Daniel-Ryan Spaulding, the Internationally-Touring Canadian Stand-Up Comedian, has performed in 35 countries worldwide. His intelligent cultural and social observations are delivered with a high energetic, flamboyant style that is impossible to resist! Daniel is performing in the Netherlands now. expatsHaarlem interviewed him on a hot summer evening over Dutch beer and bitterballen.
I: Daniel – welcome to Amsterdam! What brings you here?
D: Thanks! Its great to be here! I’ve been spending more and more time in the Netherlands since September. The international community is huge here, so its a great fit for my comedy. I’ve also been trying to get some web-projects off the ground.
I: Sounds exciting! Tell us more.
D: Well, I’ve been shooting some youtube web videos. There are lots of great videographers & filmmakers in Holland, so it was really easy finding a partner. We have shot three so far: “Shit Expats in the Netherlands Say” which examines Dutch expat culture, and “If Gay Guys Said the Shit Straight People Say” which is a fun role reversal the social interactions of gay & straight people.
I: We saw it – it went viral!
D: Yup! That video is at nearly 1.7 million hits! Crazy! So I’m going to keep doing web videos and hopefully try to pitch a sketch comedy show to a Dutch network like Humor TV or OUT TV.
I: Let’s talk about your stand-up show: Expat Life. To start from the beginning: What does “expat” mean to you?
D: I see Expat Life, as the life of a Global Citizen. In some ways, I think people are becoming less and less nationalistic in terms of their identity. We don’t need to live our entire lives in the country where were born & raised. Personally, I never really felt connected to Canadian society. I always wanted to live an international life, and travel, and explore other countries and cultures.
I: Was that the reason you choose Expat Life as the title of your show?
D: Yes, its a good title.. and sums up the show perfectly.
I: What’s more important to you, travel or comedy?
D: Travel & Comedy are so combined in my life, it’s hard to think of them separately. I suppose comedy is more important, because I wouldn’t be able to travel as much as I do if I didn’t have any work! I learn a lot by doing comedy in foreign countries. To do it well, you have to be a constant observer with good intentions. It’s easy to get caught up in the “obvious” jokes or stereotypes about different countries, so I try to dig deeper in my act by comparing and contrasting social behavior, drawing out new ideas, and (hopefully!) great comedy.
I: Nomadic life forever?
D: I prefer to live and perform in Europe. At least, this is what I think today.. and I am looking for a, not to say “home”, “base”. I am trying to build up a life in Holland since the spirit of the Netherlands is so inclusive. Its a good fit for me. I love the Netherlands because individuals can relatively be themselves. It’s not only a cliché, it’s really a melting pot of different cultures!
I: Do you often go back to your “home” Canada?
D: Mmm…. I do, sometimes, but don’t feel the need to go too often or to live there and even less to be there at Christmas; I hate the pressure of the Holidays. I would rather be on a beach in the South of Spain getting drunk.
I: You are the youngest of six children?
D: Wow! You are prepared! Yes, the youngest of six. I read that a lot of comedians are the “youngest child” – I guess we spent our whole childhoods desperate for attention!
I: You describe your show as: “a wild ride through the world of expat culture, national identity, gender and sexuality, politics, stereotypes – and the perils of dating a German”?
D: Haha! Yes, I have some great stories about my German ex-boyfriend. The Dutch love making fun out of the Germans – the Germans don’t seem to mind too much.
I: You perform your show in many countries. Do you notice big differences in the audience in the different countries?
D: Yes and no. I think I’ve worked hard to develop a strong international act that could work anywhere. I do have material that is specific to certain countries. But since the show is mainly about my personal experiences, it tends to be relatable to most people. I’ve learned over the years how to really connect with an audience, hook them in and keep them engaged.
I: I saw the YouTube video that went viral around the international community in Norway: “Shit Expats in Norway Say”.
D: Yes! That video became very popular in Norway! My show sold out for weeks and weeks in Oslo from then on. I realized then that my show works really well as a social event for Expats. People come to the show alone or with friends, and the show loosens them up. They meet people, have drinks afterwards and they really connect with people.
I: Is it always the same show?
D: Yes and no. The show does evolve and I’m always writing new material and perfecting older material. I do adapt the show a little bit depending on what country or city I might be in as well.
I: Have you performed in other Dutch cities?
D: Yes! In Utrecht, Den Haag, Vleuten and Rotterdam. I hope to do a big tour of the country with Expat Life this autumn. I do my show regularly in Amsterdam at Vibes Cafe, which is an awesome Italian Cafe in Oud-Zuid. I prefer performing for an international crowd, since an all-Dutch audience can be a little stiff sometimes!
I: We saw that you were in a few films too. The college comedy “Ratko the Dictator’s Son” and a small part in “Fairly Odd Parents”.
D: Haha, yes, I used to be an actor in my early 20s. But I didn’t enjoy the business side of the industry. I couldn’t stand being at the mercy of agents, casting directors and producers. I always hated the process of auditioning and others being in charge of getting him the parts they wanted him to do. I’m an independent person and I was determined to create my own career. Stand-up is the perfect fit for me.
I: So, you have a varied background in writing, film & comedy. Where does your future lie?
D: I’m already living my dream, but I want to see it grow and evolve to a larger scale. But I’m happy as long as I am making good comedy, living a good life and helping people connect.
I: That is what we hope to do with expatsHaarlem!
D: Perfect! Then we have something in common! Cheers ladies!