Purifying Jokes with Ivan Aristeguieta

INJ 08 | Chorizo Sizzle Comedy

Ivan Aristeguieta became a full time comedian after having a successful career as a Brew Master and Food Technologist in his home country of Venezuela. He left the Brewery but drinking beer is still part of his job. He quickly escalated to become part of the new Venezuelan comedy movement selling out shows around Venezuela and Miami-Florida (USA). In 2012,  Ivan migrated to Australia and took the great challenge of performing comedy in a second language and aimed for Australian laughter. Six years after performing comedy for the first time in English Ivan is one happy comedy-migrant and he’s squeezing all the privileges the First-World can give him. From his own TV show, Lost in Pronunciation, his live stand-up TV special debut, Chorizo Sizzle, to be invited to perform in the prestigious Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal in 2017.

Listen to Episode #8 here:

[smart_track_player url=”https://www.podetize.com/statsapi/www.podetize.com/wp-content/uploads/fileuploads/11-5b145ef137b51b3d1af0633e9305c43d/07/2018/e155fe392f49c11ae117406f4a3fdd58.mp3″ title=”Purifying Jokes with Ivan Aristeguieta” image=”https://petermcgraw.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/185-Im-Not-Joking_final_rev2.jpg” ]

 

Purifying Jokes with Ivan Aristeguieta

Our guest is Ivan Aristeguieta. Ivan is a former brewmaster and food technologists. Originally from Venezuela, he’s lived in Australia and worked as a fulltime comic here for over five years. He’s won Best Comedy Award at Adelaide Fringe and Best Newcomer at the Sydney Comedy Festival last year. He performed at one of my favorite comedy festivals, the world’s largest comedy festival, Just for Laughs. Welcome, Ivan.

Peter, thank you for having me.

First question, if you weren’t a comedian, what would you be? Would you be a brewmaster again?

I compare things to falling in love. When you have a job, you have a relationship with that job. When you fall in love, you have to like the good things and bad things. I love everything about food from cooking to learning the chemistry, the science behind the production in big mass, but I never enjoyed working in it.

You like the knowledge?

I love the knowledge, the sharing, the history, and the behavior of people around food and planning, production, and quality. Working in a company or working in a restaurant, I couldn’t do the bad things of the job so I would never be a brewer again. I might brew for myself as I cook for myself, but if I wasn’t a comedian now, I’m a public speaker, a singer or a host maybe in radio. I used to do radio in Venezuela and I loved it. Something related to that.

[Tweet “When you have a job, you have a relationship with that job.”]

Performance?

Yeah.

I’m noticing something that’s happening as I talk to funny people. The discussion came up in the last podcast that this notion of being unemployable, that is the difficulty it is to have a traditional job, a boss and so on. That sounds a little bit like your experience with food.

There are a lot of freedom in comedy. If I’m not a comedian, I know I can go back to teaching at least food safety because I have got all the qualifications, including as a teacher or an instructor. My first decent job in Australia before jumping again to fulltime comic was teaching in the food industry about food hazards, hygiene and sanitation.

What’s the biggest threat in food hygiene?

Historically, it’s Botulinum but it’s very well-controlled, E. coli, Salmonella.

Cross-contamination and things like that.

Wash your hands. It’s just that, wash your hands a lot.

Forgive the digression, but I’m sure everyone will appreciate this. Can I figure out how safe it is to eat in a restaurant by the bathroom?

You can figure out the hygiene of a person by body smell or how their shoes look like. It’s the same thing if they cannot maintain something as simple as a bathroom, imagine what the kitchen is like.

It’s a good indicator. Also the food’s better though, too.

They’re quicker. They don’t take time in cleaning. When you live in a brewery, you train on pretty much the job of a brewer. In a big brewery, it’s cleaning. I remember one of my bosses. He was a great boss. He says, “Every time you enter a room in a factory, look up.” If the ceiling is not clean, they don’t care.

