A world traveler, humanitarian, motivational speaker, and stand-up comic!
Back in mid February of 2022, Ms. Simmone Park happened to see The Comedy Green Room’s Newsletter on a Facebook comedy group. Simmone, a world traveler, is now based in Honolulu Hawaii. This Toronto born and bred lady is quite the dynamo. A world traveler, humanitarian, motivational speaker, and stand-up comic.
Simmone and I started communicating via e-mail and I felt she would be a perfect “Comedy Spotlight.” Ms. Park agreed to be featured on The Comedy Green Room, and our telephone conversation in mid March 2022 certainly reinforced my feeling that Simmone Park is a very accomplished young lady.
Ms. Simmone Park was born in Toronto, ON and grew up in East York and Scarborough. She had a typical Canadian childhood with two older sisters. Naomi was particularly funny and young Simmone wanted to be just like her.
Like any child growing up in an immigrant family, Simmone had a good upbringing scattered with a few very traumatic experiences, all of which became part of her stand-up act. Growing up is tough and Simmone developed self hate and struggled with coming to terms with her dual identity as a Korean Canadian. Ms. Park is honest and vulnerable which allowed her to open up about her journey of overcoming racism as a child and finding self love.
According to Simmone, “self-hate is definitely one of the reasons I choose to expose myself on stage. Speaking about my trauma is a form of healing for me because in the past, I was so ashamed or devastated by the trauma that it maintained a hold over me. By releasing it through jokes on stage, it lessens its stranglehold over me. So, what starts off as self-hate can eventually turn into self-love with the help of a microphone and a stage.”
“Racism in life used to really affect me. My early childhood experiences
with white supremacy and racism totally shaped who I am today, and I continually work to chip away at all that is not really me. I use racism in my comedy all the time, and I hope it comes out in a way where people can stop the hate. All the “isms” can show up from the crowd when I get on stage, and the longer I do standup, the better I get at dealing with it quickly and in a way that shuts that person down.
Racism definitely affects me less as I have gotten older, because I am smart enough to understand that any form of hate has to do more with the person giving it than me and that those people do not love themselves. Well-adjusted, happy people do not have to hate. So, I almost feel sorry for them. What I love about comedy is that you can even get a racist to put their guard down and listen because I just might be funny. I don’t know if any other platform can be so disarming, which is also what I think makes stand-up comedy such a powerful tool and platform for facilitating true change.”
Ms. Simmone Park is a smart and articulate young woman who studied International Business in Canada and Germany, with a focus on cross-cultural communication and negotiation and completed courses with Philanthropy University, powered by Berkeley-Haas. She has lived, worked, and/or studied in ten countries and traveled to fifty countries to date. A lover of giving back, Simmone has helped to source supplies and physically build homes, schools, and sustainable communities in Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala, El Salvador, Kenya, and Panama.
After a violent assault at gunpoint in 2015, Simmone didn’t stop traveling, never spending more than three months in any given location out of fear of her survival. Simmone states, “because I fought the guy and technically robbed him, I denied any PTSD… but it was there. I even had a Vietnam war veteran tell me I had PTSD, and I still denied it. I only came to terms with having PTSD 5 years after the event, once I got to Hawaii, settled in, and started seeing a therapist.”
However, in 2017, Ms. Park was back in Toronto and decided to enroll in the Second City Stand-Up Comedy Course. Shortly after graduating from the Second City Stand Up course with Judy Croon, Simmone entered the “Next Best Comic” competition and beat out over twenty comedians across North America to place in the Top 3 and was the only female finalist to perform at the iconic Chrysler Theatre in Windsor, Canada.
She then moved to Seoul to do comedy and started volunteering with a non-profit that helped to rescue North Koreans. Having worked on many comedy fundraisers with Judy Croon, Simmone created her own, and despite not knowing anyone nor speaking the language, she gained numerous corporate sponsorships and raised enough to fund the rescue of two and a half North Korean refugees. She then traveled to Thailand and fasted for three days in solidarity with North Koreans who continue to starve to death, raising additional funds to save three North Korean refugees. Simmone then went on to perform two days at the Bangkok Comedy Fringe Festival.
