Left-of-centre Irish comedian Aidan Killian is a former investment banker whose mission now is to “save the world one laugh at a time”. He’s sold out theatres in New York and London (his Edinburgh Fringe show last year was titled Jesus versus Buddha) and performed all over Asia and this Friday night he will perform at the Free the Bears fundraiser in Phnom Penh to build a new home for 12 bears (“the Dirty Dozen”) at Phnom Tamao zoo.
Question: You went from being an investment banker, regarded as one of the most amoral of all occupations, to being a comedian who wants to save the world “one laugh at a time”. Was there a transformative experience or moment that led to that change or have you always been a save-the-world type deep down inside?
Answer: I saw a colleague hold a Chinese factory child-slave down, screaming at him: “Make my Nike runners you little shit.” Well not quite, but one day my boss pissed me off, so like a sulky little child I quit. I enjoyed comedy so I said I would give it a shot, thinking that it would be more fun than being a banker or a Nike child-slave.
How do you think a comedian can save the world?
In what other occupation do you see people speak the truth? Comedians are lucky; we can use humour as a tool to speak the truth or, at least, our perceptions of the truth. How will that save the world? Well, they say that “the truth will set you free”. (Tell that to Chelsea Manning, or Edward Snowden of Julian Assange!)
Lefties are often seen as politically correct mungbean munchers and, worst of all, boring and unfunny. Do you think that’s a fair stereotype and how do you break out of that? On a related tip, how do can you manage to be funny without being on one extreme bland or on the other offensive?
Sometimes I’m called a “mungbean muncher” and sometimes I have offended mungbean munchers or Christians, non-Christians, Muslims, feminists activists, friends, relatives. But they are just humans choosing to be offended. I try to not focus on offending anyone, I just focus on what I want to say and then make it funny, some people laugh and some don’t. I aim to love what I say and some people will love it and some will hate it and that’s OK.
You did a show Jesus versus Buddha. Can you tell us a bit about that and then who you think would win in a face-off (bearing in mind you’re about to do a show in Cambodia, a highly Buddhistc country)?
I really love Buddha and Jesus. They overcame fear, reached a state of bliss and dedicated their lives to helping others. So I’m pretty much sure their face-off would be a giant energetic hug of infinite love and compassion . . . Or else they would arm wrestle and Ganesha (elephant god) would kick their asses.
What’s your take on comedy and religion. How do you think comedians should treat religious subjects? Would you wear a T-shirt with a picture of Muhammad on it?
They should treat it like any subject, make it funny and maybe even bring it’s shadow side into the light. I wouldn’t wear a Muhammad T-shirt because I would gain nothing from upsetting other human beings, not because I am afraid. All that Paris stuff is just government control nonsense.
What’s your favourite one-liner?
Mitch Hedberg was great at one-liners: “I don’t have a girlfriend. But I do know a woman who’d be mad at me for saying that.”
The Free the Bears fundraiser will also feature international acts Leandro Soares, from Brazil, Scotty Muldoon, from the UK, and Scotland’s Steven Halcrow as MC. Tickets are $5 each. The venue is Three Mangos located at #28 Street 360 and the show is set to start at 8pm. See here for more details on the project.