One of my favorite documentaries is a movie called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It’s a fabulous movie. Visually, it’s a compelling story. You learn about Sushi. It’s also a movie about achievement, which is something that I’m interested in such a part of this podcast. There’s a scene in there that says that great chefs are obsessed with cleanliness.

Yes. It’s about discipline and perfection and just bringing back all the segues back to comedy. Someone like Jerry Seinfeld is obsessed with cleaning jokes and taking out all the rubbish to make a perfect joke. In this particular case, this particular topic is about each word in that joke is there for a reason and it’s not an extra word. I remember one of my, in Japanese terms, he was like more than a sensei. He had a sheer hand of brewers in the company I used to work for. He was already retired but he set up four big breweries in Venezuela. He knows the history of how to plan a brewery just from the blueprint, then how to create a product and develop a new product. This guy was in his late 70s and he did a master class for the brewers who are working in these breweries. The first thing he said was the only thing you need to know is the brewing process is about purification. You start with the raw materials, you mix it, and every single part of the step, you take something out of it. You remove something from the product until you have the final product that is very clean. In comedy, it’s similar. It’s the same thing. When you start, you have an idea of a joke, you write roughly what you want to say then you go on stage, you tried, these words were not needed then you think the idea is not presented the right way. You have to change the joke, and then you realize that something that was a page at the beginning turned out to be three lines. It’s the same thing.

Do you think that your background as a brewer and a food technologist has helped you as a comedian, the orientation that you have?

Chorizo Sizzle Comedy: Whatever you do as a comedian, you have to have good life experience so you can have something interesting to say.I think so. I had this conversation with a friend and was catching up. I’m 38, he’s 27. When he finished high school, he went straight to being a comic. He never studied after high school or had any jobs other than hospitality. He’s taken a break from comedy because it’s no longer helping him or he’s not in love with the bad things. I’m 38. I started doing comedy when I was 27. I already had life experience in Uni, life experience working in companies. Whatever you do as a comedian, you don’t have to be a scholar or have a degree, but you have to have good life experience so you can talk about stuff and have a say. There’s a comedian here in Australia, he’s very young but he has had a difficult life. His life experience is four times my life experience and he’s half my age. He didn’t go to Uni but he has gone through a lot of stuff. When you see his standup, you’re like, “Wow.”

You moved here, that must helped because that’s a change in experience?

Comedy is about having a different perspective in things. When you’re from another country, you immediately have a different perspective and that makes it a lot easier. Also, the language change helped me in my comedy. Spanish is my first language and I started doing comedy in Spanish. My language has a lot of resources in my language. I abuse them.

What’s the example?

I can talk too much on a subject and use a lot of descriptive words and be very colorful in the setup of the joke without going straight to the point. In English, I don’t have that much vocabulary so I have to make my point with the limited vocabulary that I have.

It’s a constraint on your creativity.

From the beginning, they’re trained compared to my jokes in Spanish.

It’s just removing the fat. It forces you to trim the fat because you just don’t come up with that much fat of humor.

I have to find a way to say the things with just that little vocabulary that I have.

Do you write your jokes in Spanish in your mind or do you write them in English?

In English.

Let’s talk about this different perspective. I want to talk about this and I want to talk about freedom. Let’s talk about freedom first. We were introduced via Twitter and then you’re like, “I don’t have social media on my phone anymore.” I was congratulating you for that and then asked you why and you said, “I’m working on a show.” The word freedom is an interesting word. I just purchased this app called Freedom and it blocks websites on your computer and phone. It makes it difficult to engage in distraction when you’re doing creative work that way. You were saying you go to a place for three weeks and you’re in some place, you’re obviously always writing jokes. You’re also working on the show. This is for the upcoming comedy festival.

