I love jokes. They’re fun to write and perform. It’s what I want to do. I don’t organize things. I don’t network. I’m never the “go to guy” for anything. That’s not me. It never was. I have to be clear that what I want, what I need, is comedy.
Open mics suck. It’s almost a rule. They’re a place to test out jokes to see if they’re funny or not and usually they’re not. Granted it’s not easy as the crowd is mostly comedians busy writing their own material, oblivious of anyone who happens to be performing. But whatever the reason, conditions are rough.
That’s been my experience with open mics since I got started a few years ago. That’s why I was so suprised on wednesday night at the first comedy.hk event, the Hong Kong Brew House open mic in Lan Kwai Fong. That show took my idea of what an open mic is and completely turned it on its head. Continue reading →
Great cab drivers in Guangzhou. Why point that out? Well it’s nice to meet some Chinese cabbies outside of Hong Kong who are polite. I’m really only familiar with the ones from Shanghai and Shenzen; lets just say they’re rude. The cabbies in Shanghai commonly often try to rip you off. Even when you admit know the real price of a ride they’ll stick to their guns and demand their higher, made-up price.
The cabbies in Shenzen on the other hand will simply yell at you. Seriously. They’ll yell. And for something innocuous like driving across the street. Sound weird? It’s common. They’ll take you to nearly your exact destination, and then decide it’s too much trouble for them to do and extra turn or cross the intersection to complete the journey. At they point they yell at you, you pay, and then get out.
So up until last week Shenzen and Shanghai cab rides sealed my opinion on cab drivers from the mainland. Of course it didn’t sit right with me to have a somewhat racist sounding opinion that Chinese cabbies are rude. But meeting the ones in Guangzhou changed all that. I was very happy to realize that there are some really nice ones out there. not only were the cab rides I experienced in Guangzhou very polite, they were also very informative.
One driver gave us a list of different dance clubs we could go to while pointing out the different aspects of each of the clubs to help us choose the best one. Another cabbie did the same type of service for us but for Dim Sum. In both cases they were basically like tour guides offering completely free information. Very thoughtful.
Last week was the 2011 Hong Kong Comedy Competition. I lost again. Total disappointment. But I don’t feel bad from losing. Winning isn’t important for me. I just want to be funny. The reason I’m disappointed is not the fact that I lost, but rather how I lost. It’s the poor strategy I chose for this year’s contest: Playing it safe.
Every joke carries with it the risk that it might not work. But that’s also part of the joy and excitement of a new joke when you write it and then perform it for the first time. I love this process especially when it involves taking an idea that other people are familiar with, but then dissect it in a way that no one has ever thought of before. This is the type of joke that when you hear someone else say it you think to yourself “damn, why didn’t i come up with that?”
There are many great examples of ideas based on simple everyday things that we haven’t really had the time to stop and consider. Just look at what these professionals did with the things they found interesting.
If you’ve never been kicked in the stomach by a stranger then you’ve never swam in a Hong Kong public pool. it’s a battle out there. now it might not be in the stomach, you could also get kicked in the head. which is kind of a weird feeling having a total stranger’s disgusting foot violently collide against your face. there are much better ways to meet people. most of them don’t involve your face meeting feet that’ve been walking around bare on a germ ridden locker room floor.
this is only one type of people that you’ll meet in a Hong Kong public pool: the attackers. they do much more than just punch and kick. a lot of times they might scratch you instead. and not the nice scratch like when you have an itch and scratch it. i mean they’ll give you a long scratch down your back that took some serious arm strength to make.
short note on nails: so i’d like to tell all of the men of hong kong who have those gross extra long nails that they refuse to cut: CUT THEM. PLEASE CUT YOUR NAILS. It’s seriously nasty. girls don’t want a guy with nails longer than theirs. i know you say you need them cuz you play the guitar or maybe you like to pick your nose or maybe you think it’s cool cuz you’re stupid. but its 2011. society is advanced so groom yourself. we put a man on the moon ok? If that’s possible then i think we can handle personal hygiene.
i’m funny. the only problem is that the audience doesn’t always realize it. actually that’s a big problem but it doesn’t bother me that much because to get good at this stand up thing takes a long time. and i have time.
the person who will win the competition does not. He (or she, still waiting on a female that places) is going to win the comedy competition will be someone who can string together 6 or 7 minutes of pretty much uninterrupted laughs.
the first reason i don’t think ill win is because i’ve been failing to balance the 2 sides that make up every comedian, the one part that wants to tell new and original jokes and the other that just has to get the job done and make people laugh. great comedians do both at the same time. people like louis ck, arj barker and ted alexandro come to mind. they’re obviously hilarious. and they do it with jokes that are new and very interesting.
it felt weird doing comedy in an edinburgh basement. Just a few days before I had no plans other than staying in hong kong spending my summer being broke. But then based on some false information, paul ogata heard I was going and he facebooked me about it. he said I could open some of his shows and I thought “why not?” At the time I had zero in my bank account to pay for the trip so the next day I took out a loan for hk$10,000 against my credit card, an extremely American move.
few days later theres a 4-5 movie long flight to london. then from London the 8 hour bus. and although the bus-ride was actually shorter, it seems longer after you factor in the depression of riding a bus. and there’s always that special moment about waiting in a bus station when you look around and ask yourself how you ended up at this point in your life.
a lot of fun. Loved it and audiences were awesome! but I don’t want to give you the wrong idea. the shows were shit. turnout was way too small to be worthwhile. small crowds means less exposure and a ton of more work on your part to get the audience comfortable enough to laugh. but since they audiences were so cool and laughed at everything i had a lot of fun standing up for them.
it’s just a different vibe there. one night paul finished up a good show and after he put the mic away and walked off stage he shrugged his shoulders and said to them “that’s it” as if they were expecting more. big laugh. he spoke again. bigger laugh. for some reason the laughs were way stronger than during the actual show so paul did a few extra minutes without a mic while standing on the floor and killing it for an awesome post show. the fringe is weird like that.
margeret cho and todd barry.
i saw todd barry twice. very funny. his delivery is so subtle that you’re just super focused on what he’s gonna say next. and the payoff is great since his material is strong and very clever. i was sitting on the edge of my seat. the side edge though. the woman on the other side took up more than her seat so I couldn’t get optimal ass seat coverage. i half-assed it.
then there was margaret cho. Wow. i didn’t know if I’d like her because she is really one of those personality comics who has a special following. she gets extremely dirty. but she had one of the best stand up performances I’ve ever seen. flawless. she had the audience eating out of where her palms are at.
there was one bit she had about how horrible it is to use a porto-potty. “Cuz you have to look” she says. “You have to. And you always know which one is yours… A mother always knows.”
it was fun watching djokovik and nadal battle it out at wimbledon up until the third set. cuz that’s when we got kicked out.
my mistake was when i called dan ryan’s and they told me they would show the game i assumed they meant the whole thing. not just the part of it long enough to consume a coke and an order of nachos.
yeah the nachos were good, but not worth missing nadal’s comeback attempt while train hopping to find a new venue. the new place was delaney’s which wasn’t’ bad, but it’d be better without an intermission. tennis isn’t supposed to have halftime but dan ryan’s gave it one this night.