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March 17, 2014 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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An Interview

Alexander Sparrow is a third-year English Literature and Theatre student, but he cheerfully markets himself as “the best thing that’s happened to the world since North Korea became a country and people stopped talking about that guy that climbed Mount Everest.” I had the delight of interviewing the scallywag.
 

What were your recent Fringe Festival shows centred around?

One was called de Sade about the Marquis de Sade – one of the world’s darkest minds and a renowned philosopher/pornographer. The other was How to Pick Up Women, though it’s less about weightlifting and more about seduction. I played five of the greatest pick-up artists. Both were one-man shows.

How did you handle a topic like ‘How to pick up women’ without becoming a misogynist prick?

I didn’t. Among the pieces of quality advice given (as different characters) were reliable hints like ‘make her feel ugly and take advantage of her while she’s down’, right through to ‘pretend you’re physically disabled so she feels pity and can’t help but talking to you’. I’m a comedian; if you take everything I say literally, I’m not to be blamed. That said, there’s always a little bit of backwards logic that should make you sit up and think ‘that makes sense, even though it shouldn’t’. Also, women are clearly better than men in every way – except for pay rates, childbirth and G-strings (which are uncomfortable) – and I respect them for that.

Do you consider yourself a master of picking up aforementioned women?

What is the correct answer to this? It’s either yes, I’m irresistable – a massive claim; or no, I’m a failure – a reputation-destroying statement. I pick yes.

What does your girlfriend make of this?

*girlfriends

What challenges does working alone bring? And what reliefs?

The only challenge in one-man shows is the organisation. All work, deadlines, and problems go through me – in any other format, I would be concentrating entirely on creativity. It can be very stressful, especially putting on two solo shows in one month.

That said, there is no better format than the one-person show. I have complete creative control, I can make any changes I like, and it’s my show. When people come up and say they love one of them, I know for a fact it’s down to the work I’ve put in. I also do it for practical reasons. I can tour a show whenever I like, I keep all the money, and I can get out into crowds and make sure they’re having a great time. Solo shows are the one way to guarantee I get paid for performing, which is what I’m here to do.

How did you become an established comedian on the Wellington scene? How did you start out?

I started doing weekly gigs at The Medicine at The Cavern Club on Wednesdays, and Raw Meat Monday at Fringe Bar. The most important thing is to have goals and back yourself. I put on shows and I make my own opportunities. Waiting for weekly gigs to come to you guarantees stand-up will stay a hobby. You have to work hard.

Why do you maintain this public persona of being so opinionated – often to the point of being an arsehole?

My job is to say what I think, not what everyone already believes. When I say North Korea is my favourite country because it’s super-efficient and everyone feels complete loyalty to their leader, people remember it. Nobody cares about a Labour-supporting comedian; I say vote Colin Craig! He stands for what he believes in. All I’m saying is New Zealand should be a dictatorship and Winston Peters should be our foreign-affairs minister. Also, New Zealand is a boring place. Put me on the $5 note pulling the finger with the slogan ‘New Zealand, fuck yeah!’ instead of that dude that climbed a hill. Hillary was a beekeeper, and our national bird can’t even fly. We need to sort a few things out.

See what I mean about you being an arsehole?

I have an opinion, and it’s the right one. No apologies given.

What can we expect from you next?

It Was Supposed to Be a Joke is my solo show in the NZ International Comedy Festival – if you want opinions, jokes, and a bloody good time, book now.

What advice would you give to a budding stand-up enthusiast?

Watch a lot, write a lot, perform a lot. Write about what people want to hear about, in a new way.

Highlight of your Fringe Festival?

On the last night, the show started late because somebody had stolen the whip. My mum ran to Peaches and Cream and purchased an $80 riding crop for me to be whipped with because all the other whips had been sold (to me, on previous nights). My mother bought sex gear for me so I could be whipped in front of a paying crowd. It’s comedy gold – no one has a better story than that.

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