It is festival season. I start with Fringe, then Melbourne Comedy Festival, then Brisbane Comedy Festival, Sydney and Perth Comedy Festivals. Then I’m doing New Zealand Comedy Festival for the first time and I’m also doing for the first time Edinburgh Fringe this year. This is the beginning of the season and I’m putting together all the new jokes and giving it a shape and it takes time.

[Tweet “You cannot go with a joke that you’ve never tried before.”]

It’s an hour show?

Yeah. The format in Australia is a lot different than in America. Australia’s a big country in area but it’s a small country population. You don’t have that much audience to do the same show. In America, you can tour a couple of years with one-hour show and still have new audiences. In Australia, the Melbourne Comedy Festival is almost 30 years old or older, so the audience in Australia knows about this. They expect a different show every year, which is very hard. At the same time for example, my last year’s show, I did it almost 80 times. Of course, the last ten were a lot better than the first ten because it was purified. It’s a great school to force yourself to do a different hour every year. I have this guideline that I put myself only two or three jokes I can recycle to the next show as long as they are very good to make a point and as long as they embellish the new jokes. They create a good setup for the new jokes to be around.

Let’s go back to freedom. Social media, this was new. I’ve been with our social media on my phone for almost two weeks. I find myself that I’m trapped in this thing. I wake up and I look at the phone and I go to bed. I’ve downloaded this app called Moment. It tells you your screen time. One day, I had six and a half hours of screen time in one day and I’m like, “I’ve got a problem.” When I’m writing the jokes, I started with loss in pronunciation, permanent resident, sausage sizzle, duty, this is my fifth one-hour show in English and my sixth one-hour show overall; I did one in Spanish before migrating. You have to try the jokes on stage in open mics and stuff like that. That’s the way it is. You cannot go with a joke that you’ve never tried before. I have a better sense of, “I know this might work. I know this won’t work.”If I’m writing something and the idea doesn’t flow and I’m stuck, I go to the phone immediately.

It’s like a coping mechanism.

I’m starting to believe more and more about the theory of immediate gratification. We get addicted to that because I’m not even trying hard. I’m already moving away from it. What I did was I have to get the apps. I still go to my phone and look for the apps and I found myself, “What an idiot.” Now, I’m on YouTube a lot more. I still have to fill that gap. I’m going to download that app that you said, Freedom, to block YouTube from my phone. I like working out with writing jokes. I’m working on just to try the discipline that when something hurts, you have to keep going. It hurts when the joke is not flowing. I have to keep going. Comedians at the beginning, when you’re on an open market, you can see funny things everywhere and you write about the funny things and you do jokes that are very obvious. That’s the proper way of doing it just because you’re starting. Eventually, after years of doing comedy, you’re going to run out of those things.

The audience wants more than that anyways.

My next level, which is still beginner, is just have thoughts and ideas. I want to explain how I see life now and I have to find jokes and find a way of explaining that in a funny way. That’s where I get stuck. I have this idea, how can I make it funny? That’s where I’m not doing the push up properly. I’m running away. I’m looking at my phone.

Everyone will probably resonate with that. I recognize it enough to purchase a solution. There’s this work on what’s called an affect regulation. Humans are generally trying to approach positive experiences and avoid negative experiences. There are exceptions. Exercise is an exception and so on. There are a variety of strategies by which to cope with negative experiences. One of them is avoidance. It’s a very problem-focused way to do it. What happens is people encounter a rough patch in their creative work. You’re just struggling with an idea. You’re struggling with a joke. I’m struggling with a sentence, whatever that is and then that’s uncomfortable. Then you check your email, you pick up your phone, whatever that thing might be, in order to regulate your emotions.

Get another coffee. I stopped drinking coffee because I was drinking up to five coffees a day and it’s given me serious stomach. I had to quit coffee.

