By Megan Blackwell
Jerome Chandrahasen is a Wellington based comedian and has been a part of the New Zealand comedy scene for more than a decade. He brings a huge amount of experience and knowledge to the game, we were lucky to have the opportunity to ask him some questions.
You’ve just finished your run of shows in Wellington for the festival, how did that go?
Was a lot of fun, some nice friendly audiences and the show started to find its groove. My favourite part was the number of Finnish people turning up with 'why are you talking about us?' expressions. Good to have some people to double-check the facts for me though.
What can we expect from your show this year?
There will definitely be 5 facts about Finland. Some anecdotes about myself. Uh, there's a pretty good story about a dog so if you're into dogs you should come along for that.
Festivals are a great time for people to get out of their comfort zone and see something new. For anyone who hasn’t seen you comedy before, how would you describe your style to them?
Relaxed. It's a friendly show, conversational tone. You can learn some stuff too!
Which shows are you really looking forward to seeing this festival?
Jamie Bowen, I've missed his shows the past couple of years so looking forward to catching him in Wellington next week.
Also caught Cohen Holloway and Sophia Johnson's '50min plus laughs', you couldn't tell what was scripted and what was improvised, a strange and very funny sketch/stand up/something else show.
Once you’ve finished your shows in Auckland what’s next?
Looking at taking it to a few places around NZ. I played Nelson for the first time last year and would love to head back to the South Island, Christchurch, Dunedin are cities I haven't played yet so looking to sort that out.
You’ve been in the game for a while now so you’ve gotten used to dealing with hecklers. Do you have a favourite heckler story you can share with us?
I'm sorry I can't think of any, I actually pretty rarely get heckled. I've seen a glass thrown at an open mic, and we had to escort the guy out. Also had to calmly ask someone to sit down when I thought they were going to rush the stage and tackle Jamie Bowen at a gig out in suburban Wellington. Both situations where it nearly got serious but no one got hurt and we all calmed down.
What kind of comedy do you enjoy?
A show I really got into while I was overseas was 'Showstoppers', they're a London improv troupe who would improvise an entire musical off a handful of suggestions. I love watching the struggle as they tried to set everything up, build a story arc and characters, struggles to overcome and do it all within 75min. Sometimes they didn't make it but the risks they took, amazing. Anything where there's a chance it could all go to hell, I love watching that.
Including dead or alive comedians, what would your dream line up be?
Tommy Tiernan, ah yeah he's another act I'm going to miss this festival, wonderful Irish story teller. James Acaster who I saw a couple of times overseas, inventive yet accessible observations that you don't see coming but once he describes it you know exactly what he's talking about. Sofie Hagen, a Danish comedian I met in London, sharply political + personal but disarming at the same time. And MC'd by James Nokise, the show would run til the following day but it'd be worth it if he goes off on another of his rants.
You’ve been involved with the Raw Quest since 2010. I’ve seen the Raw Quest be dominated by Auckland participants in previous years but last year I was blown away by the finalists from Christchurch and Wellington. Being based in Wellington are there any key differences in the raw comedy scenes between the main cities?
Wellington is a great incubator for comedy. Our open mic night Raw Meat Monday would be the longest running weekly gig in NZ outside of the Classic, virtually every performer from Wellington in the past 5-6 years started there. There's a very supportive community of performers in Wellington too, happy to share advice and ideas. Makes the place really open to experimenting and risk taking.
Both James Malcolm and Savanna Calton who won the Raw Quest in 2014 and 2015 respectively, started in the Class Comedians programme and were able to get plenty of stage time straight away. This year was another busy Quest, over 50 participants and the two going through to the final from Wellington are both very different. Craig Savage, an accountant in his 30s who's just the friendliest dude, and Lucy Roche, well I won't say too much about her but definitely dark and surprising.
What was the best piece of advice in comedy you received?
Have some sort of emotional truth in what you're doing. Of course it's got to be funny but have some truth that people can connect to.
Jerome Chandrahasen - Five Fun Facts About Finland
May 3 - 8: Montecristo Room, Auckland
Tickets via Eventfinda