Zero tolerance for drunken hecklers, and other fun facts | Johnny Kats

UK-based Australian stand up comedian Johnny Kats speaks to us ahead of his visit to the island on May 9, where he will be performing at the Eden Comedy’s 9th Stand Up Comedy night

Johnny Kats
Johnny Kats

What’s funny?

They say comedy is tragedy plus time. I tend to agree. A lot of my material is drawn from life experience and I can assure you as the experience was unfolding, there was no humor. For example, I snore terribly and have been in many situations where my girlfriend will throw me out of bed and in the middle of the night, it is just not funny. But days later, I can see the humour in it. And that’s funny to me. And that is a place where I like to work from. Also, funny is simply what makes people laugh and sometimes on stage it could be an inflection, a funny voice, a physicality... I truly enjoy moments where a crowd are laughing at something that really shouldn’t be funny but it is because the comic has made it so.

Do you think stand-up comedians need to have a particular ‘constitution’?

I really believe there should only be two laws – not rules – in comedy.

1. Don’t steal material.

2 Stick to your allotted time as other acts are relying on you doing your time so that they can get to their next gig.

That is all that should be in the constitution. I believe you can stand with your back to the crowd or perform standing on your head. You are there to make them laugh. If you can’t make them laugh, then just get off the stage.

I have seen many comedians break rules and be truly inventive and creative on stage and I love them so much because they are taking stand up to another place and its exciting. However the caveat applies: if they’re not laughing , get off the stage!

And if you think standing on your head is not funny, see Terry Alderton.

Comedians are often referred to as being the last bastion for traditional storytelling. How do you approach your craft?

I approach my craft from a point of, “Did this really happen to me?”

I then craft a routine around that fact and usually will spend several gigs at open mic rooms trying to find where the laughs are.

I will then usually construct a routine that has a joke every 10 seconds or so, as that is for me a metronome and a guide that the “bit” is pulsing along at a healthy rate.

What was the transition from Australia to the UK like for you?

Personally the transition was difficult. Leaving your family and friends behind was very hard and it did affect me for quite some time. In regards to my material, it was very interesting to see what was getting laughs in Australia wasn't necessarily working in the UK. I found that very interesting and it forced me to focus on a truly universal set of jokes that can be performed anywhere in the world… like, say, Malta!

How did feel to be selected to support Dave Chappelle at the Boston Comedy Club?

I felt wonderful, I had only been doing comedy for a short time and to win a competition and fly to New York to do stand up was for me my Mecca. I was pinching myself for a while performing at clubs thinking these are the same clubs that the likes of Jerry Seinfeld and Eddie Murphy cut their teeth on. It was super cool. Dave Chappelle was a great guy too. Very friendly and very nice back stage. He did three hours on stage that night. Great night.

Are there any ‘regrettable’ comedy club experiences you wish you could erase from your memory?

I was going to say yes, but if I can be philosophical I’m glad I’ve had horrible experiences on stage because I have learnt from them.

I remember one gig where a lady was so drunk she threw wine all over me when I asked her to leave. She refused to be quiet and was disrupting everyone’s set. Now I know if this happens again I will throw to a break and have her removed and reset the gig. Instead, I continued on and the gig failed, as she wouldn't stop literally ‘screaming’ at jokes.

Are you looking forward to performing in Malta?

Of course I’m looking forward to performing in Malta. It’s a place I have never been to but has always intrigued me, as I’m a fan of Mediterranean history. I expect the sun to be on show and be a lot stronger than the sun in London. That’s all I ask. Oh yeah, and I’d appreciate a nice turn out to come and see some really good quality stand up. We have a great bill on that night. It’s going to be very funny.

Johnny Kats will be performing at Eden Comedy Club, Eden Cinemas, St Julian’s on May 9. He will be accompanied by Mark Maier, Ro Campbell and Laura Lexx. Doors open at 20:30. Tickets at €20 can be bought clicking here.

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