People are too focused on willpower. What’s clear to me talking to you is you’re a professional, like everything about you suggests that you’re a professional, the way you talk about your work, our interactions leading up to this. You were clear about boundaries. “I need to leave at this time.” You have a busy life, you have things that you want to accomplish, and you probably have high self-control in general. You’re a thin guy, you take care of yourself. Do you know what I mean? You’ve been able to learn another language and become successful in another language. You have high impulse control yet you struggle with it. I have high impulse control yet I struggled with it. Willpower is wildly overrated. There has to be something else that is there that doesn’t allow willpower to kick in, whether that be a constraint. I’m becoming a believer in habits, how we create habits. A lot of people who exercise don’t do it because they make a conscious choice to exercise or not. You have to do it. If I can’t floss at the end of a day, I don’t think I can go to bed. People just get up and then they exercise. I’m trying to develop habits around my creative work because creative work by definition is challenging.

It’s very challenging. It’s as challenging as working out for me.

It’s harder for me.

I’m a comedian and I work at night. My job most of the time is just thinking and conversations and getting inspired with the media as well or just observing life, observing myself, analyzing myself. The more free time you have, the less freedom you have.

[Tweet “The more free time you have, the less freedom you have.”]

Tell me more about that.

If I have something to do, like I’ve got a meeting and then I’m going to record another podcast with a friend and then I have a casting, I don’t look at my phone. I go, “I’ll be free at4:00.” At 4:00, I will work out. I will feel free if I did what I wanted to do. When I have too much free time, I just keep pushing that wrinkle away from my side, but the wrinkles going to be there. Then at the end of the night, I didn’t do my pushups or my sit-ups. It’s very hard to develop habits when you don’t have a structure in your life. It took me three years to figure it out that I cannot have a gym. If I want to work hard, I have to do by myself because I travel six, eight months a year. I know there are gyms that are 24 hours and they’re all over the country. I do that because it’s a great excuse to say, “The hotel is here, the gym is in the other suburb. I won’t go there.

How do you workout?

I have apps and I do it on the floor. I know it’s important and now I am closer to the habit, but I still don’t have the habit.

You still have to make choices.

I still have to push myself and grunt before I do it. In winter, I do it less. In summer, I do it more just because I feel more active in summer. It’s the same with writing jokes. When you wake up that nerve, it’s easier but that nerve goes to bed very quickly if you don’t work it up. It’s like the muscle, like writing jokes. I can think about jokes all day and I can take notes, but sitting down and writing the way I like to write a joke, different comedians have their own style. I’d like to go, “What is the premise? This is the setup. This is the punch line.” I put in bold letters where the punchline is or when an act out is. If I have three or four lines with no black or bold letters, I know I’m talking too much so I have to trim it. I have to say it in a different way. For me, to do that is the same as doing pushups. It’s like I have to sit down, I get the phone, then I get distracted. I still do it. It’s a bigger struggle. I do challenges. For example, I’d do 100 pushups a day and sit down and write two hours a day for a month. Once that willpower muscle is working, it starts to feel weird like the flossing, like, “I didn’t write any jokester today. I didn’t do any pushups today. Let’s do double pushups tomorrow, 200 instead of 100.”

Seinfeld has this thing he calls “Don’t break the chain.” He has this thing where he wants to work on his craft every day and he puts an X on the calendar once he’s done it.

I break the chain so much because it’s exhausting. Once you have the show and you think about it and then you do it for the first time, they go, “Okay.” The next day you’re not writing but you’re thinking about the show and then you change something in one joke, you change another thing in another joke. I’m no longer sitting down and writing more jokes because I don’t need to write more jokes once I have this show. I want to train that show. I wanted to make it, I want to purify it, but I don’t have to write new jokes. I just have to fix it. It’s a different dynamic for me too. It’s like, “I did the pushups, now I’d have to do core.”

If you’re going to use a sports analogy, it’s like the off season. You write your jokes and then during the season, you perform your jokes, but you’re not really practicing. You’re not doing the same things that you do in the off season. The quality of your act as determined in the time leading up to it.

