Interview: Li’i Alaimoana on Minority Rapport

Li’i Alaimoana is one of the 2017 Billy T Award nominees. You can buy tickets to his 2017 New Zealand Comedy Festival show, Minority Rapport here:

Who are you and how did you get started in comedy?

I’m Li’i Alaimoana. Born and proudly raised in Wellington, NZ, with Samoan heritage. I’ve always loved Stand-up comedy. Since the age of 7 when I saw my first comedy special on TV. But it just seemed impossible to make that many people laugh. It was crazy awesome. I’ll never forget that feeling. In 2010, on a dare, I took to the stage at an open mic night. It was addictive. There was something very unique and rewarding seeing people laughing; smiling, and enjoying life – if only for six minutes. I did it got a few months after that, but my wife and I made the decision to move to Canada so it pretty much ended there.

What inspired your Comedy Fest show?

 I took what made me love stand up comedy to begin with (Richard Prior, Paul Mooney, Eddie Murphy, George Wallace, Bernie Mac) and as respect to them all, put together a show with stories and songs based around my upbringing in a strict Samoan family. The greats became greats because they were relatable. It was what garnered my attention, and for that, I wouldn’t be who I am today as a Comedian.

What’s it like being a Billy T nominee?

At first it was quite surreal. In 2015 I made a list of goals to reach over a five year period in comedy. I really underestimated myself, because after bring nominated for a Billy T, having a show in an International Comedy Festival, those are all my goals achieved. But in all honesty, in regards to being a nominee now, I’m perfectly happy with staying a nominee. It hasn’t changed my life at all, and I’m still, and will always be the same guy. I know that whoever wins this year is going to take it to the next level. At least I can say, “I was nominated with that person…” It’s the small victories that define who we are. The great victories define who we are about to become.

Why should people go and see your Comedy Fest show?

I guess if you’re really into supporting local comedy, you should definitely come watch my show, and any other locals with shows. But if that isn’t your thing, then come along if you’re into original comedy songs and parodies of popular songs. It’s a mix of Stand-up comedy, and musical comedy. And if you like the show I guarantee you’ll get to shake my hand, take selfies, and who knows – I might end up being your sober driver.

Describe your Comedy Fest show in 3 words

Smooth. Rough. Both.

What’s your favourite part about the NZ Comedy Fest?

It’s my first ever NZ Comedy Festival. So I guess, looking ahead, the whole festival. Everything about it. The eclectic mix of shows. The gala nights. Meeting comedians from around the world. J & M’s after every show in Wellington. Staying with my family in Auckland.

What’s the most important thing to you about doing comedy?

Before every set/show, I take a minute to myself, I pray, and acknowledge everyone that has helped me get this far. That’s the most important thing for me. It has never been about me when I go on stage. It’s about the audience, the people and the upbringing that got me to this point. I’m not a practicing religious person. But I’ve always believed a person’s faith, in whatever they believe in, whether it’s God, or Science, shouldn’t be judged on attendance, but measured by their will and ability to avoid being a f***wit.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into comedy?

Everyone bombs. So that’s the last thing that should be on your mind. Everyone is different. So don’t think too much about winning over an entire crowd. Give yourself goals. If it’s a hobby, don’t get angry if you can’t book a gig – remember, you have to prove yourself. So even as a hobby, if you want to keep getting on stage, you have to work.  But if it’s something you really want to pursue, before you get on stage, before every set, set yourself a very small goal to start with, whether it’s to make a few people laugh, or whether it’s to remember that a gag has to be delivered a certain way – whatever it is, make it a small goal, and then keep building on them at every show. It helps you take your mind off the obvious fears of public speaking, like tanking, or freezing etc.

Aside from your own, what are three comedy fest shows people should go and see?

Jerome Chandrahasen’s Five Fun Facts About Falons:
Sera Devcich & Savanna Colton Unstoppable
Honestly, there’s far too many to choose from. These are the ones I’ll be going to watch for sure, plus so many more.

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