Fun fact: The way people convey laughter online depends on what language they speak. In English, for example, many people type “hahaha” when something funny happens. In Korean, however, they go “kekeke” and in Spanish, it’s “jajaja”.
Amused Thais, on the other hand, just type “555”!
No matter what it looks like, laughter in all its forms is bound to be plentiful at Stand-Up, Asia!, the first Asian original stand-up comedy series from Comedy Central.
A half-hour episode will air every week, giving audiences a chance to to experience the many different flavours of Asian stand-up comedy.
This eight part series is produced by Comedy Central Asia in collaboration with Malaysian comedy entertainment company LOL Events. Filming took place in July at LOL@Live House, Kuala Lumpur, South-East Asia’s biggest comedy club.
Featured are 24 well-known and up-and-coming comedians from all over the world, including Vivek Mahbubani (Hong Kong), Atsuko Okatsuka (United States), Mo Sidik (Indonesia), Sharul Channa (Singapore), GB Labrador (Phillipines), Ron Josol (Canada) and Chris Wright (Thailand).
A third of the line-up are Malaysian; viewers get to chuckle at hilarious anecdotes from local laugh-meisters Andrew Netto, Douglas Lim, Joanne Kam, Kavin Jay, Kuah Jenhan, Papi Zak, Phoon Chi Ho and Rizal van Geyzel!
Tim Tayag (The Philippines)
The comedians appearing on Stand Up, Asia! were told to keep their material clean, as they would be broadcast on local television networks. Some of them were unhappy about this; funnyman Tim Tayag, however, was not.
“I was like, I’m Filipino, so I like to keep it clean. No problems there!” Tayag quipped, poking fun at the stereotype of Filipino cleaners.
The 42-year-old comedian has performed all over the world, including in Hong Kong, the Middle East, France, Singapore, the US and Malaysia, and was recently named one of Asia’s Top 10 Comedians. The versatile performer also writes for travel and lifestyle magazines, and produces On Foot, a quirky international travel programme.
“It can be hard to be a comedian. Sometimes, when you’re not on a stage, and you tell people you’re a comedian, they go, ‘oh but you’re not funny’. And I’m like, well, I’m not working now, am I?” Tayag said with a smile.
According to Tayag, he got an early start in comedy while still in school, where he would do impressions of his teachers.
“The toughest audience I’ve had were my high school classmates. They went to one of my shows once, and all the time, they just heckled me. They thought they were helping!’ I had to go, ‘Guys I know I’m your friend, but I’m trying to do a show!’,” recalled Tayag.
“After that, I learnt not to invite too many friends to a show. Or at least put them in different sections. Not all sitting in one place!”
Jim Brewsky (Hong Kong)
He’s an African American man of the Jewish faith, married to a Chinese Jamaican woman, who lives in Hong Kong. You could call him “a one stop shop for racism”, Jim Brewsky often quips in his stand-up routine.
Originally from Florida in the US, Brewsky, 39, teaches English in a university in Hong Kong. His career in stand-up started unexpectedly; he visited an open mic at the famous TakeOut Comedy Club and met its owner Jami Gong.
“We had a conversation, and I started talking about my life, and how I see the world. And he said, you know what, you’re so messed up, you gotta get on that stage. You see the world in such a way that other people will find funny,” laughed Brewsky.
And Gong was right. Brewsky has since performed around the world, and has received many accolades, including being named winner of the 2015 Magners International Comedy Festival and winner of the 2014 Hong Kong International Comedy Competition. He’s also opened for comics such as Paul Ogata, Ruben Paul and Jimmy Shubert.
His unique and diverse background, he said, provided a unique perspective on life which coloured a lot of his material.
“I’m a transplant from the US. I’m a resident here now, and have been here for more than 14 years. So this is my point of view as a new immigrant to Asia. We’ve always had the Asian voice who went to America or Britain, maybe did some stand-up there, like Ronny Chieng,” said the affable Brewsky.
“But now, you hear my point of view, of what’s it like to be me, living in Asia. I think it’s a different approach which people may not have seen before.”
Neeti Palta (India)
Several years ago, Neeti Palta had a cushy job in an advertising company. Yet something was missing from her life; she ended up leaving the industry to become a writer on a popular Indian children’s television show.
Things really took a turn after she attended a show in Delhi by improv performers Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood (of Whose Line Is It Anyway?). Neeti volunteered to do sound effects for one of their segments.
The segment was a huge hit, and Neeti was approached by a local open mic organiser to do a session. She’s since gone on to become one of India’s most prominent female comedians; Neeti was the first Indian comedian to feature in Melbourne at the Melbourne Comedy Festival 2013, and performed alongside Russell Brand at the 2015 Comedy Central Chuckle Festival in Delhi.
“The best thing about being a comedian is that people think you’re always joking, and you’re never serious. So you can say a lot of things to them, and they’ll say, ‘hahaha, joke!’ That’s also the worst thing about being a comedian,” smiled Neeti, 38.
Being a female comedian, however, occasionally came with challenges.
“Back in my country, if you’re a woman and a comedian, when you get off the stage, even at corporate shows, people talk to you in ways they wouldn’t with other women. There’s no filter. And people are like, she’s up on stage and talking, so it’s okay to say anything to her. And that can get a bit awkward at times,” Neeti said.
What would she be doing if she wasn’t a stand-up comedian? Go back into advertising perhaps?
“I’d be a trophy wife. It’s so much easier,” joked Neeti.