ENDA WHITNEY IN SEOUL
Korean Man: Oh where you from?
Disappointed Korean Man: Oh? Not America?
Me: No Ireland, in Europe?
Disappointed Korean Man: Oh ok. Bye. Your friend? American?
I guess the first thing I noticed about being an Irish man in Seoul is that we are not the novelty to the natives that we have found ourselves to be in most of the rest of the world. To be honest, I like it. While most strangers here have such good intentions and just want to hear you try stumble through a few words in their native tongue. I love, however, having many American friends and co workers. When I drop the heart breaking “I’m Irish” to a Korean in order to brush off the awkward hug or stroke of the arm or face by an older gentleman on to the American and still be thankful I am indeed an Irish man in South Korea.
This is also an indication of just how friendly and safe Seoul can be, as well as a wonderful source of entertainment for me. Like most of the westerners out here I am indeed an English teacher and have enjoyed a wonderful professional and social experience here in Seoul thus far. Apart from Hongdae Park , Itaewon,the wonderful film festivals, the museums, temples, parks, sports stadiums , Korean Islands and a trip to an abandoned Insane Asylum that I have been lucky enough to experience in my first seven months, I am elated to share the other passion in my life that I have continued to pursue in Seoul city while working as an English Teacher.
The passion is Stand Up Comedy and yes, there is a great number of comedy nights for English speaking audiences all over the city. I’ll give you some names and locations as you read on.
How or why did I find this scene you might ask? Well back in 2009 in a little University Town called Maynooth, I lost a bet that would bring me to instances in my life that I would have never believed possible, now I can certainly add being on stage in Seoul as one of those instances. The bet was lost and I was committed to an open mic spot at the Ha Penny Comedy club in Dublin. The word spread among my friends that after jumping out of a plane that day( a skydive for charity which brought me to a child centered community project in Lima, Peru), Whitney would be doing a 7 minute debut comedy set in the city. Whether he was funny or not, his possible humiliation would be hilarity enough for it to be worth the five Euro cover charge. The nerves over powered the excitement as it was almost time to get up on stage as a comedian for the first time. The room full of strangers would have induced quite enough panic, but the kicker was that people I would have to see on a regular or even daily basis were enough to make me sick to the point that I could not speak. “Ladies and Gentleman please welcome on to the stage…. Enda Whitney.”
This was the flashback I had as my name was uttered over the microphone at Stand Up Seoul at the Rocky Mountain Tavern in Itaewon. It didn’t matter that over the four years between the two that I had toured every inch of Ireland, pl