Greetings from the beautiful Oasis of the Seas! My name is Simeon Kirkiles and I’ve been the host of Comedy LIVE on board since Oasis was launched back in 2009. It still seems like yesterday when we were rolling out the Comedy Club concept on Royal Caribbean International’s Mariner of the Seas several months before Oasis was launched.
For many years Royal Caribbean International has always had a Headliner Comedian that performed the “Welcome Aboard Show” and a late night show in the Main Theater. With Oasis, the decision was made to create an intimate comedy club that would feature a comedy host as well as two headliner comedians. The venue itself features an art deco feel with the inspiration of a New York Subway Terminal. (Let me tell you, it’s the nicest and cleanest a New York Subway terminal could ever look). It seats about 130 guests which is fantastic because you can really have a lot of fun with the audience. I remember one show we had a family in the front row with one empty seat next to them and I said “Did someone not make it or are they parking the car?” Well, they had a 19 year old son, Tyler, was too tired to make it to the nine o’clock show. So we called his cabin from the stage and asked him why he was too tired to make it! He said he had been playing basketball all day. That excuse was not good enough for us, so after we hung up, I went backstage and secretly called him again. He agreed to show up to the comedy show in his pajamas with a pillow and blanket. When he walked through the door the family literally fell over laughing and the rest of the audience soon followed. With two and three shows performed every night of the cruise, it’s always guaranteed that our guests will have some late night laughs. A lot of which are completely unexpected!
Being host of the comedy show consists of more than just warming up the crowd. In fact, in the comedy world, the opening spot is considered the hardest in the show. It’s definitely taken a few years for me to figure out the comedy formula that works best in a cruise ship environment. We have guests from all over the world with different backgrounds and reference points so you have to start with common ground. I usually open the comedy shows by saying “Hello my name is Simeon, and I work in the ship’s fitness center as a personal trainer.” Being that I weigh 300 pounds this always gets a laugh. I then follow it up by saying “Be sure to try the zip line onboard! I love it because for me it’s more of a bungee jump! Which is great since it saves me the walk to Johnny Rockets!” I perform the opening 15 to 20 minutes of every Comedy Live Show. It is then followed by two headliners that do about 25 minutes each. What a lot of guests may not realize is how each show is unique. For example, would you believe certain nights of the week are harder to get laughs than others? It’s true. For some reason when people are dressed up on formal nights, they don’t laugh as loud or interact nearly as much on casual nights. One trick I’ve learned over the years is that on formal nights it is best to play the pre-show music about 25 percent louder than on other nights. This forces people to talk louder and in doing so makes them more open and comfortable laughing out loud during the show. It sounds crazy, right?
Comedy is a very subjective art form. The great thing about being onboard Oasis is that we have what I like to call a “Neapolitan show.” With three comics you get your chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry comedy. (Leave it to me to equate it to food.) In addition to stand-up comedy shows we also offer a comedy improv show called “Throw Me a Line” featuring three comedic actors from Hairspray along with me. We take the audiences suggestions for scenes and we even bring the guests into the show to play with us. We also take it a step further and offer comedy improv classes in Comedy LIVE if our guests would like to hone their inner comedic performer. If you are REALLY lucky I’ll teach you my famous “Snow Man Dance.” I like to think people cruise on Oasis just so see that!
These past three years on Oasis of the Seas have really been a joy for me and I look forward to many more. I think I have the most amazing job in the world! I get to make people laugh. To me there is nothing better than putting a smile on someone’s face.