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Warning: contains strong language.
Juan Miles is ready to challenge his audience and make them laugh against their will in his maiden MICF show ‘Villain’. Juan will tackle a range of issues from religion, racism and even fruit salad but not from your standard point of view; “I look for positions that are not popular” says Juan. Nothing is off limits as Juan pulls together a show that would fit into the category of ‘dark comedy’. If there’s a contentious issue to talk about it, Juan wants to discuss it. “I want to touch it… I want to touch it… I want to put my finger in it”!
In Juan’s own words he will range from being an “asshole” to being a “horrible human being”. Despite this frank self-assessment, there is strategy and technique in both building up his on stage persona as well as the context required for each joke. Juan is determined to avoid jokes that are solely for “shock value”. He says it is about “finding the nuance” of each joke, and ensuring the humour hits the right audience. Juan continues that he needs to perform his material “in the tone where the audience knows what I’m saying is fucked up” and where he is “the bad guy”.
When asked about why Juan has chosen the dark side of comedy, he replies: “I’m not going to make people laugh if I make jokes about unicorns...I try really hard not to be the dark comedy guy but it’s just how my brain works… I can’t help it”.
The darkness did not always call to Juan in this way. When he began his comedy career in Argentina five years ago, it was not the “progressive environment” required for unique stand-up comedy. Juan describes the politically divided climate of Argentina, where audiences would “laugh less and clap more” to show their support for politically biased comedians. He describes gigs that were more like “political rallies” which were full of agreeable material that “just burnt my soul”. From this experience, Juan was determined to get “people to laugh when they are not agreeing with me…where they laugh despite your position”. This is the moment Juan turned to the dark side.
Juan has been influenced by and respects the work of other ‘darker’ comedians including Lawrence Mooney and Chris Wainhouse as well as international acts like Anthony Jeselnik and Jimmy Carr. Juan describes Lawrence and Chris as “amazing guys…when they touch on dark subjects they are fucking great”! That said, Juan wants to pave his own way and intends ‘Villain’ to be “one of the best dark comedy shows around”, where the show pushes the limits but the audience will enjoy “laughing in agreement” about the "fucked up things" Juan says.
‘Villain’ is not going to be family friendly and Juan recommends that if you have “high sensitivities to certain topics” then maybe this isn’t the show for you. Juan emphasises that he does not “dehumanise” or “punch down” but this does not mean he won’t hit some tough notes. “If you like seeing a complete disregard for the sacrosanct topics… I’m your guy… touching on them with a measure of good taste… but it’s my measure”.
Juan Miles is performing ‘Villain’ at Speakeasy HQ (522 Flinders Street, Melbourne) from 11 to 15 April and 18 to 22 April 2017. For more information and to book tickets, click here.
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