My manager, Chris, has this analogy. The jokes are the bricks. The second stage of writing a whole show is the mortar. It’s the cement. How are you going to put those bricks together? How are you going to set them up, which jokes goes first, and what’s the theme of the whole show? You got the jokes and punch lines and premises, and punch lines and premises. Once you have that cement, that mortar will change and reshape the order of the bricks. It’s like finishing, the rendering of the show.

INJ 08 | Chorizo Sizzle Comedy
Chorizo Sizzle Comedy: The jokes are the bricks. The second stage of writing a whole show is the mortar. It’s the cement.

I like to use the term mosaic. The tiles, you put them and then together, they create this overall experience.

A single comment can change the whole idea of the show on the order of the jokes.

You’re saying that’s the next step? Do you find yourself honing the jokes more or honing that order and emphasis when you’re doing your 30 nights at Melbourne?

Yeah.

What are you doing more of?

The rendering. The first festival will be more bricks and a bit of rendering. Then I feel very comfortable with the bricks. Then honing is the rendering.

In Australia, is Melbourne the top one? For people who aren’t familiar with Australian comedy, it’s like throughout the year there’s these different festivals and every comic is developing a one-hour show but what’s the crown jewel? Is there a final one that you’re shooting for or no?

I don’t want to have a favorite or a crown jewel. Melbourne is the oldest festival. It’s the proper institution. To do well at the Melbourne Comedy Festival is extremely important. Sydney and Perth Comedy Festivals are great festivals. They have a different structure and the audience is as good as the Melbourne audience. All over Australia, comedy audiences are a great. Adelaide Fringe is the second biggest performing arts festival in the world. It’s Edinburgh Fringe, and then Adelaide Fringe is the second. I’m making up this number but I’m not far away from it. Over 2,000 shows of like circus, comedy, theater, music cabaret. Like fringe, if you have a good mention on the Adelaide Fringe, you’re competing a lot against a lot of different stuff.

You’ve won Best Comedy Award there.

There are four weeks. I got Best Comedy in one week. The best weekly comedy winner will go and compete against the best one. I didn’t win the Best Comedy of the Year of that festival, but I got one of the weeks so it’s great. There is a lot of effort in the quality of your show, but there is also a lot of luck. I know that judges and reviewers, there are so many shows, it’s hard for them as well. If you attracted them for some reason, that’s a bit of luck because they could have picked another show that night to watch.

[Tweet “Never assume that because you think something is funny, they’re going to think something is funny.”]

The same show doesn’t play out the same way every night. Some nights they are better, some lines are better. You chatted about having a different perspective. One is a new language, but then also a new place. You already probably had a different perspective given that you’re a comic before this. Tell me about how having a different perspective is valuable in terms of being funny for you?

I have a good friend of mine in Sydney. His name is Dave Bloustien. He is one of the few Jewish people that I’ve met in Australia because there’s not that many in Australia compared to America. He’s a comedian as well and he’s also a producer and a writer. Now, he’s taking a step off the stage and more into a writing scripts. I asked him, “You’re comedian, you’re Jewish. Tell me why, if there is a list of the best comics of the past 50 years, why without even thinking hard in the top ten there’ll be at least eight Jewish?” He said, “Because of perspective.” He says, “We’re a different race, a different religion. The dynamic in our families is different. We have our own independent community and that makes us whatever we are, an outsider. It’s just that.” They live in two worlds, the world of their own community and the world in the city they live. Perspective is very important.

For example, writing jokes and writing a good premise, when new comics approach me, “Hi. How do you write jokes?” I go, “For me so far because I know in twenty years I’d have more clear ideas like this brewmaster was, like this is how you do it.” For comedy, you have to make people see the world the way you see it. That’s the hard thing. Never assume that because you think something is funny, they’re going to think something is funny. Maybe, I think black bags, when I see a black bag, they’re funny. They are not, it’s just an example, but maybe you have a story about a black bag or maybe you have something in your life or something that reminds of black bag. I have to put in a few words, a very quick premise and idea so you can see the world the way I see it so you can go, “Yeah. Black bags are funny.” Anything can be funny as long as you can see the right angle where it’s funny. That’s the difficulty.

