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Hotseat - Glen Brooks

779_OnA_HoyseatGlen Brooks is a determined and head-strong son of the soil, who is passionate about helping to promote his beloved island and who wants to see his people grow. He already has a head-start as the first person to successfully organise a series of highly-anticipated and well-attended comedy shows, featuring some the funniest comedians in the region and around world. The father of three is working tediously to take his shows to another level – a move he expounds on in this week's Hot Seat.

Who is Glen Brooks?

I am the fifth child of Louis Brooks Ferdinand from St. Louis, Rambaud, and Odette Reymond Brooks from Colombier. I was born at the old Marigot hospital and raised in Agreement with five siblings. Our parents were entrepreneurs and we as kids participated in their business activities. We learnt about respect and hard work from young and I knew that nothing comes easy.

Education?

I attended Marigot Primary Boys School and Collège in Concordia. In 1984, my parents sent me to French Guiana where my oldest brother (now Reverend Brooks of the Methodist church) was studying. I obtained Bachelor's degrees in Electronics, Superior Technician, Computer Science and Data Processing from the Lycée of Baimbridge in Guadeloupe. I furthered my studies specialising in Industrial Robotics then served the French Army. When I returned to the island, I worked for Datacom/Infotel and later at the Grand Case Airport Tower Information Service, where I have been for the past 17 years.

How would you describe yourself?

A friendly yet serious person who loves life, is determined, and is faithful to true and genuine friends.

What's the story behind Laugh Till Belly Burst?

Comedy was part of my life from young. My father was an unofficial comedian, who had tourists cracking up during taxi island tours. I would later share his jokes with my siblings. Laughter became one of my favourite hobbies, along with football and billiard. I used to set my alarm to 11:00pm to watch BET Comic View and HBO Def Comedy Jam. In 2004, while in Miami, I experienced my first stand-up comedy show. It was a totally different feeling watching comedy in person and seeing it on TV. After that show, I slipped backstage and spoke to the comedians. The idea of hosting a comedy show in St. Maarten stayed with me after that.

How did you come up with the name?

While planning the first show, I said if one joke can make people laugh until their belly cramped, doing this for three to four hours will surely make their belly burst, and I wrote down Laugh Till Belly Burst without hesitating.

What goes into such a production?

We cater to comedians of high calibre who are in demand around the world. We have to book them eight months in advance, start negotiations and get sufficient material to be able to prepare an interesting and well-presented booklet and sit with our partners, sponsors or government.

Why laughter?

I can crack a joke among close friends, but I was too shy to get on stage and do this myself. So I said if I can't do it, I will make it happen. I like being creative and detest seeing promoters jumping in each other's line of entertainment. How can we call ourselves the Friendly Island if we don't have laughter in our daily lives? If our tourism workers laugh and smile more to visitors, it will be a major contribution to tourism.

What's responsible for the show's success?

We've been serious in our productions, giving patrons their money's worth with well-known Caribbean and international comedians. We do a fresh show each year and give locals a chance to highlight their talent. We respect our sponsor's dollar. What we promise on paper, we deliver in person.

Favourite comedian?

Caribbean veteran Trevor Eastmond from Barbados and Steve Brown from Alabama are among the best of the best; both should be at our 10th anniversary show in 2015.

What do you do in your spare time?

Spend time with my kids and family, movies, restaurant, beach and a little travelling.

Hobbies?

I'm a football addict. I follow all European soccer championships and the European Cup. I did major international soccer and pool tournaments, but preferred putting my energy in comedy.

Pet Peeve?

I don't like people who sit all day and hate on others who decide to go out and do something with their lives. There is space for all of us to do something to better ourselves and we are bettering our community by doing so. Our youths are left to fend for themselves. They finish school and see people coming in and holding key positions they are capable of holding. I think this is a ticking time-bomb that will be a major issue in the next five to 10 years.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I'll be 53. Wow! I hope to be a proud father to my three kids. Our goal is to transform LTBB into a destination event, and like Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Aruba and Curaçao, have a recognised and popular destination event catering to visitors for four days of fun and humour.

Biggest fear?

That our people lose hope. Personally, I hope that my health does not deteriorate. I've seen the negative effects of cancer and diabetes on people.

Favourite type of music?

I'm a zouk lover, but I listen to different types of music. The soca and calypso melody is in me, but sometimes a mellow instrumental music is necessary especially at night.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

Nelson Mandela, Louis Amstrong and Mohammed Ali are all legends, who changed the course of history. I'm not very strong in the kitchen, but I'm sure they'd enjoy a nice local pea soup.