Aurie Styla has something to smile about
He may have grown up as a rather ugly child (his words, not ours) but comedian Aurie Styla finds himself faced this weekend with his greatest challenge yet: making you laugh.
Having independently sold out his first live stand-up special, Aurie Styla (his real name) has built up a pretty solid reputation on the UK comedy circuit as a consistent provider of laughs, chortles, and even the occasional hearty guffaw. No stranger to the cruelty comedy can often offer up as a mistress, Aurie has successfully managed to seduce the scene with his feel-good brand of humour and effervescent smile.
A man whose sheer passion for his craft is guaranteed to get you at the very least smiling along with him, Aurie kicks off the first series of ‘Stand-Up Dubai’ at Tribeca this Saturday 5th August.
In order to find out exactly what Aurie’s always smiling about (and to possibly nab the number of his source), Esquire interviewed the man for an insight into what it takes to be a professional comedian.
ESQ: Have you always wanted to be a comedian?
From a young age I always knew wanted to do something to do with entertainment. And anything that I did try my hand at, things like poetry and music, they always had an element of humour to them. So I kind of knew comedy was what I wanted to do eventually.
So how did your parents react when you first told them you wanted to become a stand-up?
With my dad it was fine because he’s generally very liberal. He’s always said: "Just do your thing. As long as you do the right thing." Now, he’d never actually tell you what the "right thing" was, but as long as you did that “right thing” then you were cool with him. My mum was a different story. She’s got more of a business head and was honestly not very keen on it. As supportive as she was about the whole thing, it just wasn’t really the field she wanted me to go in, especially with her being such a prominent business figure at the time. So, yeah, it was a mixed response.
Were you always the class clown at school then?
I think to be a comedian you do have to have an element of natural humour to you, but being a class clown doesn't always equate to being a great comedian. There's more to it than just being a bit of a clown. Personally, when I was younger I wasn't so much the class clown as I was the guy in the friendship group with the most banter. I was the one that could always make the others laugh and being able to do that tends to give you an edge when it comes to certain situations.
I guess it comes in fairly handy when impressing the ladies…
Exactly! Especially if you didn't have the attractive factor as a kid. I mean, I wasn't very attractive as a child so I tried to use humour as my way in. I’m firm believer in keeping it real and I’m keeping it real when I tell you I wasn't a good-looking kid!
Your style of comedy is quite catered towards the UK. Have you planned to alter any of your material for the Middle Eastern audience?
Obviously I'm a UK comic and a lot of my material come from experiences I’ve had over there but a lot of the stuff I talk about are things which are pretty much universal. I've performed outside the UK a lot of times and I’ve always believed that one thing that you should never have to do as a comedian is completely change your material. Obviously you should alter some of the more niche references but if you have to change your entire routine just to suit the crowd that means that your material isn't as good as it should be.
Would you say the advent of social media such as YouTube and Twitter has changed the game in terms of what it means to be a comedian?
I think it certainly has. Around 10 years ago you’d have to go out to a show or a comedy club in order to see comedy. Nowadays you can just go online and watch a few clips on YouTube. Because of that it’s changed the platform that a lot of comedians use to deliver their material. As a comedian it's important to know which lane to use now, so whilst the internet has meant that people no longer have to leave their homes to watch their favourite stand-ups, it’s also added a bit of a new dynamic to the role of a comic.
So is being popular online something you ever worry about? Do you have that aim of going viral in the back on your mind when you’re performing on stage?
No, never. If I'm being honest I would rather people come out to see me in person. There's an atmosphere when you're watching someone live which you simply can’t recreate online. If were to I do a comedy show on stage and my aim was "let me try and hit this joke for it to go viral" then I wouldn’t be properly focused on the crowd that was right in front of me. After all, they're the audience that's come and paid to see you and you should be performing for them. You're in the wrong frame of mind if you're trying to perform for an online audience who aren’t even there.
What’s been your worst on-stage experiences?
Well I’m fairly happy to say I’ve only ever been booed off stage once. It was on this program called The Gong Show - which is a show that's essentially made for people to get booed off. You go on and there's about 20 or 30 other acts involved and you have to try and engage the audience for at least 5 minutes. I think I ended up lasting about 3 and a half minutes. Which, all things considered, isn’t actually that bad! I didn't really think of it as a great experience at the time though. Now I’m obviously able to look back and realise that's it’s just how the game of being a comedian works. It's like a boxing match really – you're always going to try your best to win but you also have to expect that the other guy is going to try to punch you in the face.
Have you got any good knock-knock jokes?
Are there any good knock-knock jokes? I don't think a genuinely funny knock-knock joke even exists!