meeting new people. Talking with you Andrew, you know, what more do you want from life? 🙂
Kirthy: I’m an Indian born, Germany-resident, English-speaking comedian. So, my life is a joke! Really! What else can I tell you? Well, from childhood, I have been a creative individual. OK, that sounded pretentious. Let me rephrase. Maybe we are all born creative. That sounded equally pretentious. Anyways, as a kid, I loved comics and did drawing most of the time. I transitioned to animation early on and got into the video-games industry. I have been doing Stand-up comedy for the last 7 years, I love storytelling, it doesn’t matter what medium. And I love food. Most people, when they get super-rich, they want a Ferrari. Not me. When I get that wealthy, I want a personal chef, trained in all sorts of cuisines. Just thinking about it makes me hungry!
Kirthy. How did you end up in Frankfurt via Canada?
Kirthy: I did a diploma in 3D Animation and Visual Effects at Vancouver Film School. Then, after graduating, I got a job offer from one of the biggest computer games companies in Germany – Crytek. I had never heard of them either, but my brother had. So, he convinced me to take the job, immediately!
What can you tell us about the German sense of humour?
Kirthy: Being married to a German, and slowly being devoured by the German lifestyle, I have started to understand their sense of humor. It is dark and mostly hidden deep within the souls of German folk.
James: Not the only thing.
Kirthy: They find non-functioning foreigners funny but the minute they see a German not operating within reasonable German standards, they press the panic button.
James: Also, young German audiences are definitely sharing the same sense of humor as the rest of the world. A lot of the audiences we play to are from everywhere so it’s always a mixed crowd with a great vibe.
What’s the English comedy scene like in Germany?
Kirthy: The English comedy scene is thriving in Germany. You get the opportunity to learn the ropes of the trade from the bottom and this also gives you a safe platform to build your comedy. In established scenes outside Germany, you don’t get that many chances to take a lot of risks and discover what works best for you.
James: That’s true. I live in Berlin and the scene is quite good there. I mean it was one of the deciding factors in choosing Berlin, over other European cities… that and the hard drugs and sex clubs. No, I had performed there in the past and spoke to a few people in the Berlin scene who said it was thriving. They were right. There are nearly two English shows per night at the moment. And the mixed expat crowds are so up for the shows, it’s a real treat.
James. Where have you performed in Europe and where did you find the best audience?
James: I’ve been lucky to perform in a lot of different places actually. I mean as an Australian, everything is so close and within reach in Europe. I’ve performed in Spain, London, Amsterdam, and the Czech Republic. Kirthy and I also did our show in Poland and in Edinburgh as part of the festival.
Have you performed in the Czech Republic before?
Kirthy: Sexually, yes. Comedy-wise, no, this is my first time.
James: Good answer. I’ve performed in Prague once before actually, as part of the Berlin show Cosmic Comedy, who did a showcase at the Czech Inn. It was a lot of fun actually so I’m looking forward to getting on stage again.
What is JokeWorks and how did it come about?
James: Well I was producing shows in Berlin under the banner Rankin Comedy and Kirthy was producing shows under SUP Comedy. As we begin to work together more we realised it was a pain to market both of us separately so we created JokeWorks for all our joint projects, such as the shows we are doing now.
SUP Comedy still operates and Rankin Comedy still produces shows in Berlin.
What’s the story behind SUP Comedy?
Kirthy: Well, I wanted to try stand-up comedy in Frankfurt but there were no open-mic nights or anything. So, I started an open-mic out of necessity. This way I could perform and build my own comedy. Slowly, it grew into a community and then it became a very popular show. Over the last 2 years, Sup Comedy has been providing amazing and entertaining shows in which local and international comedians from all over the world delight the audience with quality performances.
Who’s your favourite comedian?
James: Well besides the favourites, Louis CK, Bill Burr, and Seinfeld. I always loved Bill Hicks, for just saying it like it is. Not only do you laugh but you learn and become ‘woke’ as the hip kids call it. It’s such a fine balance to get right and only the best comics can do that; teach you something and keep you laughing.
Kirthy: My top favourites are Bill Burr, Dave Chappelle and Norm MacDonald. They definitely crack me up easily. I generally have a huge list of favourites and I am inspired by any comic who is doing something original and funny. Recently, I have been listening to a lot of Owen Benjamin, that dude is funny.
How do you define ‘funny’?
James: Haha! Great question, but why would you want to define ‘funny’? That’s the beauty of it, it’s intangible!
Kirthy: ‘Funny’ is subjective. But I always have sort of narrowed down funny as an ‘innovative truth’. It’s like when you hear a joke, you hear an idea of a world that is believable yet completely out of the ordinary. This idea gives you this A-ha moment in your head and you can’t help just laughing.
How do you deal with hecklers?
James: I was always quick witted, even on the playground in school. I got out of a lot of trouble like that. So I just trust that I’m funnier and faster. But it’s not always the case and can be tough. If they’re real dicks, the crowd will turn on them on also, so one clever line and you’ll shut them up!
Kirthy: I have been hosting shows for almost 7 years, have dealt with my fair share of heckles. It trains you well. Besides, most heckles are harmless or just a ‘call for attention’.
What can people expect from your gig in Prague?
James: If you pay me 4.7654 euro I’ll tell you it all, mate!
Kirthy: That’s what James thinks we’re going to get per ticket, haha.
James: No, this is going to be a good show. We have a local host, Kristyna Haklova, who is doing really good things for English Comedy in Prague, with Velvet Comedy. She’ll be hosting the night and we’ll just be sharing our stories and jokes from our joke lives, really. We’ve toured together a lot, we’ve worked hard on shaping this show and we can’t wait to get out there and meet everybody.
Obviously we can’t wait for the Prague show but what’s next for you guys?
Kirthy: Well we have a few more stops on this tour first – Brno, Bratislava, Frankfurt, Mannheim. Then we’ll be working together on a few other projects before touring again next year. But you could see us anywhere, so stayed tuned!
How can we purchase tickets for your Prague gig?
Tickets are available from:
Where can we follow you on social media?