When considering the storied, description-defying career of comedian Tom Rhodes, one question bursts to the surface: What hasn’t this guy done? He’s been a touring club comic in North America for over 20 years; he was the face of Comedy Central in the early 90s, performing sets, taping bits and doing interviews; he starred in his own NBC sitcom (Mr. Rhodes); he’s made a name for himself in the UK, gigging steadily in London and other comedy hotspots; he had his own late-night television talk show in the Netherlands (The Kevin Masters Show), hosted a travel series for Dutch TV, and now tours the world performing shows from Oslo to Sydney to Singapore and points in between. If all that weren’t enough, he has his own popular podcast and pens a travel column for a little obscure website known as the Huffington Post.
Whew. I got tired just writing that.
But that’s not all. Tom Rhodes is currently setting off on a full Asian jaunt and will be swinging through our fair port city of Busan. Korea, in fact, is his first stop on the tour, which is fitting, since Korea was the first foreign country he ever visited.
It was my first time out of the US and I was very young, said Rhodes during a recent chat. What stood out to me most was a beggar in the street, crying, too ashamed to lift his head. I have often thought that that should be the universal way to beg. In North America our beggars have too much confidence.
While some folks learn carpentry, engine mechanics or leather work from their fathers, Rhodes’s dad turned him onto comedy, taking him to his first club show at the impressionable age of 12. He says that comedy was greatly revered in our home, along with the art of joke and being a smartass in general. So it comes as no surprise that such fertile breeding grounds ended up producing a heavyweight like Rhodes. Or was there just something in the water?
When asked about his influences, Rhodes didn’t hesitate: Bill Hicks is my all time comedy hero. Of living comedians I like Doug Stanhope, Steve Hughes, Jimmy Carr, Jim Norton, Jim Jeffries, Daniel Tosh, Dave Chapelle, Bill Burr, Patton Oswalt, Louis CK, Paul Ogata, Greg Proops and Yosemite Sam.
Tom is pumped-up to return come to Korea, and feels more than ready for the drinking culture that awaits him. I can’t tell you how many magnificent sunrises I would have missed had I not been out drinking all night, he waxed, continuing with, I love drinking with Asian people because sometimes their cheeks get flush and rosy. I think that is adorable. I’m not sure if he’ll feel the same way about piles of pork and rice vomit on the sidewalk and passed out ajeosshis in the subway, but this ain’t his first rodeo, so he’ll probably be able to hang.
One thing is for sure: Rhodesâwho regularly performs for expats and has been one himselfânot only knows and appreciates the life of voluntary exile, but revels in it. Degenerate expats! Those are my people, he declared, comparing us to fighter pilots who have seen combat and have a special brand of humor that only they can relate to.
Rhodes went on to put forth the oft-expressed notion that the coolest Americans I have ever met were living outside of the US. The world is in a lot of trouble now and there is a lot to laugh about.
Indeed, Mr. Rhodes. Indeed.
Tom Rhodes is performing for one night only on Friday, October 26 at HQ Bar near Kyungsung. Tickets are 20,000 won and are currently available at the bar or by bank transfer. Check the Facebook event page for details.
Appearing on the bill will be local openers:
SIR DAVID SCRAGGS
and SAM HAZELTON
Hosted by CHRIS THARP