This comedian is bringing classy back

Frankie’s Comedy Cellar is making its debut in Abu Dhabi on 9th September with its Dine and Laugh show. We chat to new host and professional comedian, Simeon Goodson, about psychotic traits and keeping it classy 

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Studies have shown that comedians have high levels of psychotic personality traits – do you have to be crazy to be a stand-up? 

Absolutely. You’re trying to make strangers laugh for money instead of doing something productive with your time.

Everyone thinks they’re funny on some level, but what separates the pro from the funny guy in the office?  

It’s easy to be funny for people you know; generally there’s some sense of a shared experience or inside joke with people who are around each other all the time. With professional comedy, you have to relate to strangers and find some common thread that they not only relate to, but also find humorous. Oh, and you also have to have high levels of psychotic personality traits.

Tell us about your most memorable show…

In 2015, I performed at The Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. I was opening for Hannibal Buress in my hometown. There were about 2,000 people there and the way the acoustics work, the laughter just engulfs you from every direction. The next night I was performing at a bar for six people. That bar show was my most memorable.

So how does the comedy scene here compare to New York? 

To be honest, there’s not really much of a comparison. The UAE comedy scene is pretty new whereas NY is old and established.  In NY, however, you’ll find that people on both sides of the stage can be pretty jaded about the whole thing. Performers are all angry and unhappy. The audience is convinced the show is going to be bad. People in the UAE tend to be more welcoming and accepting of comedy performances. It’s something new and fun, and for Westerners especially, it can be reminiscent of home.

Do you have to tailor the humour to a different audience when performing to a local crowd here?

It’s difficult to compartmentalise Emiratis, or really anyone, since the invention of the internet. Everyone likes the same stuff, which is cat memes. I’ve gotten some good responses from Emiratis with the same stuff that makes everyone else laugh. We’ve also got a few Emiratis on the scene telling jokes, from Ali Al Sayed who is like the Godfather of UAE comedy, to Marwan Al Hashimi, who said he would cancel my visa if I didn’t give him a shout out. I’m kidding.

What’s Frankie’s Comedy Cellar all about?

It’s taking place at Frankie’s [restaurant] in Fairmont Bab al Bahr. We’re going to keep it classy and hilarious, which is really the only way I know how to do anything. We’ve got UAE comedy veterans Tai the Comedy Bawse, Mohamed Rushdi Rafeek and Jonathan Boulton to get us started.

This is the first show in a series so what can we expect in the next few months? 

First and foremost, I’ll be there telling jokes and wearing cool outfits. You can expect a hilarious rotation of local comedians also telling great jokes, but their outfits probably won’t look as good as mine. Ultimately, we want to keep it traditionally funny for the
purists, but we also want to keep it innovative and original for these dang millennials with their Snapchats and no attention spans and Tesla cars. What was I talking about again?

Moving on… What advice do you have for aspiring comedians to help them get started in show biz? 

Don’t do it. Get a real job.  Then be the funny guy in the office. If you insist on doing it, though, you’ve got to just dive in. You’re not going to be funny until you are, then you’ll be in too deep to do anything else.

Frankie’s Comedy Cellar. 9th September. Bar seating free, table seating AED 150 minimum spend. Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, between the bridges. From 7pm. Contact:02 654 3238, dining.bab@fairmont.com

WORDS Colin Armstrong

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