In The Humor Code, we talked a little bit about this outsiderness. It’s common in comedy. It’s valuable outside of comedy. It can be valuable in science and in entrepreneurship and so on. Fundamentally, the way I’ve thought about comedy is what comics do is they point out what’s wrong with the world, but they do so obviously in a delightful fashion. It helps if you’re an outsider because it’s easier for you to see what’s wrong with the world. When you’re an insider, this is just the way the world is. It’s just normal and natural in that sense. You’re highlighting a thing that I haven’t thought that much about. As an outsider, how do I translate my different perspective? How do I highlight the wrongness of this thing to you? That sounds really challenging to do.

We all live in our own personal world. We can all be the outsider and that’s the beauty of comedy. You can talk about the same topic, ten different comics, and every one of them is going to have a different joke about it. Probably of all of the ten comedians, they thought about the first obvious joke on that topic first and then I’m like, “No. That’s not the joke because everyone is going to do it. It was how I relate to this?” That’s how your different world connects to the common world.

I’m fascinated by this idea of how persistence leads to creativity. A lay belief is that creative people have these moments of inspiration. This thing pops into their head, a light bulb over the head thing. The more I study and engage in creative endeavors, what I realized is it’s not that, it’s this idea of like, “Is this a solution?” “No, it’s not.” The early solutions, by nature of being early, are unlikely to be creative. The definition of creative I use is novel and appropriate. Does it solve the problem? Does it solve the problem in a way that other solutions don’t? To me, good jokes are novel. They have to be novel because they have to be new. They’re valued as and they have to solve a problem which is to make people laugh. Almost by virtue, the first joke you come up with or the first premise and punch you come up with is unlikely to be creative because it’s not novel. It’s so obvious.

Most of the time, the obvious is complicated. The creative is very simple. Let’s go back to the brewery. I actually learned a lot in that brewery. Another boss used to say, “If the solution is complicated, it’s not the solution.”

INJ 08 | Chorizo Sizzle Comedy
Chorizo Sizzle Comedy: If the solution is complicated, it’s not the solution.

I liked that idea. As a scientist, we always talk about parsimony. When choosing between two solutions, you always choose the simpler one. The answer to the question, you prefer the simpler one and that has a variety of benefits. In brewing, why is that the case?

For example, in this case, we were trying to make more batches a day to get the most of the productivity of the brew house. We did so many excel spreadsheets and timing every day or what time you start the million and what time this line is starting the mashing.

It’s a supply chain problem.

You find yourself stuck and then a lot of solutions will come like, “We have to do a spreadsheet of the spreadsheet of the spreadsheet, or we can get one guy to sit down here and always switch this valve, or we can bring a whole team to cut tubes and pipes and rearrange the whole.” All these solutions were great but are very complicated. This particular manager was obsessed and going, “No. We have to find the origin. It’s something very simple that we’re not seeing. Keep thinking. Keep persisting in a simple solution because this is all too complicated.” We cannot have a spreadsheet of a spreadsheet of a spreadsheet because it’s not going to stay for a long time ago. That habit is going to break because it makes no sense. We can’t have one person doing this thing just for that because it doesn’t make any sense. Maybe the option of cutting the pipes is the best one, but it needs a planning and stopping the line, and that is risky. We ended up trying harder and finding the easy solution. He was right. Sometimes the solution is right there but we couldn’t see it.

Did you come up with one?

No.

It would have been so great.

That company, I was the communicator. I was great at getting information from workers, getting information from the lab, and communicating that to the big brewers because I’m good with people and telling jokes. I was the liaison officer.

This notion of persistence and creativity, original and appropriate.