The author, David Reuben, asked Ms. Park why stand-up comedy?
“Honestly, I was the type of person to always go for the hardest thing and I love a good challenge. I heard that stand-up comedy is THE most difficult of the performing arts, so I wanted to do that. My first stand up set was August 12, 2017, although it should have been my Second City graduation showcase on August 15, 2017.”
According to Ms. Judy Croon, Simmone’s stand-up comedy teacher, “Simmone is a fearless comic who will try new material at an important show, she is a great writer who does personal material that the audience can relate to.”
Ms. Simmone Park may have been destined to try stand-up comedy. In fact, she lived in Beirut, Lebanon for work in 2009. Russell Peters was doing his Middle Eastern tour and Simmone went to the show and talked her way into meeting him backstage. Fast forward to 2015, Ms. Park was leaving for California to find herself and ran into a comedian who had worked with Russell Peters at Pearson Airport (although she didn’t know it at the time). The two met up in Los Angeles along with the Security Person that let Simmone meet Russell in Lebanon in 2009.
Fast forward to 2017, Simmone started a physical training bootcamp in Ajax where the same comedian she met in 2015 just happened to workout. He was doing a big show on August 12, 2017, and Ms. Park got to open the show, her first ever comedic performance. The author, David Reuben, always says that the world-wide comedy community is a small tight knit group, and you never know when a break could come.
Comedy is a tough business, and it takes a certain type of person to take all the ups and downs of stand-up comedy.
Simmone states “Ha, my dad was born in North Korea, so I am as tough as they come. Generally speaking, I don’t quit, and I have very tough skin. I have climbed literal mountains with zero training (Mt. Kilimanjaro being one of them). I have been through a lot in my life, and I now realize how strong and resilient all these experiences have made me. Hard, pressure, diamond or whatever the saying is. I take on a lot of things and I stop doing them mostly because I get bored and move on to the next thing. What I love about stand up is that you can keep changing up your material. What keeps me going is that one time you hit your jokes just right and get that raucous laughter from the audience. It is crack. I mean, I have never tried crack, but I imagine the highs are similar.”
Ms. Park got hooked on travel at age 15, “My parents would allow me to spend the summer in England and Italy with my best friend’s family. After 4 years in a row in Europe, I was hooked. I specifically chose International Business in University because they made you learn a new language and spend a year in University where that was the primary language. So, if you have early childhood trauma involving white supremacy and the KKK, definitely go to study in Germany! lol. I have made some terrible choices in my life.”
The last few years Simmone has been settling in Hawaii, where she feels safe after the physical attack in 2015. “Hawaii has so many gorgeous hikes so I love to get out in nature as much as I can. Hiking, laying on the beach with a good book… the little things in life for which I am so grateful. I haven’t spent a ton of time in the ocean, but it is amazing here and I try to get in as often as I can. There is something very grounding and healing about the ocean.”
The future is limitless for Simmone Park. She headlined the world-class Bluenote Hawaii in January 2022 with her show, “Once you go Asian…”, then took it to Da Playground in Maui in March 2022 and is in talks with Big Island and Kauai as well. She performed at Aloha Comedy Festival at the end of February and was grateful for the opportunity to perform at the iconic Hawaii Theatre. She was asked to judge a competition for the festival as well.
“Honestly, the dream is to do stand-up full time. I have never fully committed to my art because I have always needed a “job” to live outside Canada full time. I can only imagine how quickly I would progress in my art if I were able to dedicate ALL my time to it, so I am going to work on making comedy my career instead of just a passion.”
You can catch Simmone Park regularly at the Bluenote Hawaii in Waikiki.
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Check out some of Simmone's comedy including her second city graduation set, Gotham Comedy Club in New York City, and her Spanish Comedy Debut!!
Mention you found out about Ms. Simmone Park on www.thecomedygreenroom.com