He performed in Saudi Arabia for the first time last November and had the audience in awe and laughing to tears. “My body is my instrument in many ways,” Ducharme told Arab News. “I take things that I’ve experienced and I amplify or exaggerate it with my sound effects so you get the full picture, the whole story.”
“I tried to be just a traditional comedian but that didn't work for me. I’m more animated, so I always go back to doing my sound effects with some physical humor. My comedic friends told me: ‘Don’t try to do the regular stuff; do what you’re good at.’ So, that’s where I’m at now,” he added.
Ducharme has been in the stand-up comedy business for 17 years. “I’m the writer, producer, director in a one person show. These things take time to develop. I’m not the kind of comic who will write a joke and do it up on stage and it’s a big hit the next night. Mine have to take shape because I’m presenting a three-dimensional vignette, so again enhanced by sound effects,” he explained.
At the same time, he has built an interesting and diverse career as a writer, producer and director. His credits include starring in several TV commercials (Heineken Beer, Papa Gino’s, Ford Motor Co. and GTE), films (the Miramax film “Next Stop Wonderland” and the CBS film, “Original Sin”) and TV appearances (“Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen,” NBC’s “Today Show” and “Inside Edition”). He has also been features on voiceovers for radio and television and hosted the first season of “Mission Organization” on HGTV.
Originally from Rhode Island, Ducharme attended RI College where he majored in theater. He then lived in New York for 13 years. Nine months ago, he moved to LA where he currently resides.
Ducharme, who cites Bill Cosby and Jerry Seinfeld as comedic influences, started doing stand-up comedy in college. “I’ve always had a thing for mimicking anyway, so I incorporated it into my act. Whether people have a child or nephew, everybody can relate to that,” he said.
“I’ve done a little bit of acting throughout my career, but always come back to stand-up comedy. There’s something about that live performance that immediate reaction, and interacting… when you’re shooting a film, it takes a long process, you have to wait for the finished product,” he added.
In New York, his home club is the comic strip live, but he performs in most of the clubs in the city. “I perform in New York three to five times a night up to seven days a week. That’s the life of a normal comic.”
Ducharme has been performing internationally for the past 10 years. He travels by plane, car and cruise ships. “I’ve been embarking on cruise ships for the past year and a half pretty steadily so I’ve been visiting many different parts of the world,” he said.
Some of the countries and places he’s been to include: Canada, Alaska, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Italy, the UK (Scotland), the Caribbean, mainland China (Beijing), Hong Kong, Tunisia, Africa, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Qatar, Tunisia and Afghanistan.
In this exclusive interview, Ducharme speaks to us about how he got into stand-up comedy, his sound effects and his fascination with the Middle East. His witty and goofy sense of humor left us craving for more.
In college, I was always the class clown, making jokes and goofing around, so my friend told me to try out at talent night. So I did and it went very well and I thought, oh my God, this is going to be great! I was invited to come in the following week. I went up and did the same exact thing, but I got booed off stage. I bombed after having my ego inflated. It was horrible, but I picked up by britches and I came back week after week until I eventually formed myself into a comedian and was able to procure work.
When I was a young man, I used to write these little scripts with my friends and we’d act out these plays and record them on tape recorders. I had these sound effects tapes/ cassette tapes of sound effects, so I used to play the sound effects with our act. It was way too complicated and came out horrible. Then, I started doing the sound effects with my own voice. So we’d have people say, “Let’s go into the haunted house,” and I’d make the sound of a door creaking open.
All the sound effects you hear now, I’ve been doing them ever since I was 10 years old in these mini stories. Even though we spent all this money on the sound effect tapes, we made a miniseries with my sound effects. It was just so much easier because we could actually do the whole thing without too many mistakes, so I brought that to my stage performance.
Yes. It was only a brief period where I veered off from there to become a regular monologist, stand-up comedian, but it was not my strength. My friends told me go back to doing what I was doing, and that was the right decision.
Yes it’s changed. It’s more fine-tuned now than ever and I’m more comfortable on stage now than ever. You know, in the beginning, it’s an experiment — you’re still figuring out which direction to take. I tried going in a different direction but it didn’t work, so I came back. It evolved to the point where I feel comfortable performing for any crowd. That’s one thing that was told to me — that my act needs no translation — and I actually have that on my bio.
I am interested in performing in the Middle East because I find it fascinating. When I first performed in Beirut in 2009 with Nemr Abou Nassar, I knew I wanted to explore other countries in this part of the world. People love and need to laugh no matter where they live. I have met some wonderful people in the Middle East and I want to let others know how great they are.
Afghanistan was a bit different from all the others as you might imagine. I was able to perform for Embassy personal from various countries as well as Afghan students. Performing and interacting with the students was one of the highlights of my trip to Kabul. Things are still a bit unstable there, but I hope they will improve soon. The Afghan people truly deserve it. The students have hope in their eyes, which was a joy to see.
Stand-up comedy. A live performance setting in a theater setting, cannot top the energy of the others. In a television show, you have cameras wheeling around, you have to wait for commercials and then when cameras are rolling again, they tell everyone to pretend they’re having a good time and clap. In a live performance, it’s organic and you feed off of that energy. It’s a narcotic.
I’m inspired by events in my life. You get a lot of material from meeting people and traveling — of course that’s gold for material. So, I incorporate my experiences into my act.
There are a lot of comedians that people don’t know like Don Gaven who is from Boston. He’s been making me laugh since before I started doing comedy, and he’s just as funny as ever. Then I have some favorites, like my friends Tom Cotter, Bernadette Pauley and Pete Correale.
I’m into all kinds of humor. The more super silly you are and the more ridiculous you are, the harder I’m going to laugh. I’m definitely a fan of that. There are no rules.
It hasn’t happened yet, but I will say this: 16 years of being able to make a living of making people laugh and traveling and seeing the world is success.
Stay out of the business and leave it to the big boys! (laughs). Don’t be afraid to fall flat on your face. If you’re going to be successful in this, if you’re serious about it, you have to fail to succeed. Just keep it up; don’t’ stop.
I will be appearing on a new show called “Comedy.TV,” which was filmed late last year and should be airing in the coming weeks. I also have a new DVD coming out in spring 2012.