In a joke, that’s why working with people, I always get a comedy friend and have plenty of comedy friends that I can work with because they know my comedy, they know my persona on stage, and I know their comedy and the way they arrive and their persona. Sometimes I can’t see it and they go, “It’s just right there.”

They could reflect it back to you.

Say it this way and I go, “You’re right.”

[Tweet “Sometimes the solution is right there but we couldn’t see it.”]

Give everyone a feel for what is your persona on stage? What’s an example of a joke that you might be working on that you feel good about right now?

I’ll still be the immigrant, especially in Australia, especially if someone goes on stage with an accent they’re not used to. When I did comedy in Montreal, they’re like, “Yeah, Latino. We know you.” You don’t have to mention that. It’s certainly like, “Latino, like South America, tell us about that?”

When you’re in Australia, South America is far away.

It’s far away. They’re not used to our immigration. It’s different. I like to be very positive.

Do you have the good parts of being an immigrant?

Making fun of Aussies in a positive way. For example, have you seen any clips of mine on YouTube? The burning sausage sizzle instead of saying, “You guys are idiots. You’re eating something that is disgusting and it tastes like burnt and it doesn’t make any sense.” I go, “I’m becoming more Australian. I’m so proud. Now, I like sausage sizzles.” I describe sausage sizzles in a positive way, but still saying they’re burnt.

I’m finding that more and more is this notion of the reversal. It’s a very common comedy thing where you just take this thing that’s bad and then you flip it in a way to make it good, or this thing that is good, you flip and make it bad. There’s a comic buddy of mine. His name’s Jonathan Giles and he’s a young comic but he’s a very smart guy. He’s black guy and he does this joke about, “I’m starting to really feel bad for these white men. It’s just a really tough time to be a white man.” It’s a very funny bit and it’s just a classic reversal, which your first instinct is to just point out how awful white men are these days.

We’ve been talking about that’s a different perspective. Can I say this from a positive perspective? Can I say this from a negative perspective? That’s another tool to have like, “This is not bad. This is actually great. How can I talk about it?” For example, a joke that I’m working on right now, it’s not finally polished. I started describing how terrible the situation in my country is in a positive way, “Last year was a great year for my country. We broke world records on hyperinflation like 2,000%. Finally, my city in Caracas, Venezuela finally made it to be the most violent city in the whole world, take that Honduras.” Then I explained how the people say that first world country problems are a lot easier than third world country problems. I’m not sure about that because third world country problems are very simple, food medicine, money to pay ransom. At the end of the day, if you’re still alive, you dance Salsa because no one killed you. First world problems are very complex and overwhelming, human rights and global warming and animal cruelty, political correctness, racism, homophobia, trans phobia, refugees, the environment, pollution, plastic bags should, I hug people more? If you make it at the end of the day, you celebrate, you didn’t kill yourself.

I’m working on this show and I get to feel the connection because that’s another thing. Now, I’m not connecting with Australia. I’m connecting with first world country people. That’s the difference that I’m doing this year. It’s not just because you’re Australian, I’m going to talk about, “Bunnings, I know you. I’ve been there. I am living this,” and they go, “Thank you. You understand Bunnings. There’s not that many people that get it.” When I do that joke and I say, “You celebrate, you didn’t kill yourself,” there is a laugh and a sense of, “Thank you. We thought we were bad people because we had easy problems, first world problems. It’s true, we have to think about this stuff.” A premise that is not ready. Third World countries, you’re responsible to save yourself. In a first world country, you’re responsible to save others.

[Tweet “Great privilege comes with great responsibility.”]

There’s this level of responsibility that you have because you’ve made it, so to speak.

First of all, it’s a country privilege and it’s also a duty.

There is this notion of what are they saying, with great power comes great responsibility.

Great privilege comes with great responsibility.

