Worst gig ever: Scottish comedian Danny Bhoy has just begun his career and is taking any gig he can get. A man offered him a job in the small town of Kent. He didn’t take down any details other than it paid 70 pounds, which was a lot of money for him at that time.

He drove down dark roads into the depths of England to the address. It was family Christmas dinner, and he had to stand up alone at the end of the table, telling jokes while the family stuffed their faces with a traditional English dinner.

“It was the weirdest thing,” the comedian says now. “I wasn’t even telling jokes, I was just telling stories. I felt like a ghost at a family dinner. They didn’t know anything about me. I was a stranger invading a family dinner. It was horrible.”    

In the end, the master of the house approached him and said, “I don’t think that was worth 70 pounds,” and gave him 45.

Life as changed considerably for Danny Bhoy (born Danni Chaudhry). He has a steady following in Australia and Canada. He has just released a comedy DVD, filmed in Montreal, where he tackles ethnic stereotypes, a kindred spirits of sorts with Russell Peters. And last March he played the Late Show with David Letterman.

subject_to_change_cover.jpg“That was a bit strange,” he says, as casual as if he’d just found a fly on a muffin.

“[Beforehand] I was in a shitty little green room upstairs. It was hard to believe I was about to go on one of the biggest shows in America. It didn’t feel like that.”

In any case, it was one of the highest profile shows the 34-year-old comedian has played, even if, he says, it wasn’t the most memorable. That designation goes to his first gig at the Edinburgh Arts Festival, the biggest festival of its kind in the world. It was his big homecoming as a comedian, after leaving for London to find an audience. It was proof to himself that he had made it as a comedian.

“I really couldn’t do anything else,” he says of being a comedian. “I wasn’t really good at anything else, so it was sort of by default rather than design.”

For lack of a TV show, Bhoy tours constantly. He found quite early on that the rock-and-roll lifestyle made famous by Richard Pryor and Rodney Dangerfield are absent from his long and lonesome stretches on the road, much to his dismay. (“That was part of the reason I got into it,” he says, only half-joking). Instead, the constant introspection he faces while on the road gives him time to write and constantly rework his act.

There’s nothing particularly exciting or dangerous about his comedy. He views the world more as a confused old man, watching the world pass him by through the window, him scratching his head and babbling to someone else in the room.

Even though he's found a global audience, back in England, where he got his start, he’s still a relatively unknown figure. He’ll go from selling out 2000-seat venues in Melbourne to performing for 50 people in London.

“I quite like it, actually,” he says. “It keeps me on my toes. On the one hand, I’m able to play huge crowds that have ... the adulation of being a top-selling comedian, and then to go to England, you sort of remember how it is, how you get a show together. It keeps you grounded.”

Danny Bhoy will be touring across Canada in April and May. Subject to Change is available on DVD from Image Entertainment and E1 Entertainment.

Related links:

The Weakness of Patton Oswalt
Don Rickles Is Mr. Warmth

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