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Ivan Aristeguieta: How stand-up comedy helped me learn Australian English

Ivan Aristeguieta
Comedian Ivan Aristeguieta.

Supplied: Buxstock Comedy Management

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Venezuela-born comedian Ivan Aristeguieta moved to Australia five years ago and is performing at this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival in his second language, English. Ivan shares his tips on quickly gaining fluency in Australian English and describes the difference between ordering a coffee in Australia and Venezuela.

Growing up in Venezuela, Ivan Aristeguieta learnt English through school lessons and private tuition, which his father strongly encouraged. When Ivan decided to migrate to Australia, he was already comfortable with the English language but there were features of Australian English that he had to learn and adapt to. For example, Australians say "chook instead of chicken, and lift instead of elevator", he observes.

Ivan also had to learn about Australian coffee menus and discover the difference between a short black, a long back, a flat white and a latte. In Venezuela, coffee orders are described by their colour, such as "light brown or dark brown".

"Everybody has a different [coffee] colour and the guy knows how to do it. It's definitely more complicated in Venezuela than it is in Australia," says Ivan.

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Watch Ivan Aristeguieta's sketch about ordering a coffee in Australia. This is a scene from his ABC iView show, Lost in Pronounciation. Vimeo: Julia de Roeper

Before moving to Adelaide in South Australia, Ivan had been a full-time comedian in Venezuela for two years. He was keen to continue doing comedy in Australia but being funny in Spanish isn't the same as being funny in English.

Ivan's determination to perform stand-up comedy in English meant that he enrolled in a course at the Australian Radio School in Adelaide within his first three weeks of moving to Australia. He also took lessons with a speech coach.

Ivan Aristeguieta
Ivan Aristeguieta performing stand-up comedy.

Supplied: Buxstock Comedy Management

"Wanting to do stand-up in Australia made me adapt very quickly. So I knew that I needed to have a lot of Australian friends. I knew that I needed to go to the cricket and the footy with them, and go to barbeques and talk to them and listen to them and ask lot of questions," says Ivan.

The hard work of familiarising himself with Australian culture and the way that Australians speak has paid off for Ivan. This year he has already performed his stand-up show Juithy - a play on the word 'juicy' - at the Adelaide Fringe and the Canberra Comedy Festival.

Juithy is also part of the upcoming Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Sydney Comedy Festival and the Perth Comedy Festival.

Ivan often performs jokes that are based on peculiarities he has observed in Australian culture. These have included Australian slang and sausage sizzles, which are barbequed hot dog sausages on white sandwich bread served with onions and sauce.

Ivan Aristeguieta - Juithy
Ivan Aristeguieta will perform his stand-up show, Juithy, at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Supplied: Buxstock Comedy Management

Reflecting on the five years he's spent living in Australia and gaining fluency in Australian English, Ivan has two useful tips to share, particularly for visual learners.

The first tip is to use subtitles when watching television and movies in English:

His second tip is to not be embarrassed about asking questions:

Ivan Aristeguieta is performing his show Juithy at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from Thursday 30 March to Sunday 23 April. He is also performing at the Sydney Comedy Festival from Thursday 4 May to Sunday 8 May.

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