I can see that’s a difficult joke. The first part of that joke is hard to get right. You’ve got to be careful about punching down. It’s hard for progressive-minded people to laugh at Venezuela’s woes that exist. How can you then make it okay?

I get away with it because I’m from Venezuela. I go, “When I’m laughing, we’re laughing with you.”

I know you’re trying not to consume. You’re trying to create. Is there anything that you’re reading, watching or listening to these days that stand out to you?

Recently a very fresh and new Dave Chappelle shows in Netflix. That’s the latest thing.

You thought they were really good?

Yes. Also, the new Patton Oswalt Special.

You’re consuming comedy?

Absolutely. I’m a fan of comedy as well. I love it. I like theory. I like eating it. I like making it.

Were you a beer drinker?

I am a beer drinker.

So similar thing.

I don’t drink spirits much.

In this country, you don’t want to drink spirits because they’re crazy expensive.

The beer is really good.

It is an amazing price difference. I’m like, “There’s alcohol on both of these things, people.”

It’s a bit expensive here.

Last question, what’s the secret to success that everybody knows but few people can do?

INJ 08 | Chorizo Sizzle Comedy
Chorizo Sizzle Comedy: There are so many definitions of success. The secret is to define what success is to you.

There are so many definitions of success. The secret is to define what success is to you. Sometimes you think you want the success of others, but you’re not sure. It’s like finding that problem, make it simple. What does it mean to be successful? I love this question. This is the best question to start a conversation with anybody that you connect with like a good friend. Let’s have a beer and you go, “What’s your definition of success?” Every single person has a different definition of success. For example, to have someone in my life so that I can give love and receive love. When I left Venezuela, I had a friend who told me, “Why are you leaving the country?” It wasn’t as bad as it is right now. “Why are you leaving the country? You have a radio show here. You’re doing comedy like someone here.” I went home that night thinking, “What does it mean for me to be someone?” For me, to be someone it’s not about being famous. It’s about if you disappear one day, how many people will notice and will care about that?

For me, success is to have friends around me. French Fringe, I just thought I’m not doing is this year. A couple of producers and people who work on French who are not close but we hang out when we do the festival, one of them was worried like, “You’re not here. Where are you? What’s happening?” As an immigrant who’s been in this country for six years, to have people that care about me is success because my family’s not here. It’s creating that network. There are a lot of books and interviews when people interview old people before they die and they go, “What would you do again?” Apparently, it’s all about people, people around you, affection. It’s not about the money they made. It’s relationships, and a very important one, the relationship with yourself.

What I hear you saying is the thing that most people can’t or won’t do is they’re not clear about what they want so they stumble around too much. I think that’s right. It actually relates to the creative work. If you don’t know exactly why you’re doing it or what you’re doing or what the output’s going to be, it becomes especially hard to not pick up your phone when you’re supposed to be working on it.

That’s my definition of success in a very personal way. People can have their success at work, in relationships, fitness, and health.

Just to know what those things are. That’s great. This has been a lot of fun.

Thank you, Peter.

I appreciate you doing it. Thanks for fitting me in.

Resources mentioned:

About Ivan Aristeguieta

INJ 08 | Chorizo Sizzle ComedyIvan Aristeguieta became a full time comedian after having a successful career as a Brew Master and Food Technologist in his home country of Venezuela. He left the Brewery but drinking beer is still part of his job. He quickly escalated to become part of the new Venezuelan comedy movement selling out shows around Venezuela and Miami-Florida (USA). On the year 2012 Ivan migrated to Australia and took the great challenge of performing comedy in a second language and aimed for Australian laughter. Six years after performing comedy for the first time in English Ivan is one happy comedy-migrant and he’s squeezing all the privileges the First-World can give him. From his own TV show, Lost in Pronunciation, his live stand-up TV special debut, Chorizo Sizzle, to be invited to perform in the prestigious Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal on 2017.

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the I’m Not Joking community today:

As seen on The Today Show

Learn more about the Solo Movement