A 5ft South African Indian man, a white Liverpudlian with an afro that wishes he was LeBron James, and a bizarre Australian wild man walk into a bar, and put on a month of non stop hilarity for cities like Edinburgh, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Perth. This is how the three members of Laugh Mob survive. Yet after 5 years of touring together, how do they still get on? “We don’t, we’ve built strategies to handle each other, for example, I’ve reframed liking Kyle to liking hating Kyle. I try to keep it all positive” says Sam Kissajukian, the seemingly most normal of the three. “Most Normal? Sam, is the weirdest person I’ve ever met. You plan to meet up with him and then he’s suddenly busy living on a farm in Norway learning voodoo” say’s Ruven, the self titled back bone of the group, “without me, there would be no Laugh Mob.” Kyle interrupts “and without me it’d just be The Mob because I bring the Laugh. I’m the King, baby” If Ruven is the backbone, Kyle is the thorn that thinks he’s the gift from god. Born in the city that gave us The Beatles, Liverpool, Kyle has big shoes to fill that he intends to. Sam breaks it down, “Never have I met a more upbeat, overconfident man, for no apparent reason. He spent the last year convincing people to call him ‘The King’ until strangers would walk by and go ‘Hey King, what are you up to today? He’d reply, “Basketball highlights and weed, baby”. He talks more than he sleeps, and he sleeps 15 hours a day. I wish it was 24.”
Ruven’s ethnicity is Indian but he was born in a rough part of South Africa, “Yeah, I saw some terrible things growing up. There was a lot of racial tension. We were lucky, to immigrate to New Zealand, but I never lost seeing the world from different ethnic viewpoints. That’s why I love comedy, because you can laugh at all this pain caused by racism, and that’s healing.” “It’s weird with Kyle because he thinks he’s black. I’m pretty sure we first became friends because he thought I was black, when I told him I was indian, he seemed genuinely disappointed.” Sam grew up in Sydney and spent most of his 20s studying maths or doing adventure sports around the world. Ruven divulges, “He’s smart but he’s actually a maniac and should be dead. He’s been attacked by sharks, he rigged a 60m homemade bungee jump and he used to occasionally solo climb cliffs without a rope. He started doing stand up comedy after he got injured rock climbing, he believed the body was too prone to injury, and he should do something that relies on the mind because you can’t hurt the mind…..turns out you can. Now, he just dives deep into everything, he’s such a dark horse” So, What’s Kyle’s take on Sam? “Sam’s always trying to figure things out. But, why bother learning when you can just be the best to begin with. That’s my motto.” Sam brought his recklessness into comedy with shows like, “Alcohol is good for you”, where every time the audience doesn’t laugh he’d down a shot of vodka. “It was a good idea in theory because the audience either saw the funniest show ever or watched a guy they didn’t like get so shitfaced that he attempted to crowd surf his way out of a room full of mostly empty chairs, naked. To my credit, I never did a bad show that I can remember.”
The boys let their dysfunctional relationships bleed into their “art”. One of their first shows, ‘Comedy Boxing’ was their attempt at therapy. Ruven explained, “We’d argue and fight so often that we crafted a show around it. Kyle annoyed Sam, Sam hated on Kyle, I was always mediating.” So, Laugh Mob created “Comedy Boxing” where Ruven would referee while Sam and Kyle verbally abused each other and then threw a few actual punches. “It worked great! Employee morale was at an all time high. It was a wonderful coping mechanism on long tours. Until the WA fight commission tried to shut us down ”, exclaims Sam. “Out of 100 shows I won more than 70”, boasts Kyle as he plucks his afro. “Kyle, you NBA kitchen mop, you won 7 out of a 100 and that’s because I didn’t show up to 6.” retorts Sam. But Kyle’s mouth can’t be silenced “Maths, maths, don’t bring your nerd talk into this, Sammy boy. We all know who the real hero is, the people’s champion, your’s truly, The King, baby!” Contested win loss records aside, the show has been a sell out success 3 years running.
How these lads have stayed together is uncanny because they couldn’t be more different, Ruven explains, “Sam is constantly trying to find out who he is by doing progressively weirder introspective experiments that no one can make sense of. Sometimes he’s impossible to work with, unavailable or just preoccupied with figuring out how to make shadow puppets dance. Kyle is a caricature of himself, he doesn’t want to know who he is because he’s scared that if he stops making fun of everything he might just feel something real”, Sam jumps in, “and Ruven is in constant fear that show business will fail him and he’ll have to work full time at his dad’s chicken farm.” Ruven does often help out at his father’s chicken farm. “Look, my dad’s dream is the chicken farm and it’s my dream to be on TV. Dad says, If I work on the farm, he’ll get me on the show, ‘Farmer wants a wife.’” When asked if they would bring anyone else on tour, Sam is adamant, “our next three hires should be a mediator, a therapist and an intervention specialist. But, then we’d start getting on and the whole tour would collapse.” Kyle seems confused, “Why do we need an invention specialist? To write new jokes? Why, when you got the King, baby!?.” Ruven consoles Kyle, “No, it’s an intervention specialist and it’s not to help a joke, it’s for you.” “So, it’s to help a joke”, mumbles Sam as he walks out of the room. Well, hopefully these boys can strike that fine line between, love and hate, friendship and bickering, cooperation and chaos, so they can keep this funny dream alive because they’re about to land at Perth Fringe World and do shows together at Universal Bar in Northbridge, Jan 18th – Feb 17th.