How do you kill a vegetarian vampire? With a steak to the heart! Did you hear the joke about the bed? It hasn’t been made yet!
Okay, we’re sorry you had to suffer through those really bad jokes. If it’s GOOD humour you’re looking for, may we suggest you watch Comedy Central Stand Up, Asia!, which features some of the best comedians from around Asia and the world doing what they do best.
This Comedy Central original series was launched last year and now returns for its second season. There are 16 comedians ready to entertain with rib-tickling humour.
The show is produced in partnership with Malaysian comedy entertainment company LOL Events.
Comedy Central Stand Up, Asia! features a star-studded line-up, with homegrown comedians Jason Leong, Keren Bala Devan and Shamaine Othman alongside international names such as Alex Calleja (Philippines), Ben Quinlan (Hong Kong), Danny Cho (United States/Korea), Dilruk Jayasinha (Sri Lanka/Australia), Eliot Chang (US), Garron Chiu (Hong Kong), GB Labrador (Phillipines), Imran Yusof (Britain), Papa CJ (India), Paul Ogata (US/Japan), Rishi Budhrani (Singapore), Sharul Channa (Singapore) and Walter Hong (US/Korea).
The show was filmed in front of a live studio audience at the HGH Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur on July 13 and 14.
We spoke to a few of the featured comedians to hear their thoughts on Malaysia and how they got started in standup comedy.
Most comedians have performed in front of a dead audience. Calleja has done that, literally.
The Filipino comedian once did his bit at the wake of a friend, who personally requested him to do so.
“It was one of his last requests. It felt strange, you’re performing and there’s this coffin at the back. It was bittersweet, seeing everyone laughing at this time, but it was good to give them a little happiness,” Calleja recalled with a laugh.
“For the people who didn’t know about this arrangement, some of them were, ‘What is he thinking?’”
A former IT worker, Calleja is now a comedy writer on many popular Filipino comedy shows, as well as a DJ and television host.
Last year, he was first runner-up in Laugh Factory’s Funniest Person in the World competition, beaten only by Malaysia’s Harith Iskander.
Calleja has visited Malaysia before (he loves our local pan mee) and is a big fan of our local comedy scene.
“We have comedy in the Philippines, but it’s not as big as it is here. We’re slowly getting there though. I’m so fascinated by how people in Malaysia pay to go watch comedy. It’s what we dream of,” he said.
For the Hawaii-born Ogata, Malaysia is one of his favourite places to visit.
“The weather is great all year long. The food is delicious, and the people are friendly. The landscape is lush and green, it’s very much like Hawaii!” enthused Ogata.
Growing up, Ogata was always the class clown. When he was in university, he saw posters for a comedy competition, which he joined.
“I tied for third. Out of four contestants,” he said, deadpan, before smiling. “Nah, I did okay.”
From there, Ogata became instantly hooked on comedy. From humble beginnings, he rose to becoming an award-winning comedian, emerging victorious in the 2007 San Francisco International Stand-Up Comedy Competition.
He’s since made numerous television appearances, including The Late Late Show and Comics Unleashed.
Who would play him, if there was a movie made of his life?
“Denzel Washington. He’s such a good actor, he can do anything. He’d nail playing a Japanese guy from America,” quipped Ogata.
Keren Bala Devan and Jason Leong
If you were to meet them both on the street, it would seem that there is little connection between Leong and Keren. So, what do they have in common? They are both highly prominent comedians in the rapidly growing Malaysian comedy scene.
Known for his style of “rant comedy”, Keren has been featured in various events around Malaysia. He has headlined Comedy Masala in Singapore and opened for a Paul Ogata show.
Keren first got started in comedy at 2010; he took a hiatus of about two years due to his studies. When he returned, however, he realised that comedy was always close to his heart – and to his house.
“There was this show in 2012, One Mic Stand. And the reason I joined was because it was near to my house, I didn’t have to travel far. And the more I went there, the more I realised it was something I loved doing. And it just spiralled from there! In what direction you can decide lah,” Keren said with a laugh.
Leong’s journey, on the other hand, stretched much further. In 2010, the young comedian, then working in Penang, decided to (literally) go the distance for comedy.
“I got a chance to do an open mic show in Zouk KL. So I drove four hours down, took two days off,” recalled Leong. “They gave me five minutes. I did nine. But they liked it! From there, I slowly got more regular gigs, and as they say, the rest is comedy!”
Leong certainly went far – in 2013, he became the first Malaysian comic to win the seventh Annual International Hong Kong Comedy Competition.
He has performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and recently had a sold-out solo show, You Stupid Or What?, which will soon be performed in Singapore.
Quite a career for this former doctor, who was previously working full-time at a hospital. Does he ever miss his medical days?
“Not really. Maybe occasionally, if a friend needs help. I love what I’m doing now. And to be part of Comedy Central’s show in Asia, being able to work with the biggest comedy network in the world, it’s a dream come true. How many doctors have that chance?” concluded Leong.