Aidan Park is a stand up comedian, and star of "Aidan On The F List" and "A Brand New Yay!".
How did you get into acting?
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved singing! And so in high school during freshman year I decided that I wanted to audition for the spring musical called. Where is Charley? I don’t know how I got in the show but I did! I stuck to it, and I think I would have to say that if there was ever any evidence that people can get better at doing something, they are genuinely awful at… My dancing and my acting abilities, approve it! Ha ha
Do you find developing a comedy series easy or hard, and what's your experience with scripted TV shows?
I haven’t written traditionally, literary TV, show, per se… Like a sitcom like Seinfeld, or Friends. But I do get opportunities often to help punch up or rework a lot of the story so in that regard, I usually have a base product to work with! And I find the process actually relatively easy as long as I have a clear understanding of what the tone that the project as a whole is moving in the direction of.
I’ve also had a chance to develop a couple of scripted and unscripted reality television shows like my “Aidan on the F-List” I would say I have a really great understanding of reality television shows, and it’s ins and outs… so again as long as I have a clear idea, and direction of the tone of the overall show, I feel the writing is easy!
Usually the issues come when there’s too many ideas, being shoved into one product, or too many cooks in the kitchen, providing too many different tones, that all must be included, which creates a hodgepodge of confusion.
What's the hardest to write, a stand up comedy show, a TV show, or a book?
The book was the most difficult to write. When you’re writing a TV show usually the concept as one removed from you… For example, you might be writing about a group of friends or writing about for senior citizens living in Miami.
Stand-up comedy or a non-fiction book if it’s done well is usually more personal. What makes the book harder than stand-up comedy? Is that with stand-up comedy? You get immediate feedback. Like you will know whether a joke works right away from the feedback from the audience.
When you’re writing a book about your life, you are required to be deeply personal, and you have less of a sense of whether things are landing or not… You have a smaller pool of opinions to pull from such as your editor or publisher etc.
But you really have to follow your instincts because I remember I had a first draft of my book “The Art of Being Yay” and it really didn’t work… But I was being told that it was a great book. In retrospect, I found out that the people I was working with were under some kind of time crunch because of a deadline we had to meet and so their main concern was not the quality of the book, but rather their deadline.
I had to walk away and restart the project from scratch as a result! So, providing deeply personal content, with limited feedback can be difficult.
What are the advantages of doing a "reality show" over other formats?
For me personally, I understand the unscripted format. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that most of the television shows that I end up watching are reality shows.
Honestly, it’s cheaper to make, easier to sell, and more people want to enter the literary world, then the unscripted world, because every standup has dreams of becoming a writer, and it usually involves scripted. The reality format had a really opens doors for me and giving me opportunities that I never would’ve had if I had pursued the traditional literary path.
Why do you do dark humor in your stand up comedy sets?
As I was going down to comedy, I found that they were topics that I found myself being free to discuss on stage because I was afraid of audience reaction or because I was ashamed. like my experience with suicidal ideation, or my HIV diagnosis or my past homelessness, etc..
Somewhere along my standard journey, I decided that if I was afraid of something I would push myself to discuss it in front of an audience, and I actually found that Comedy and storytelling was a great device to bring the room together. And I was surprised and moved by how much support I got by discussing difficult topics on stage.
For instance, I talked about being HIV positive at a comedy show in Montana, and a couple of veterans came up to me after the show and told me that they were struggling with PTSD and they feel similarly to me… We actually connected on a personal level and I ended up trading them how to do stand up comedy and throwing them on stage for the first time which was a profound the healing experience for them.
Humor and storytelling really is a way to discuss. Tough topics in a way that isn’t dangerous and doesn’t feel as scary for people to approach..
I actually started a nonprofit foundation, called the Yay foundation! And what we do is we use humor and storytelling as a device for mental emotional health.
So I love to get real personal and real deep using comedy and storytelling as a device because I’ve seen the incredible power of healing I have been encouraging people to do it.
What are some ways that you thrive in the L.A. stand up comedy scene?
If you want to thrive in the LA Comedy scene, you must have something to offer beyond being funny.
