WIN! Interview: Ruben Paul, Stand-Up Comic

By Andrew Chin, February 23, 2016

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The quick-witted Californian comic “grew up in an all black neighborhood, went to an all Mexican high school, went to an all white church and shopped at a lot of Asian stores.” He’s toured the world with Russell Peters and returns to China after a sold out 2013 tour.

Congratulations on coming back to China. How was the experience of the last tour? 

I had a great time the last time I was there. The fans in China have been great to me. 

Is there anything you're planning to see and do this time around?

This will be my third time there, so I've done a lot of the touristy things. I'll just see what other adventures await.

You've toured several times around the world. Have you noticed a growth in international audiences to stand-up?

Definitely. Guys like Russell Peters have really opened up the market and introduced people to stand up comedy that have never been exposed to it; especially on a large scale performing in huge venues Then other North American Comedians followed the path that Russell blazed from Kevin Hart to Bill Burr to Gabriel Iglesias and a few others.


What are some of your favorite non-North America crowds to perform at?

I enjoyed playing in London, Australia, and South Africa. To be honest there hasn't been a place I haven't enjoyed playing abroad. Each place is different and I experience something unique in each place. I loved performing in Hong Kong and Singapore also. Those places have been very kind to me as well. Hong Kong was one of the first places internationally that embraced me.

Russell Peters just performed a huge show in Shanghai. What was it like touring the world with him?

Russell is one of my best friends and I'm truly grateful for the opportunities he has given me to expand my audience internationally. Traveling with him is awesome! Playing to sold out arenas around the world is an amazing experience. To hear the roar of laughter from 15-20 thousand people is exhilarating. Traveling has definitely rubbed off on my comedy. My comedy is very personal and autobiographical so those experiences will organically find its way into my show.

Any embarrassing stories about Russell?

I'm sure I have a bunch but it probably wouldn't be appropriate for publication. Trust me, we had some great times and big laughs on and off stage! They're probably more embarrassing stories about me. Some I may share while performing in China.

Besides stand-up, are there any projects that you are currently working on?

Yes, I'm working on a few major television projects right now in the States that I'm incredibly excited about. Collaborating with some  big name talented people. It's in the beginning stages but I’m looking forward to doing more acting on American television and doing movies. So stay tuned. 

Also, I’m in the process of shooting my hour comedy special. There has been a lot of interest and I'm excited and grateful. It's just about choosing where I'm going to film it and presenting it. That should happen this year.

Kung Fu Komedy is organizing the first China International Stand Up Festival. As a comedian, how have festivals effected your career from when you're starting out to now?  

Festivals have changed a lot but it's always fun to hang out and perform with your peers. It's great for networking and securing work from comedy promoters around the world. The only problem I've seen is a lot of festivals have been put on just to make money. There's nothing wrong with that but the level of talent isn't always at it's best because there is no real criteria for being involved, which I feel isn't fair to the audience. The guys that run Kung Fu Komedy are great and I know they'll put on a great festival.

Do you have any tips for any of the aspiring comedians who might be doing stand-up for the first time as part of this festival?

You have to just do the work. Meaning, perform as much as you can because the more you perform the more comfortable you will be on stage. Also if you make a decision to be a stand up comedian respect the art form. It's bigger than all of us. Stand up was here before us and will be here after us. 

Lastly just perform from your heart. There are so many different types of comedians. No style is better than the other, it just goes by personal preference. If you perform from your heart, you will develop an authentic and genuine style of comedy. I think some comedians do what they think people want or are trying to be someone they're not just to get laughs. I think most comedians have been guilty of that including myself. Be patient, it takes time but the comedians I personally enjoy the most are the most honest whatever that truth may be.

What's the best way to get a reaction from a crowd when you only have a limited set time?

I don't approach comedy in a way to get a reaction. I have something to say that I believe is funny and I just say it. Time only matters in terms of how much time I actually have to say what I have to say. So depending on the time I'll choice what story or thoughts I have that will work in that alotted time. 

Following your China shows, what are your plans?

Going back to the States and continue working on these projects. Also have a bunch of US dates then in July I have some more international gigs.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Looking forward to my return to China and for those reading this they can anticipate a great time! They can escape from the stresess of everyday life even if just for a night. We all need a break and the world needs to laugh.

Ruben Paul's China tour:

> Chengdu: Feb 23, 8pm, RMB80-100. Chengdu Bookworm.
> Hangzhou: Feb 24, 8.30pm, RMB120-160. Carbon.
> Suzhou: Feb 25, 8.30pm, RMBTBA. The Camel Suzhou.
> Shanghai: Feb 26-27, 8pm and 10pm (Fri), 8.30pm (Sat), RMB170-200. Kung Fu Komedy Club.
> Beijing:Feb 28, 8pm, RMB170-200. Bookworm Beijing.


We're giving away a pair of tickets to Paul's Shanghai and Beijing show.

For your chance to win, sign up for That's Shanghai's weekly newsletter and keep an eye out for the giveaway details which will be  sent out on Wednesday, February 24. Not already a subscriber? You can sign up for it by clicking right here.

For your chance to win, sign up for That's Beijing's weekly newsletter and keep an eye out for the giveaway details which will be  sent out on Wednesday, February 24. Not already a subscriber? You can sign up for it by clicking right here.

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