Interview: Dan Dorman on Standup in Japan
Dan Dorman is a regular performer at ROR Comedy Club, but that doesn't mean he's just a "regular" guy, he knows what makes stand up special and also understands the challenge of translating his humor for a Japanese audience. Get to know Dan in our exclusive interview, and come see him perform on Fridays and Saturdays at ROR in the heart of Osaka. Last month, we interviewed Comedian, Momo Takori, this month we took some time to catch up with Dan.
ROR: Hi Dan, thanks for your time. So, what do you enjoy most about doing stand up? Dan: I think stand up is such a special forum for comedy. It's a place where your voice can be heard on both universal topics we can all laugh about as well as the news of the moment. Stand up is the stage where you can point out the ridiculousness of everyday life and people laugh and listen. You do that on a street corner and you're just a lunatic. You do it in a comedy club and you're a comedian. It's a fine line, but I'm happy to be on the saner side of it. ROR: What is it like performing in a group? Dan: Edd has mentioned the supportive nature of the group at ROR. I know that comedy can be an incredibly cut-throat scene, because everyone is competing to be the best, and there's egos involved in being the funniest. But to have a supportive group and to get honest (albeit occasionally brutal) feedback from other members of the group has made us all better. We really want to see each other succeed because every success helps all of us. ROR: How has your comedy style developed? Dan: I think that most people, when they are starting out, they find a comedian they like, and basically do an imitation of their style. And it almost never works. Something we all have worked a lot on is finding our own voices. Having that lens to look through really helps when looking for your own take on a topic. There are a lot of funny situations that aren't funny when you tell them to a group of strangers.
A good comedy bit isn't just a funny situation, it's a funny situation with your original take on it. That was something we all had to learn, and have (for the most part). ROR: You've performed in Japanese as well as English. Is this something you'd like to do more of? What are some of the challenges of performing in a second language? Dan: I definitely would like to perform in Japanese more often. On the one hand, it's just a numbers game. I'd have to double-check the statistics, but I'm pretty sure there are more Japanese speakers than English speakers in Japan. Aside from that it's a lot of fun, because culturally, the Japanese don't really do stand-up comedy, so we are introducing something new.
Of course, there are language challenges, and most of the my Japanese performances, I've used material that was originally written in English. So that required some serious editing and in some cases, a whole-scale rewriting of a joke to make it work.
Beyond that is the delivery. You still need your voice, you can't just chuck that shit into google translate and go verbetim, you need a Native Japanese speaker to work with you to make sure you are keeping the nuance of your words, that you are still 'you' on stage. ROR: That's so true, now I have to ask, what's the most memorable show you've ever done? Dan: Definitely the second Japanese show we did. We had a huge audience, We had had a chance to work out some of the material before, and I had a lot of time to practice. I think it was the hardest I have ever worked on a show, because a lot of the people there hadn't seen stand-up comedy ever before. We were their first impression of this new medium and so we really wanted to absolutely kill it. Needless to say, we did. ROR: What would be your dream gig to play? Dan: I don't really have one, so let's just say 'the moon' - I want to be the first person to perform standup comedy on the moon.
ROR: Dan, thanks for taking the time to talk with us and share your perspective. Be sure to check out Dan's performances with us, he's a great act with the energy it takes to drive the jokes home. Check our schedule and book your tickets today.