Friday, October 19

Q&A: Stand-up comedian alumnus discusses acting, upcoming performance

Max Amini, a Persian-American comedian and UCLA alumnus, will perform special Valentine's Day-themed comedy segments under the theme of "Night of Love" at Royce Hall Friday. (Creative Commons via Wikipedia)

Max Amini, a Persian-American comedian and UCLA alumnus, will perform special Valentine's Day-themed comedy segments under the theme of "Night of Love" at Royce Hall Friday. (Creative Commons via Wikipedia)

A crowd of about 1,300 people listened to Max Amini’s stand-up comedy routine at a concert hall in Toronto.

“Why is your husband not here with you? It’s Valentine’s Day,” he asked a woman in the front row sitting next to her friend.

“He is at home,” the woman said and burst out in laughter.

“Call him. I want to talk to him. Call him,”Amini said.

The woman dialed the number and handed the phone to him. For the next five minutes, Amini engaged in a heated conversation with a stranger who seemed to be the woman’s husband, and the audience couldn’t stop laughing.

Including his audience spontaneously in his performance is an essential part of his shows, Amini said. The comedian and actor, who is a UCLA alumnus, will perform at Royce Hall on Saturday. Amini will perform new material revolving around Valentine’s Day.

At UCLA, he produced his own show “Maximum Comedy Crush” in the dorms and Kerckhoff Hall, inviting comedians like Bobby Lee to be part of it.

Now, he performs regularly on the stage of Hollywood’s “Laugh Factory,” tours through the states and performs in countries like Canada, Australia and Germany. The material of his shows is based on his observations on family affairs, relationships and cultural differences.

The Daily Bruin’s Margarita Dreiling spoke to Amini about how UCLA sparked his interest in comedy, his inspiration for his performances and what to expect from his new acting role on Netflix.

Daily Bruin: How did you get into comedy? Did UCLA play a role?

Max Amini: Initially, I wanted to become an actor. I applied to UCLA because it was ranked as the university with the best theater program in the country at that time. … I took a stand-up comedy class over the summer and really fell in love with it. … That’s when it all started.

DB: Did UCLA prepare you well for your career as a comedian and actor?

MA: I had the great honor to work with professors like Dee Caruso and Gary Gardner. They strongly influenced me and my career and encouraged me as an artist. I used to take the classes with the professors that inspired me the most over and over again. I took Delia Salvi’s class on the art of directing actors six times. I can frankly say that the majority of the experience that I use on set is everything I have learned in Ms. Salvi’s class.

DB: Do you have any advice you could give other Bruins who are trying to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?

MA: Take your relationships in college more seriously. The friends you make in college are going to be professionals that you will be working with in the future. The respect and love that you give them now will mean a lot to you in the future.

DB: Your shows are based on family affairs and social and cultural issues. Where do you get your inspiration from?

MA: I am an observational comedian. When I get to a new place, I take the city in, watch how people act and react, pay attention to their language and culture and I start asking questions. I take that inspiration and use it for my shows. On stage, I improvise a lot and talk about the things that I have noticed in that particular city or country. It is hilarious to my audience to see how I perceive their culture.

DB: You are playing a leading role in the film “Beyond Paradise.” Are you aiming to go more into acting in the future?

MA: I’ve always been a comedian and an actor, so I will continue doing both, but many stand-up comedians cannot cross over to acting.

DB: Why is that?

MA: These are two different art forms. An actor needs to know how to embody a character so that people can relate to him or her emotionally. Stand-up comedians are writers who perform. Since I have started off in acting, for me, the acting comes naturally. … I’m on this new show called “Real Rob” on Netflix. You will not even recognize that it’s me playing that character. That’s how specific of a character it is.

DB: What is special about your upcoming show on Saturday at Royce Hall?

MA: It’s my Valentine’s weekend show on the “Night of Love.” … I have brand new material that LA has never seen before. At least half an hour of my material will be on Valentine’s Day. I will joke about couples, gift-giving, flowers and women’s expectations.

Compiled by Margarita Dreiling, A&E contributor.

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