Photo by Kristopher Miller, Evening Telegraph, Dundee
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Love it or hate it, the Eurovision Song Contest allows the winning country an opportunity to host the following year’s contest and showcase its homeland. This year was Portugal’s turn in the spotlight, following its winning entry in 2017.
Originally from Portugal, Luis Alcada ACSI, a data analyst at Alliance Trust Savings in Dundee and a stand-up comedian in his spare time, has enjoyed the opportunity to answer questions about the country that are not football related.
“In Portugal, most local art is seen as very ‘uncool’, so hopefully the Eurovision Song Contest will change that. I’d love to appear in a Eurovision Comedy Contest if that’s ever created!”
Luis graduated from Dundee University in 2010, having studied accountancy and finance. He gained an internship as a fund accountant at BNP Paribas immediately after graduation, so decided to stay in Scotland, eventually settling at Alliance Trust Savings.
He signed up for a stand-up course during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival a couple of years ago and has been hooked ever since. “It’s the perfect hobby if you like adrenaline but are in terrible physical shape, like me. A lot of my work is stripping down processes to essentials, so I’ve carried that approach into my creative outlet.”
His first experience of performing was dire: “As part of my stand-up course I did a five-minute set at a club in Edinburgh. I did mostly observational humour about UK culture. It was a disaster, but I got enough laughs to encourage me to try again.”
His second show was at an open mic night. “It was a dingy, gothic pub. I completely ‘died on stage’. The next morning I was at a comedy showcase where they asked if there were any comedians in the audience. I lifted my hand and found myself performing my third set. It went down brilliantly.”
"It makes censoring yourself before you speak much harder"
Coping with negative feedback is all part of the deal. “If you can’t work it out, you can always be thankful that at least you suffered your public humiliation right next to a fully stocked bar.”
Luis writes down any funny ideas as they occur. “I like to exaggerate my experiences [of Portugal] and portray a dark, crime-infested and underdeveloped country. I also like bigger issues like religion and philosophy, but I’m still working my way up to them.”
Luis loves the Icebreaker Comedy club in Dundee: “I’m there often so a lot of them already know me, which is half the battle.”
He also enjoys competing to hone his skill. “The Monkey Barrel Club in Edinburgh does weekly competitions. They attract professional acts that have been doing it for over ten years. I still haven’t managed to win but I’m hopeful for next time!”
His hobby has made him more comfortable about having difficult or awkward conversations in his day job: “Once you train yourself to address these things head on, they become easier. The downside is that it makes censoring yourself before you speak much harder.”
Luis once opened for Andrew O’Neill when he toured Scotland. “He was incredibly supportive and he gave me a lot of tips about the craft.” Luis also performed with Phill Jupitus at The Stand. “He was nice, but like a lot of comedians he came across as shy and quiet in person.”
Luis says there are two attributes a person needs to become successful in stand-up comedy: “First, self-awareness. You can be as shy, awkward or offensive as you want, provided the audience realises you’re aware of it and that you’re comfortable and confident about it. But it’s amazing how quickly an audience is lost if they’re distracted by anything unusual – an accent, physical features or even room temperature – and the speaker doesn’t address it.
“Second, persistence. I’m constantly shocked by how many comedians are absolutely brilliant on stage but are unknown outside the stand-up community.
This article was first published in the Q2 2018 print edition of The Review. The print edition is available to all members who opt in to receive it, except student members. All eligible members who would like to receive future editions in the post should log in to MyCISI, click on My Account/Communications and set their preference to 'Yes'