Home' The Wellingtonian : May 10th 2012 Contents 12 THE WELLINGTONIAN, MAY 10, 2012
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Joseph Romanos talks to comedian Raybon
Kan about being a lawyer, what happens if
audiences don't laugh, and his new show.
Raybon Kan: ''It took me ages before I said, ''I'm a comedian''.
Where is home?
I'm a Wellingtonian. I went to
school and university here and
now I live here again. I can get
where I want without knowing the
names of streets, so I'm very com-
I see you went to Wellington
College. How was that?
It wasn't horrific, and I dis-
covered public speaking while I
was there, so it was important. It
was where I learnt you'll convince
people more by making them
laugh than by reasoning with
What did you study at Vic-
Law. It's Wellington and every-
one seemed to do law.
Did you get involved in
much extra-curricular univer-
sity stuff, such as politics?
Not politics, but I did debating
seriously. We ended up making
the world university champion-
ship final in Sydney. We lost to
So you were going to be a
I was. I went into a law firm
and realised I had better get out
quickly before the money became
so good I got stuck there.
Didn't you begin writing for
I had worked at The Dominion
in the holidays, and then I got a
job writing the television reviews.
I did that for about five years.
Is that when you decided
you wanted to move into com-
Yes, but back then you couldn't
say it out loud. No-one ever
uttered that C word. It took me
ages before I said, I'm a com-
edian''. I'd waffle around it saying
I wrote humour. There was no
comedy festival back then.
It must be nerve-racking set-
ting out to make people laugh.
Well, when you're out there and
no-one laughs, you hear it. That's
the loudest thing. When you
launch your zinger and it doesn't
hit, you need survival tactics. You
don't want to make the audience
uncomfortable for not laughing.
So you move along, as if that line
they didn't laugh at was only part
of a narrative anyway.
Which comedians have you
A lot. Chris Rock doing Bring
the Pain was one of the best
performances I've ever seen.
Eddie Izard, Louis CK. Amazing.
I've never related to him. He is
so effusive and bubbly and
extroverted. One of those Gaelic
life-of-the-party types. From a
technical point of view he'll start a
story, go off on tangents and come
back to it. He's a real performer --
he started off playing the banjo.
Is there much of a physical
component in your comedy?
Not a lot. I walk quite randomly
because it helps me and the audi-
ence, so there's a little bit of
Do you get better as a com-
edian the longer you do it?
I don't think so. At the start
there is a certain energy. As you
go on with it, your attitude
changes. You develop a disdain for
some of the tricks and gimmicks
that worked for you in the past.
Is it important to sound con-
You don't want to project fear
and neediness. The audience
doesn't want to have to laugh just
so you'll feel better.
Do you spend a long time on
Definitely. Some jokes occur to
you perfectly in your head. When
you talk they come out right.
Some stuff can be improvised. But
a lot of things are very scripted.
The trick is to give the impression
that you're thinking it up while
you're out there.
What's the most rewarding
part of being a comedian?
The greatest feeling is to go out
there with a plan and not do it.
I've done that twice, done some-
thing else completely different.
What about hecklers?
Hecklers are a bad sign. But if
you are going badly you have to
address it. They only heckle you
when you're in trouble anyway.
When things happen, such as a
phone ringing, or someone getting
up and leaving, you have to
What do you do to keep your
Twitter is good, but topical stuff
vanishes quickly. You like things
that don't date.
I see you're wearing glasses.
Didn't you have an operation a
few years ago to improve your
I did and it changed my life. I
can't remember when I didn't
wear glasses. My eyesight was
minus seven or eight. After the
operation I couldn't believe how
well I could see. The footpath
seemed closer, everything seemed
bigger. I could swim, use a laptop,
drive without glasses. Being in
the rain and the shower was dif-
ferent. My eyesight now is minus
one, so I really hardly ever need
What's this show you're
doing in Wellington?
I've named it Uncalled For. You
have to come up with a title
months ahead for advertising
purposes, and try to get a theme.
When I thought of the title it was
because at that time I was getting
a lot of Goodness, that was
uncalled for'' comments. People
watching will feel it's at least
irreverent and not polite. But
hopefully they'll find it funny.
Do you keep moulding the
Yes. I've done shows in a lot of
I've got a couple of days in
Auckland, and then I'm at
Downstage from May 15 to 19.
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