Embracing Authenticity: Meet Gold Coast Comedian JD Zamora

Embracing Authenticity: Meet Gold Coast Comedian JD Zamora
Image: Image: Supplied

Since stepping into the stand-up scene in 2016, comedian JD Zamora has carved out a niche for himself as a queer, neuro diverse, mixed-race, Māori comedian whose performances are as much about challenging stereotypes as they are about delivering punchlines.

As he prepares for his upcoming workshop at the Creative Arts Safe Space at the Gold Coast Pride Festival he talks to The Star Observer about his life and comedy career.

“If you can’t successfully entertain an audience, your career won’t get anywhere”

Zamora’s journey began on the open mic circuit in London. Reflecting on his early experiences, he shares, “It was daunting, but Londoners generally love Aussies, and the audiences were thankfully very receptive, giving me the first taste of that dopamine buzz I still chase every time I step on stage.”

Zamora’s foray into comedy was driven by a lifetime of performing in various artistic disciplines. “I’ve been in front of audiences my entire life as a singer, musician, actor, and dancer,” he explains.

“Seeing so many incredibly talented people in those fields struggle to make a living out of it, I decided to attempt the one thing most seasoned performers are terrified of. It’s also immune to nepotism—you could be the lovechild of Joan Rivers and Robin Williams, but if you can’t successfully entertain an audience, your career won’t get anywhere.”

For Zamora, comedy icons like Eddie (Suzy) Izzard have been a source of inspiration. “The first time I saw a comedian that made me think, ‘I’ll have what she’s having,’ was when I watched three of Eddie (aka Suzy) Izzard’s specials back to back. Seeing how she could be unapologetically herself and celebrated for it made me realize that there might be an audience who appreciates my own weirdness.”

Other influences include Margaret Cho, Jimmy Carr, Rhys Nicholson, Iliza Schlesinger, Daniel Sloss, Michelle Wolf, James Acaster, and Zoë Coombs Marr—comedians known for their bold insights, frenetic energy, and unique perspectives.

“A fearless celebration of a lifetime of being othered”

Describing his own comedic style, Zamora told The Star Observer he sees it as, “A fearless celebration of a lifetime of being othered as a Māori, mixed-race, queer, adopted, immigrant, multi-neurodivergent, disabled, chronically ill, genetic mutant, ex-religious, country boy. I’ve clearly got no shortage of material to work with!”

Queer Gold Coast Comedian JD Zamora
Image: Supplied

This rich tapestry of identities and experiences not only fuels his material but also resonates deeply with audiences who see themselves reflected in his performances.

Zamora’s neurodivergence plays a significant role in his comedy. “Being both a disability and a superpower, it has an enormous impact,” he says. “Apart from the hilarious situations my autism, ADHD, and other neurodiverse conditions create for me (I have symptoms of eight conditions… and counting), I can hyperfocus on comedy writing for hours, and my hyperlexia and advanced pattern recognition help me with wordplay and rapidly connecting ideas.”

However, he also acknowledges the challenges: “The autistic burnout phases, chronic pain, and sensory issues can be a real impediment to productivity and cause difficulties during performance. But the best part of all is having neurodiverse audience members approach me afterwards to tell me they’ve never seen their experiences represented on stage before. That’s the greatest reward.”

This weekend, Zamora will be sharing his expertise at a comedy workshop during Gold Coast Pride. Attendees can expect to explore the fundamentals of stand-up, including defining their persona and writing different joke types.

“We’ll be looking at some of the fundamentals like defining your persona and how to write different joke types, but also how to apply comedy writing techniques to everyday life,” he explains.

This workshop is designed not only for aspiring comedians but also for neurodivergent individuals with social anxiety. “Having a little bank of authentic pre-prepared responses to navigate situations like meeting new people at work or receiving tragic news has been of great benefit to me, so the workshop could benefit anyone who’s looking to level up their verbal communication skills.”

For those considering a career in comedy, Zamora’s advice is clear: “Have a clear and consistent point of view. Usually, you’re just presenting a heightened version of your natural personality, but you’ll find more success earlier on if audiences understand who you are and what you’re all about.”

He also emphasizes the importance of writing: “Start with quantity and distil it into quality. I write about six hours of material for a one-hour show. Not everyone does it that way, and it may be overkill, but the core premise remains. You need to sieve out the rubble to get to the gold!”

Gold Coast Pride Festival 2024

Zamora’s upcoming workshop is part of the Creative Arts Safe Space initiative at the Gold Coast Pride Festival. This new addition to the festival aims to provide a sensory-friendly environment for LGBTQIA+, queer, and neurodiverse individuals to express themselves artistically. Activities and workshops, including Zamora’s comedy session, will be free and open to all, offering a welcoming space for community engagement.

Join JD Zamora at Gold Coast Pride for a workshop that promises not only to teach the art of comedy but also to celebrate the intersection of humour and identity.

Whether you’re an aspiring comedian or someone looking to enhance your communication skills, this workshop is an opportunity to learn, laugh, and connect.

Gold Coast Pride Fair Day Creative Arts Space

Date: Saturday, June 1, 2024
Location: Macintosh Island Park, Main Beach, QLD
Cost: Free

For more information, visit Gold Coast Rainbow Communities

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