FHM Magazine has had a glorious tradition of featuring hot babes in various states of undress. So if I told you the Singapore version’s November 2011 issue (on stands now!) has an Asian centerfold showing some very prominent naked body parts, you might think it’s the girl on the cover.
Aaaand… you’d be wrong.
It’s this guy instead:
FHM Q&A: PAUL OGATA
Stand-up comedian talks Gaddafi, Tila Tequila and sexy men.
When/How did you realise that stand-up comedy was what you wanted to do?
As an 11-year-old, I was on the city’s championship basketball team. Then everyone else got taller. So I stayed in and listened to comedy albums instead of playing outside. The comedians were magical puppeteers, making the audience laugh and cheer. That’s when I knew I wanted to be just like them.
Do you rehearse or test your material beforehand, or do you just wing it?
It’s a good idea to test your material at open mics first. Just so you get used to hearing yourself say the words and commit them to muscle memory.
A lot of people think they’re funny, when really they’re not. How did you know you were funny?
I was one of those people. Thought I was funny. And the second time I ever did comedy, I drove down with a girl I was dating and another friend to the comedy club. After dying a miserable death on stage, the car ride home was deafeningly quiet. I knew I was getting funnier when there would be more conversation after my shows.
What do you do when no one laughs?
You either move on quickly to the next joke or you acknowledge it. Johnny Carson was a master of “savers,” or lines you use when a joke doesn’t go well. He would even do jokes that he knew would not work just so he could come back with a fiercely funny saver. All that, of course, is only what the audience sees. Internally, I’m curled up on the shower floor like Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas. That’s right, when you don’t laugh at my jokes you are raping my soul hole.
If comedians had battles similar to rap battles, who would you pick to battle against and why?
Comedians battle each other all the time, so I would still pick a rapper to battle with. And I’d go with Common, since he’s a vegetarian and technically he can’t “have beef” with anybody.
What would you do if the sound engineer was off duty, and your mic went dead midway through a joke?
One of my favorite shows I ever did was when the sound system quit about 5 minutes into a show I was doing. The balance of the hour was great fun, making fun of the group of technicians behind me and just being looser in general. When things go horribly wrong, it’s a golden opportunity to bring your audience in the moment with you. They grasp the idea that live stand-up comedy is dangerous and delicious.
What’s the worst joke you’ve ever heard?
Last year after a show in Las Vegas a drunk guy tried over 20 times to tell me the same joke. For half an hour he failed and failed again. And in the end he still didn’t get it right. It literally went from “What did the bathtub say to the toilet” to “What the bathup say potato” on his final try. (The answer is: “You may get more ass than me, but I don’t take shit from anyone.”)
Which would you find more enjoyable: A stand-up routine that brings the house down, or finding out you’ve been declared FHM’s Sexiest Man in the Known Universe?
I believe in the multiverse theory of several unrealized parallel dimensions coexisting simultaneously. So I might possibly already be the Sexiest Man in Another Unknown Universe Where Ryan Reynolds, Justin Timberlake And Kellan Lutz Were All Disfigured In A Terrible Building Collapse. So I’ll stick with bringing the house down. And hopefully it comes down on Ryan, Justin and Kellan so that I might also reign Sexily Supreme in this universe as well.
Mark Twain said, “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” Does this saying unnerve you, since the government might actually deem you a weapon of mass destruction?
In the last year, I have sent two people to the hospital during my shows (a stroke victim who drooled on himself and a heart attack victim who knocked over his table of drinks) and one lady told me she had to throw away her panties mid-show because she wet them. Any day now, I fully expect to be thrown into a white van by men in suits and earpieces, then transported to a government laboratory where they try to extract and weaponize my comedy. It won’t end well (or dry) for them.
Do you base your material on everyday occurrences, news or personal/family stories, or are they all made up?
All of the above. I’ll hit on current events, the thing that pissed me off on the way to the show, something my wife did last week and I’ll imagine what it’s like to be a superhero on his day off.
Tell us about bizarre writing habits you practise when coming up with material? (eg. Can only write lying down, or while listening to a certain type of music.)
It helps if I close my eyes when I’m writing. I don’t know why that is. I keep a notepad by my bed so that if I wake up with a really good idea I can jot it down immediately. Doesn’t always work out, as I woke up one time to see that I’d scribbled, “Talk about the severed head.”
How important is improvisation in your line of work?
Improv is tapping into that magic ether. It is a great tool for coming up with new material while at the same time, wildly fun for both comic and audience. For me it is extremely important. I make sure to carefully write at least 2 hours of improvisation every day. I kid! I kid!
When someone asks you what you do for a living, do you actually say you’re a comedian? If not, what is your response?
Why lie? You are what you are. Always be proud of what you do. Unless you’re the guy that cleans portable toilets at fairs. That guy should totally tell everyone he’s a comedian.
Have you ever told a joke then regretted it immediately?
No, that’s part of the process. Create it and send it on its way. I have regretted not telling jokes when I had planned to.
You are performing onstage when someone who looks like Gaddafi boos you, how do you react?
How can I be sure it’s Gaddafi and not a 90-year-old Chinese transvestite with a bad perm? Either way, I bag him and sell him to the NTC for the reward money.
How do you know where to draw the line between ‘harmless joke’ and ‘insensitive jerk’?
They can be one and the same. Leave your issues at the door when going to a comedy show. That being said, you know where the line is only after you cross it. And that is the exciting tight rope we walk as comedians.
If you had to include one of these in your hospitality rider, which would it be?
a) Lozenges spiked with tequila
b) A bottle of tequila spiked with lozenges
c) A massage by Tila Tequila
The obvious answer is (c). But with Tila, you can safely say you’ll be getting more than a massage. Where’s the surprise in that? You want someone sexy but not skanky so you enjoy the massage and are pleasantly thrilled when it goes all happy ending on you. Is there a Renee Chardonay? Now she sounds like someone who could pull that off.