BarakaBits sat down with Jordanian-American comedian Ramzy Sweis to talk all things comedy, jokes and the ultimate value of laughter.
1) Ramzy, do you write your own routines?
Yes. Although I have hundreds of strangers, friends, and family members telling me jokes to use or have. I tell them I’ll use it and give them credit and they chill. The joke makes us, we don’t make the joke. Thanks unwillingly to social media, we’re in the golden age of comedy. Now, everyone’s a “comedian”. Comics have a powerful message to portray like the Riddler. Words are magic. Laughter is an ice breaker: it breaks the mold, cuts tension. To quote Abraham Lincoln, it’s the quickest way to please someone who doesn’t like you. Class clowns are the life of parties. We need to harness this power and channel it in order to bring light to grim matters!
2) Where do you get your material?
Misdirection and the element of surprise. Some call me a “fall guy.” As a graduate of Second City, I was taught practicalities are the recipe for jokes. Others believe vulnerability a.k.a. improv. Many people won’t try comedy though they make people laugh. Comedy is an opportunity to be spontaneous even if it is at the crowd’s expense and you lean on crowd work.
3) What happens if they don’t laugh?
Ebb and flow. Use that burning bridge of silence to segue or alter your delivery.
4) How do you deal with hecklers?
I don’t pull a Richard Pryor at the Sunset Strip in Vegas and walk off stage, that’s for sure. However, Pryor booked the same event after, was heckled again, yet had let them walk into it. He had a battle of wits!
5) How long have you been performing stand-up comedy?
My first show was December 18th 2010. My sister read my entire set for me. My brain was inoperable.
6) What process do you use to develop your stand-up comedy material?
The keyboard is my piano. Some people say Go with God. I say, “Go with Gut.” It is a calling; I am answering to bring goodness to this world via I Never Repeat a Joke. My gift and my curse. My dyslexia. My superpower. I am put on Earth for no other reason. Ask me to do this 20 years ago, I’d have been game.