If there was one person who made quarantine look fun over the last year it was comedian Kev Orkian.
During lockdown he was compelled to take over the legendary comedy brand, Jongleurs, and help children to laugh and feel more positive. As well as now being the CEO of Jongleurs, he’s an actor, an entertainer, a comedy pianist, and has created the wonderful documentary Armenia Uncovered.
His antics on social media kept me going throughout lockdown. He’s one of those people who can make you laugh before he says a word. Lucky for me, I got to sit down with him not too long ago and pick his amazing brain.
As you can imagine, I started off by asking him what his secret to success was:
Kev: “Positive thinking is the way forward. When I walk on stage and people are already laughing it’s because I’m thinking ‘you’re going to laugh at me’. I might pull a facial expression, but honestly I’m already thinking they’re going to laugh. It’s a power. It’s not unique to me, but I’ve practised it more than most.
It’s like the Great Wall of China. You can’t build a wall like that in one day, but start with one brick and build on it; that’s what positivity is. You can see my positivity, and that’s what I want. You can see the Great Wall of China from outer space, and I want people to see my positivity from outer space too.”
Kev has built an amazing brand mastering so many different elements within the entertainment industry, which in itself is an art. At Write Business Results we live and breathe personal branding so I wanted to hear more about how Kev has found success in this area:
Kev: “People don’t tend to look too far in advance. I do. It’s a blessing. I can tell you right now where I’m going to be next year with my businesses and my own career. I can tell you where I’ll be in five and in ten years. I’ve already put that focus in my mind. So when I have a negative thought, and it’s fine for that to be there, I just say hello and bye to it; ultimately it’s about moving forward in life towards your goals.
By 2022 I want to have at least 100 (if not more) comedy clubs and venues in the UK. The British Pantomime Academy is also about reaching children [kids masterclass workshops] and putting on an innovative, original, interactive pantomime. I want to provide quality entertainment and share these amazing human beings [actors, comedians] who are incredible at what they do but don’t seem to get on TV that much. I also provide a platform for them to perform on cruises and at corporate or private events so that they can earn good money again, and provide for their families.
I want to nurture the untapped talent in this world, and that includes nurturing it through children and through professionals.”
The level of clarity that Kev has around his mission and his future is amazing. I wanted to know about his strategy. Does he write it out like a vision or a story?
Kev: “I start with written goals which include that by 2022 I will have accumulated ‘the sum of’, and I include the revenue I want to generate for each of the businesses, for The British Pantomime Academy, Jongleurs, and for my own performances. The last four words I write down are ‘I am the greatest’. You have to really believe it and you have to nurture yourself because ultimately no-one else is going to do it for you. By believing in yourself everyone else begins to move towards you. I am in love with being happy!”
Talking with Kev filled me with even more positive energy. He has such a strong purpose and focus, but it’s more than this. It’s as though it’s an integral part of him and he finds different ways to tap into it and package it up so that it’s easy for the outside world to consume. It made me wonder if he ever had an off-day and, if he did, what would he do about it?
Kev: “I made a decision when I was 31 or 32 that I wasn’t going to suffer any more. I would no longer suffer with my finances, look at my life in a negative way or feel like the tax man or interest rates were chasing me. I wasn’t living; I was existing. I decided that I would achieve incredible things so that one day when I am not here, other people, other children, other children’s children would benefit from my contribution on this planet. For me, bringing laughter is one of the most important aspects of life. If children can believe that laughter and positivity is the way forward in life, then negativity actually drowns itself.”
This was such a powerful statement. How did Kev come to realise the importance of laughter and the impact he could make?
Kev: “During lockdown I was cuddled up watching Angry Birds [cartoon] with my twin boys. We’ve watched it more than 300 times. There’s nothing sad about it but they both randomly started crying. When I asked them why they couldn’t tell me.
In lockdown they’ve probably gone through a mental health knockout compared to what we have as adults; they’ve missed out on time with friends, on schooling, and they’ve had parents getting frustrated or angry with homeschooling (me included). I realised that in the moment they had started crying they’d felt very vulnerable and connected more deeply with me.
Suddenly it was born in my mind that Jongleurs kids comedy is a way of helping children open up, bringing laughter and seeing the world in a more positive light. So I started a project on crowdfunder. Pantomime is a child’s first experience of theatre.”
Through crowdfunding Kev has now organised Jongleurs Kids, designed to provide a platform for eight to 15-year-olds interested in stand-up comedy, through innovative and fun workshops. During the pandemic so many businesses and ideas struggled to get off the ground, so what was it that inspired Kev to move forward with his mission?
Kev: “It was haunting me. Not a lot of people talk about this but the answer is infinite intelligence. It wasn’t me so much as it was me tapping into infinite intelligence. Every hour of every day I’d be thinking about Jongleurs. I knew I had to do something about it and that there was a bigger purpose I had to commit to; bringing laughter back to the UK, something that we desperately need. We’ve gone through so much adversity and I think if we start laughing again and building up positivity through comedy clubs and enjoyable nights out then I’ve made a difference.”
And Kev’s mission doesn’t stop there. He’s keen to hear from schools, learning centres, any venue (100+ seats) that can put on a pantomime for children and help bring laughter to children where the children can become part of the show itself.
You can email Kev with offers or for more information through the British Pantomime Academy.
To hear more from Kev and myself on this topic tune into episode 4 of our Interviews with Experts Podcast.