Ashwin Segkar has lived an interesting life. He was born in India but through his life has lived in a number of countries around the world before calling Brisbane his home. He’s gained a lot of respect as a comedian over a very short space of time, regularly leaving audiences in fits of laughter. Like every superhero however, he had his origin story, and before Ashwin was a regular name on the Brisbane circuit, his introduction to stand up was a little different.
“A lot of my friends were having kids and settling down and that’s like a nightmare to me. I thought. Stand up sounded like a safer alternative. As a kid I was always into writing and performing, but I was always too scared to make a career out of it so I kept putting it off for years. My first attempt at stand up was when I was seven, it was a school play. It was a drama, I think it was Goldilocks. I tried to do an improvised political joke about the Labor party in the middle of the play in front of 200 parents. I think I’d just heard other people talking about it. I didn’t perform again until years later.”
Not until Ashwin was a fully grown adult did he have another go at stand up, achieving more in his first set than some comedians do throughout their career, reaching the Raw comedy competition state final.
“Raw was my first proper gig. I just invited some friends along. Half of them were like “Why is he even doing this? This is going to be horrible.” They were even more scared than I was. That was my entry into comedy and then I wished I hadn’t waited so long. Raw’s good, but it’s also good to be done with it and focus on other things.”
Each comedian takes draws inspiration from different sources for their comedy, I asked Ashwin how he writes.
“I used to write in the park because I was always too scared to perform on stage. I spent months writing a routine and just saying it to myself. An iguana was probably the first thing I ever performed to at the Botanical Gardens. Then this guy told me to leave, I think I must have muscled in on someone’s turf. He was homeless, it was where he sleeps and I was doing my tight five in his bedroom. I thought it was probably safer to go to Logan and do an open mic night.”
Ashwin’s multi-cultural background has given him a different perspective on life and he brings this to his comedy style. He describes what he does as “A mixture of stories and observations. It’s slightly absurd cultural humour”. What this doesn’t encapsulate is how ridiculously likeable he is. He could pretty much get away with saying whatever he wants with his natural charm, but Ashwin isn’t the sort of comedian to punch down. As far as inspirations go, he had this to say.
“Growing up I used to watch a lot of Russell Peters and I really I like Chris Rock’s over the top delivery. At uni I was into Andy Kaufman after watching Man on the Moon and at a talent show in undergrad I did a ‘comedy magic’ bit which involved making a flower disappear and then reappear out of a plastic sex sheep’s butthole. I miss that stuff, but haven’t found a way to do it well at open mics and clubs yet. I talk about race maybe two thirds of the time. I don’t have that extroverted personality though, I’m a bit more quiet and dry on stage. I don’t really try to copy the people I admire, I just see what comes out naturally from my own personality and writing.”
Ashwin’s comedy is not just limited to the stage. He has produced a number of sketch comedy videos with Changer Studios, including Creative Direction, Nightmare On Bill’s Street & The Worst Audition I’ve Ever Seen. He was a writer on the children’s TV series Boymongoose, best known for their Bollywood-tinged viral rendition of the 12 Days Of Christmas with over nine million views on YouTube.
“That was ten years ago now. Me and some friends were in a terrible band, we made awful music and all had very different tastes. We spent a year together making nothing. Then just as a lark we decided to make a comical Indian version of 12 Days Of Christmas. That then got picked up on a local radio station and they played it and brought us in to do an interview. We thought “this is alright, people seem into this” so we made a YouTube video with an animator friend. Then that went viral and it took off from there”.
More recently Ashwin seems to be popping up on the radio in a number of places including as a panellist on Eat The Week on 612 ABC Brisbane. I asked how that came about.
“I’m riding that token brown guy wave at the moment. I went to a gig where there was a journalist in the audience recording it and she said “Hey, we’re doing a panel show at the moment, do you want to come and join in?”, then later she said they were going to be talking about an Indian festival, “You’re Indian, do you want to talk about it?”. One thing led to another. I don’t want to do just stand up, I want to get involved in commentary, making videos and a few other things.”
Ashwin’s a man of many talents whose insightful and quick thinking nature makes him a name to look out for. His incredible performance earlier in the year at Speechless showed he can also think on his feet and has a knack for improvising. Come see for yourself at our next Comedy Commentary Cinema event on Wednesday 12th November where he’ll be one of our special guests talking over the cult classic Killer Workout.