Meet Daniel-Ryan Spaulding, a Gay Croatian Canadian Comedian Coming to Zagreb

Total Croatia News

Stand-up comedy is growing in popularity in Croatia. TCN meets one of its more colourful performers on August 23, 2017, ahead of his next performance in Zagreb later this week, gay Croatian-Canadian comedian, Daniel-Ryan Spaulding.

Daniel-Ryan Spaulding is a Croatian-Canadian comedian, and is one of the top touring acts on the European comedy circuit. He has performed in 45 countries worldwide! His live stand-up comedy, and his successful YouTube channel takes on a wide variety of topics, from expat life in Europe, to challenging homophobia. He is back in the Balkans this week headlining the Panc Festival in Slovenia, and doing an English Comedy Night in Zagreb at Studio Smijeha!

How is it doing comedy in Croatia? What topics do you like to address?

I love performing in Croatia! I came for the first time 6 years ago, when I first moved to Europe. I was able to talk about my Croatian heritage, and funny stories about my Deda, and it was so well received. Over the years, I kept performing in Croatia, learning more and more about the country, and making lots of friends. I have performed in nearly every Yugoslavian country, so I have lots of material about the history, and culture. I have a real love for making fun out of Croatian celebrities, my favourite being Jacques Houdek, he is a comedian’s dream. I also adore Croatian pop music so you will usually hear some Denis i Denis or Neki To Vole Vruce playing during the intermission. I put on a fun show!

You are the comedian who created the hilarious YouTube series How to be gay in Croatian. Tell us about the idea and concept?

I noticed there was a lot of Croatian-Language lessons online, and thought it would be funny to do one for gay people. So I go to different regions of Croatia, learn about the city, their slang and common idioms, and then I put my comedic spin on them! I didn’t intend it to be a political statement, more of a joke on the language. People tend to speak Croatian in a very low, deep, masculine monotone voice. I thought it would be funny to throw my personality into it, and make Croatian gay and sassy!

How is your comedy received in Croatia – a relatively conservative society?

First of all, I would challenge the notion that Croatia is a conservative society, though I understand why people perceive it to be that way. Yes, the Catholic Church has a strong presence in politics, but in my opinion, it’s just for show. In reality, Croatians have premarital sex. Many couples have affairs, and open relationships. Prostitution is nearly decriminalized in Dubrovnik.There are swingers clubs throughout the country, and tons of nude beaches on the coast where people are having sex on beaches, caves, and boats for everyone to see! So I am not going to accept the idea that Croatia is a conservative country – I’m not buying into that hypocrisy!

For the most part, the response to my comedy and my videos has very positive! Of course, you get the anonymous trolls — who leave me messages saying that I will burn in hell – but I tend to laugh at those. I don’t take it personally or seriously. You must have a thick skin to do comedy, and understand that you do it for the people who like it, not for the haters!

You do a lot of stand up comedy in Croatia. Tell us about the audiences who come to your shows.

My audiences are such a fun mix of people! Croatians and internationals. Mostly young people, but sometimes old commies with a great sense of humour. I get lots of couples, gays and straights, and groups of friends. It’s a fun night for everyone, and everyone is welcome!

On the wider issue of LGBT rights and acceptance in Croatia, what is your assessment of the current situation? Is it better or worse than 5 years ago, and if so, in what way?

I definitely think it is getting better! I think the referendum on banning same sex marriage in summer of 2013 was a really horrible time for Croatia. It opened up the discussion, but it also brought out the most terrible homophobic rhetoric. It empowered people to have really ignorant and outdated ideas. But now that time has passed, and there is marriage equality in the USA, Slovenia, Ireland, Germany — I think a lot of people have realized it’s actually not a big deal.

The fact that so many young Croatians are living abroad will also have an impact on attitudes. It’s easy to be homophobic when you’re a sheltered teenager living in small Croatian village — but when you are living in Dublin or Berlin – in the work force, meeting a diverse group of people, it opens your eyes up to the reality of modern life. You will be a very unhappy person, and a very unloved person if you cannot accept differences in people.

In Croatia, I would like to see the strategy of Gay Rights organizations to change. Right now, Pride Parades are still on the level of civil rights marches. Lots of angry speeches on bullhorns, people whistling, and banging drums. I don’t think it’s necessary anymore. There are over 10,000 people marching in Zagreb, I think now we can inject a little more joy and fun. After a while, in most cities, Gay Pride become a celebration. I think it is at that point now in Zagreb. I want a street party, drag queens, comedians, dance music, beer gardens, sparkle and glitter! I think it’s time!

For people who want to see you perform, where can they find you?

This Friday August 25th at Studio Smijeha in Zagreb! (Ticket link here) And you can follow me on Facebook to keep up with my touring schedule!


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