New haircut, new boots, new year: Berlin comedy veteran Paul Salamone is starting the year off right with an all-new solo show at the “T” Bar in Kreuzberg on January 25, 2014!
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Artist Profile: Paul Salamone, Comedian and MC
Current Location: Berlin
Origin: Syracuse, NY, U.S.
Where you can find him:
facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/489745327810100/
We are Not Gemüsed: https://www.facebook.com/gemused
Your comedy career began in 2002 during a brief stint as editor-in-chief for a satirical leftist newspaper. Is comedy a natural outgrowth of left leaning politics? Or more so just from any extremist points of view?
I don’t know, I think there are comedians across the political spectrum. In the USA we have Jamie Kilstein and Lee Camp on the extreme left, then guys like Nick DiPaolo on the right. It probably skews leftward though, simply because a part of comedy I think is calling into question the powers that be, who in the world right now are overwhelming conservative, at least economically. I think what’s more important is that the comedian sort of match or at least understand the worldview of the audience, and then mock the things that run counter to that. I can imagine, though I have no proof of this, a conservative Christian comedian having a great time mocking liberals in front of right-leaning audience.
Your comedic career spanned 5 years and brought you from New York to Colorado. What prompted your move to Berlin in 2007?
It was not much of a career before last year really. Between 2002 and 2007 I was basically a frustrated Buddhist and sometimes-activist trying to make a living as a graphic designer while dabbling in comedic writing on the side. I didn’t really develop a taste for the stage until 2005 when I started taking an improv class and doing a lot of karaoke with my brother. The move to Berlin is a complicated one: basically, in May 2007 I was living in a house in Boulder with my girlfriend at the time, with whom I was running a fledgling graphic and web design company. One night the people upstairs had a dinner party and forgot to blow out the candles – the top half of our house burned and our apartment below was flooded and smoked out. We lost most of our gear and had to live on couches for the new few months while trying to figure out what to do next. Eventually she suggested I take a break and travel abroad, something I had never done until then. Berlin was my first stop, and I liked it so much I just stayed, and then the business dissolved and we broke up. It sounds sad, but it turned out to be the best decision for both of us.
In 2008-09 you fell in with a troupe of improv comedians, and eventually co-founded a monthly showcase with a fellow comedian. What was the scene like in Berlin for English speaking comedians?
Much smaller than it is now but there was some good stuff happening. There was a troupe called My English Class – Jacinta Nandi, Ben Knight, James Harris and a German guy – who did monthly sketch/stand-up shows. David Deery started doing stuff around then too. Then there was Kim Eustice’s long-running monthly “English Comedy Night” at the Kookaburra, which was mostly out-of-town acts with a couple locals. What happened was the owner of the Kookaburra, a really nice guy named Sanjay Shihora, saw me and the others in the improv troupe (what was then Laugh Olympics, now called ComedySportz), and asked us to perform at his club. This led to them eventually devoting every Tuesday to an English comedy show how of some sort. Eventually in 2009, me and Rey Melara from Laugh Olympics started our Comedy in S.I.N. showcase in Kreuzberg. Jörg Kaier played SIN several times as ‘The Rock ‘n’ Roll Diktator and the scene we have now sorta built from there.
2011 saw the emergence of a legitimate English speaking comedy scene, after 4 years of working at your craft in Berlin – what was that like? How would you compare the start to how things are now?
Well there’s just a lot more of it, isn’t there? I’d say a number of us have gotten a lot of experience putting on shows, helping develop talent, and hitting the road. I certainly have grown from doing pretty bad comedy to doing it slightly less bad. There was definitely a community feeling around that night – Comedy in SIN – it was really something special, and because so unique, much easier to market. There’s a lot more competition now, though we still all sort of get along. Since then we’ve had a lot of pro comics come through and be impressed by our scene, which is really gratifying.
We Are Not Gemüsed was created with comic Caroline Clifford who you met at the Edinburg Fringe. What was the impetus for you two to team up and create the open stage at Gemüsed?
I was hosting what can only be described as the best/worst music poetry comedy open mic in Europe at a place called Joe’s Bar in Prenzlauer Berg. It was insanely fun, but basically a drunken melee with a sound system, and not exactly conducive to being able to work out jokes (I learned how to deal with hecklers though, that’s for sure). Caroline was privy to a couple of the last few shows and once the bar inevitably went under, she suggested I not waste my life trying to recreate that “magic” and instead step it up with Sameheads. I met her at Buzz Club in 2012, by the way. The impetus to team up is that she is fucking funny and I was honored that she asked me.
It looks like 2014 is off to an auspicious start for you with “Starting Over” your first solo show of the year on January 25th at the “T” Bar in Kreuzberg. All new Paul, all new material – it’s not to be missed. The show will also feature Caroline Clifford; the dynamic duo is back! Do you have parting words, advice for the new year, etc. for your public?
If there’s anything I’ve learned in six years as a Berliner, its that hedonism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and that there are bigger pleasures to be had in life at the other end of hard work. So that’s my advice for the New Year: party less, work on the stuff that matters to you more. And bring five euros to T Bar on the 25th J