There’s too much competition out there and if you think that you’re being funny is going to carry you to the front of the line you would be sadly mistaken.
Every Comedian really needs to take some time to figure out what unique perspective, or unique thing they may have to offer and think about being of service to the community, rather than throwing out jokes, that they think you’re funny, and hoping to be noticed.
For a starting comedian, I would say producing a show is a great start. It’s a great way to plug you into the community.
What have been your favorite TV roles you've played?
I would have to say my most proud achievement is playing myself on Aidan on the F List! I had so much fun making that!
Do you have some funny and unexpected reactions to jokes you've told?
My favorite joke I like to tell us about my partner passed away it’s like I literally got ghosted. I love saying that joke because I’d love to look around the audience and figure out the people who have the really dark sense of humor, and they make themselves known by laughing very hard.
Often, times I like to point these people out! So fun!
How do you ensure your stand up sets are good?
Because I’ve been doing comedy for 10 years, I have an arsenal of jokes that I know work with 95% certainty!
In the beginning of the set I like to lead strong so the audience get to relax and enjoy the show rather than worry about whether you will be funny or not.
Also, if I’m gonna try new material, I generally test them out at Low stakes shows before bringing them to a professional stage.
What do you like about being a producing?
I love producing because once you learn how to produce, you can actually take the lead in creating and offering content you love
For example, I’m not bound by other people giving me opportunities I can create my own! And because I am providing something useful for the community generally it’s easier for me to make friends
It gives you an incredible amount of freedom, for example, I decided I wanted to visit Vancouver Canada, and because I know how to produce Comedy, I teamed up with a organization in Vancouver, and offered to produce a Comedy show on their behalf! I was able to make new friends, make a difference for the community, pay myself, a fair wage, and experience travel on my own time.
Producing is a wonderful way to do what you love without being at the mercy of some other person giving you an opportunity.
What are some challenges of being a life coach, or do you find this easy?
what I find often is that people have an idea of the path that they want to take and they walk in with a certain set of expectations.
For instants someone who wants to break a cycle, might want to be held accountable… But my belief often is that permanence change can only come from actually understanding in answering for yourself, the importance of breaking such cycle, rather than strong, arming yourself into an action that internally you’re actually half and half about.
So sometimes people don’t always get what they want from me! Because I’m all about helping people figure out for themselves, the reason behind whatever they want to do and using their own energy to get there rather than my prodding at them.
What was it like doing a workshop for the CA Special Olympics team?
It was really rewarding! When I was asked to create a curriculum for the athletes, I was actually quite intimidated because I’ve never worked with Special Olympics athletes before or individuals with handicaps.
Also, this was to be delivered virtually, which is scary because you have to hold the attention of the athletes not being in the room.
But when I taught the course, I begin to get to know all of the athletes on a personal level, and I bonded with him deeply, and I have to say that, even though the class was supposed to be for them, I walked away, feeling like they tell me more about myself.
I was incredibly moved by the welcoming nature and kindness of these athletes It changed my life.
How long did it take to write your book, and what's the main challenges of doing that?
The book took me a year and a half to write! The most challenging thing about writing the book was the fact that I was asked to get real personal about my past history in a way that was incredibly vulnerable.
And like I said before you don’t get the media feedback of stand-up comedy I have no idea whether any of this is going to land or not and I really have to trust my editor so you just kind of put your heart into a text and cross your fingers and hope it lands and lucky for me it did, yahoo.
What would you say is your biggest success?
I would have to say it is measured by the sheer number of friends that I meet as a travel and do my work
Comedy has been a great way for me to connect with people from all walks of life, I have friends in Montana to Vancouver to New Zealand to the East Coast and people that you would never expect to be friends with a gay Asian from Korea!
And also I feel that I do make positive impact on the communities that I interact with! So I feel very lucky that I’m able to create and deliver products and comedy shows that touch people in a way that improve the community.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
I am most excited about my TV show called A Brand New Yay! It is going to air on chime TV in mid July. It’s about me and my best friend Rosie Tran, going around and helping people start a new chapter of their lives through humor! Yay!
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