Fernando Clark will be hosting this year’s Laugh Till Belly Burst Comedy Show which is set for Saturday, June 10, at Princess Port de Plaisance. Clark tells us why he went on board as host again this year, about his life as a comedian and a bit about what fans can expect from him.
Who is Fernando Clark?
That’s a very interesting question. I am the fourth of five children. I have one brother living in St. Maarten and the rest are in the USA (with Donald Trump). As for who I am, I am the person that you hear on the radio in commercials and on talk shows. I am the face you saw as a presenter of the nightly AVS News. I am the person you see as the Master of Ceremonies for various events on the island. I am the guy who makes you laugh. I am no stranger to the St. Maarten community.
How would you describe yourself?
Easy going, like a lot of fun and laughter; but when it comes to my work, that is when I put on my serious hat. There are two sides to me, the fun and laughter side and the serious side. Sometimes I mix the serious and the fun; but when I have to, I keep them separated.
All my schooling was done in Aruba where I was born and I actually graduated with the subjects biology, chemistry and mathematics. But after school, I went into banking and finance. I worked in banking for 36 years and followed many banking and financial courses, so I always considered myself to be a banker. I also did some courses in communication and marketing. I combined all of them and created a product called Fernando Clark.
When did you discover your love for comedy?
Early in secondary school – I was asked to be the MC for school activities. But even before that, I enjoyed making people laugh. I loved to entertain. Then when I came to St. Maarten, I continued the trend. But it was during my school days that I actually discovered that I had what it takes to make people laugh. In those days, comedy was not as big as it is now, so people referred to a comedian as a payaso, which is Spanish for clown. So to aspire to be a comedian back then was not a big thing. Parents didn’t feel proud to introduce their child as “Meet my son, the clown.”
How did you get into the industry professionally?
There were people who kept telling me that I can do it; and they organised the first stand-up comedy show in St. Maarten. Entrance was free. The hall was packed and thereafter we did more shows. But it was my Fernando Clark RAW CD that got me to the Apollo Theatre in New York, and after that, it was smooth sailing. That was back in 1995. After that, I received invitations to perform in other countries. And that is when I started using my talent professionally.
What do you love about comedy?
Laughter is like a medication. It releases stress. I feel like a doctor when I make people laugh. Sometimes I encounter angry people and after making them laugh, they are a different person. If I can make people happy, release their stress and tension, then I feel that I have in some way contributed to somebody’s wellbeing. Could you imagine how life would be if there was no laughter? No comedy? I also love to hear a good joke. I love to laugh too, so I enjoy being entertained.
Why did you decide to host the LTBB comedy show?
For the opportunity to work with comedians from different countries. Imagine, we have a comedian from Africa. It will be fun working with him. I am sure he will bring a completely different style of comedy to St. Maarten. Each one has different styles and ways of bringing comedy across. So, it will be a mixture of good comedy. I definitely want to be a part of that.
What would you say to encourage others to come out to watch the show?
Miss LTBB? Are you crazy or insane? Be there. Come and release your stress, and actually laugh till your belly burst… Right now, comedy is one of the highest paying professions in the world. In Jamaica for instance, comedy shows outdo dance hall and hip hop parties. Don’t miss LTBB. Release the stress!
What do you think should be done to further promote local comedians in St. Maarten?
Many people think it is easy. Once they start and realise the work involved and the commitment it needs, they drop out. But St. Maarten has many great talented potential comedians. They need to be motivated and eventually compensated for their talent. But it starts with the individual person. We should not rely on others to pave the road for us, we have to make that first step.
What inspires you when it comes to creating your funny material?
Society. I look around, see funny things and write it in such a way to make people laugh and wonder: “How he came up with that?” In my last one-man stand-up comedy, I took the challenge to do a part about funerals. That was a challenge, but it was successful. Can you imagine people laughing about funerals? Those are the kinds of challenges that inspire me.
What, if anything, is off limits when it comes to comedy for you? And what issues would you say generally make the best jokes?
Unlike many other comedians, I don’t curse. Many of them use sexual jokes, I try as much as I can to keep away from that. But there is nothing that I consider off limits. Family matters, politics and relationships make good topics.
What’s next for Fernando Clark the comedian?
On September 30, I will do a long awaited one-man stand-up comedy. You will hear more about that after LTBB.
If you could invite three persons (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you serve them?
If I have to invite them one at a time, it would be the late Dr. Claude Wathey, Vance James Jr. and Eldridge Van Putten, separately. That way, I know there would be no fighting. I would serve them KFC. If I had to invite three people together, I would invite The Mighty Sparrow, Paul Keens Douglas and King T-Mo. I know we would have a great conversation and lots of fun. I wouldn’t serve anything. T-Mo is a great chef, he would knock up something for them to eat.