Behold, Kerry Unger. At first glance he seems as normal as an expat in Korea can be. He lives in South Jeolla Province with his wife, where he spends his days teaching English, playing cards, strumming guitar, and gulping down cold cans of Cass.
However, don’t be fooled by his everyman image. Like Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent, Kerry Unger has a deep, burning secret. No, he doesn’t leap around in tights and strike fear in the hearts of evildoers. He instead struts around on stage, talks into microphones and shoots mirth into the guts of audiences. He may currently earn his keep explaining prepositional phrases to half-dead middle school students, but Kerry Unger is, in truth, a real, living and breathing, professional comedian. And, actually, he sometimes wears tights, but strictly for personal enjoyment.
Hailing from Edmonton, Alberta, Kerry has spent most of the last 15 years crisscrossing the Great White North, eliciting chuckles for shekels. He has appeared at many comedy festivals, including North America’s largest and most exclusive, Montreal’s Just for Laughs, as part of the prestigious New Faces of Comedy showcase. He was the head writer and cast member on the Comedy Network’s Gutterball Alley, and was showcased in an hour-long Comedy Now! special on CTV. He has also been a regular on CBC Radio and XM Satellite Radio’s comedy channel.
In short, Unger is the real deal, but even the big shots need some down time. He’s currently taking a break from the glamorous life of a road comic to expand his horizons by savoring the sights, sounds, and flavors of the mysterious, many-splendored Eastâ¦ But one can only visit so many temples and eat so much kimchi before the urge to tell dick jokes in front of drunk people takes over once again.
I recently talked with Kerry about comedy and Korea.
Why did you get into comedy?
I got into comedy 25 percent because I have always loved comedy, and 75 percent because I hate working and comedy seemed like a good out. It was. I just started hitting open mics in Vancouver, Canada and voila! Five years later, I was making a shitty living at it.
Who are your influences?
Early influences: David Letterman, SCTV.
Nowadays: Dave Chapelle, Doug Stanhope, Dave Atell, Brian Regan. And if anyone hasn’t listened to Bill Burr, try him out. His stand-up and his free podcast are as funny as it gets. Oh, and did I mention Martin Lawrence? No, I did not.
Describe your best gig.
Last summer, three of my best friends and I did a week long golf/comedy tour and it was the most fun I’ve ever had in stand-up. We did a lot of fun things that rhyme with “rugs” and are very illegal. Just For Laughs was also a very great gig, and a little bit illegal.
How about your worst gig?
I almost got murdered by a huge townie in Fairview, Alberta, Canada. I nearly died in a blizzard on my way to Cornwall, Ontario. But I would have to say the worst gig I ever did was every single corporate Christmas party that booked me as the entertainment. It’s a 300-way tie for first place.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Korea?
Drinking outside of the Mini-Stop.
I met you in 2009, when we did a few shows together around Korea. Why did you come back?
I was asking myself the very same thing this afternoon. Teaching middle school is a lot like bombing as a comedian. I guess I have a passion for being ignored/heckled by small groups of people.
Why do you live out in the sticks in South Jeolla Province?
They have a great Mini-Stop here.
How many bottles of soju can you drink?
I’m more of a “How many Hites can you shotgun?” kind of guy. Two!
What’s the best/worst thing about being Canadian?
Best thing about being Canadian: Love the hockey, love the rugs.
Worst thing about being a Canadian: Can’t even loiter outside of convenience stores, let alone drink. Brutal.
Did you hear the big news? Nickleback’s Chad Kroeger and Avril Lavigne are getting married.
I didn’t know about this. I have a new worst thing about being Canadian.
Kerry Unger performs at Beached Bar in Gwangalli on Friday, August 31, with special guests. Tickets are 5,000 won at the door.