Comedy coming to Americká Street party

A comedy stage will be one of the attractions at the block party

The Sept. 16 block party on Americká Street, part of the Zažít město jinak festival, will include a stand-up comedy stage with performers in Czech and English from noon to 7:15 pm. The stage is sponsored by Prague.TV along with CRYO Vodka, which will be available nearby.

“Stand-up has become really popular in the Czech Republic with Czech people,” Luke Ryan said. He is coordinating the stage and will MC some of the sets. He is also performing in the last set. The Czech set is at 2 pm, and the rest of the day is in English.

Scott Lee Hansen will be another MC. “He is a wonderful MC. His mind is just crazy but he is a wonderful MC,” he said. From the performers he pointed out Jeffrey Mons. “He's a Dutch comedian, very funny,” he said.

Performing in both Czech and English is Lucie Macháčková. “She's an excellent comedian; absolutely super comedian. She's one of the best joke writers in Prague out of anybody. Her use of wordplay and language in English is unbelievable,” he said.

Ryan said that the comedy circuits in the UK have been well-established since the 1980s, but it is relatively new here. When he came seven years ago, there was almost nothing. He started Comedy Prague in 2013. Now, there are several comedy nights and comics including Ryan move around from one to the other.

“I don't want to run shows all the time. Sometimes it is nice to show up and perform, without worrying,” he said.

The comedy stage at the Americká Street will be one of the first of its type at a block party, though some stages have had the odd stand-up act before.

Ryan said that jokes based on word play in English don't work with a Czech audience, but otherwise the senses of humor were pretty similar. “Some of the stuff I do can be a bit dark, and I think Czechs like that, the dark sense of humor,” Ryan said. “Most of the ideas work in English and Czech. A lot of the comedians get very good responses from Czechs in the audience. Czechs have a good sense of humor, a bit negative, a bit dark,” he said.

The Czech audience, though, is a bit reluctant to volunteer for improv or audience participation. “It is hard work,” Ryan said. “I have noticed that over the last four years it is getting better.” Once they see someone from England or Ireland interact, they are more likely to. “They realize nothing bad is going to happen,” he said. “Usually somebody is happy to chip in,” he said. “If you are persistent you finally get something out of them.”

Part of it is also judging the audience. Ryan says he watches the MC and other act and tries to pick out in advance who will be open to interaction and who won't.

He has had to change his act a bit. About 40 percent of the material he did in Ireland simply wouldn't work here because of specific cultural references. Also, audiences like when jokes are made more local and relevant.

As for American versus Irish and British humor, Ryan said the American style is more observational while Irish and British style is more abstract and absurd. “It is nice to mix them and experiment with different styles of comedy.” He tried doing deadpan humor at one point and found it didn't work for him, but still he likes to try it now and then for one joke to create a little variety.

He also touched on the idea that sometimes people will find a joke offensive. “If you go to a comedy show you have to expect that,” he said. “Certain comedians do jokes on topics that are borderline taboo. I don't myself but I do find it funny,” he said. “Some people don't, and have the right to be offended but they have to accept it is part of the world.”

“Everything is there to be laughed at. It is not for everybody but it is a great way of dealing with and managing and approaching a situation,” he said.

He also finds people can be inconsistent about what offends them. “If you are going to be offended, be offended about everything, otherwise leave it alone.”

So stop by the comedy stage on Americká Street, and try not to be offended.

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