Tape Face aka Sam Wills is on his first-ever multi-city India. For the unversed Tape Face is an award-winning modern-day silent comic hailing from New Zealand. In 2016, he made his Las Vegas debut, later he went on America’s Got Talent where he gained immense popularity for his unusual approach to comedy, for which he is seen as the modern age Charlie Chaplin and Mr. Bean played by Rowan Atkinson. The Free Press Journal caught up with the comedian for an exclusive chat where he bared his heart out about his Indian tour, America's Got Talent journey, his plans for writing a show where he can talk, being compared with iconic comics, and more.
Why did you choose India for your tour? And how has been the journey so far?
I chose India because I really wanted to travel the world. I think one of the joys of having a silent show is that its truly international so it suits any audience in any country and when the chance to come to India came up I took that opportunity and was very exited about it.
From your very first performance in AGT you have got immense love, How would you describe your journey so far?
AGT was a great experience for me and it was a real good launching platform. I've had great time and my career did really boost the moment I went on that TV show but again I have been doing the character since 2005 and its been a nice gentle progression up until then and then it kind of exploded.
One of the most critical judges of all time Simon Cowell has put you in the same league as comedic geniuses Mr. Bean and Charlie Chaplin. Do you agree with this stance? Is there a pressure factor present?
I think there is definitely a pressure when somebody says you are like Mr. Bean or Charlie Chaplin. For me, I am not to the level of those two masters. I like what I do and I think I am okay in what I do but I am always learning.
What inspired you to choose comedy in the first place?
I chose comedy because I don't have any other skills, (chuckles). So, I was at a circus school and then I ended up becoming a street performer and from there I moved up to standup comedy and improvised comedy and then it just became one of those natural progressions that I decided to try and see if I could do the silent comedy.
Over the years, how do you think that comedy has evolved? Do you take any measures to stay relevant?
I think with my show I stay relevant by using nostalgia weirdly enough by using songs from 80's and 90's where people can have those feelings. I remember that song, and also with comedy there is a certain element of cancel culture that goes on with today's comedians where they have to be very careful about what they say, whereas for me I am safe because I don't say anything at all.
Some stars keep souvenirs from their tours. Over the years you have been on several tours is that something you do as well?
Yeah, I absolutely plan on taking souvenirs from my visit here in India. It's been an absolute blast. I have really enjoyed it and now I have a collection of various things from all around the world back in my house in Las Vegas.
You have a format where you do not speak in any of your shows, is that ever going to change?
Maybe one day I'll write a different show where I do talk but at the moment I really enjoy writing material for the Tape Face character. So, currently I am writing a new show for Tape Face. I still get a kick after doing my performance. So, I think I'll keep doing it for as long as I can.
Have you ever thought about reinventing yourself completely?
Language cannot be a barrier in your case but culture can be. Do you take any precautions in order to not offend the audience? And if yes what are they?
I don't really put precautions in place. I sort of do a show and feel it out for the first time around. It's been really interesting here in India watching the audiences laugh in slightly different places and the pacing of the show can change quite a lot. But for me, I consider when I write my material I write it from a very safe point of view because I want to be able to entertain audiences of every age group.
Comedy often helps people with their mental health. As a comedian when you have dedicated a good portion of your life in making audiences laugh, How do you take care of your mental health?
I take care of my mental health by actually doing shows. I find them very therapeutic. When I have a chance to go on stage, it's a getaway from reality. And the one thing that I try to do for audience is to make them realise how is it to be a kid again and just play, be silly and have fun.
How do you see digital platforms and has it helped you reach out to a wider audience?
I have really embraced social media. I really enjoy being able to connect with my audience through social media. I interact quite a lot on my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube events. I find that it's a really good thing. Yeah, I enjoy social media a lot.
Lastly, your tips to upcoming comedians...
I come from a street performing background, which is like you just go out there and act. Similarly, if you want to try stand up comedy, you just find a stage, get on that and try it and just keep doing it over and over until you finally find what suits you and then just be yourself on stage.
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