Focus on Asian comics

THE Asian stand-up comedy scene has been growing in leaps and bounds with more comedians taking to the stage and more platforms being created to help them shine.

One such platform is Comedy Central Stand-up, Asia!, an eight-episode series that will showcase 24 stand-up comedians from nine different countries across Asia.

The series, a collaboration between HyppTV's Comedy Central and LOL Events, will premiere on Aug 23.

Shooting took place in front of a live audience on July 18 and 19 at LOL@Live House in TREC Kuala Lumpur.

During a recent press conference, media and guests were entertained by a five-minute segment each from five of the comedians featured on the series.

They were Neeti Palta from India, Vivek Mahbubani from Hong Kong, Tim Tayag from The Philippines, and Malaysians Andrew Netto and Douglas Lim.

When asked how they pick the kind of jokes which will work internationally, Vivek explained: "Generally, for me, when I go to new places I talk to the local comics just to see if they get my local references.

"Also I spend some time looking around the city. I find that in Asia, a lot of cities are similar and so a lot of what we find funny overlaps."

He also regaled us with a story about sitting between two girls in a train in Hong Kong and pretending not to understand their conversation which was in Cantonese. He then shocked them by speaking Cantonese in a phone conversation.

Other stand-up comedians present at the launch were Mo Sidik from Indonesia, and Jim Brewsky from Hong Kong.

When he was here for a comedy festival last year, Mo made jokes about the haze situation, and also the problems that come with being overweight.

"Fat jokes are universal," said Mo, who added that he practises his jokes on his wife and son first. "Some jokes you hear take years [to refine].

"If I were not a comedian, I would be slim. I am in this shape because it is funny."

Also present at the event were LOL Events founder and CEO Rizal Kamal, Viacom International Media Network (VIMN) executive producer Sari Trisulo, and VIMN's senior vice president of MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount brands and Digital Media, Asia, Paras Sharma.

Paras said that it is the aim of Comedy Central to improve its ability to provide premium comedy content to fans in Asia, while creating a platform for both regional and local comics to get a larger exposure among Asian audiences.

"Stand-up is the key genre of Comedy Central," added Paras. "As we feature talents like Tracy Morgan, David Spade or Richard Everett, we also want to discover Asian talent who are very talented and produce good content."

Paras said Comedy Central Asia had been searching for over a year for the right partners who were just as passionate about this project as they were.

"This is the most extensive stand-up comedy show produced in Asia featuring so many different countries."

Sari added: "We shot eight shows over two days, with three comedians per episode. Each 30-minute episode was also recorded in front of a live audience."

Paras said they are mindful about the sensitivities of their audience, but at the same time need to keep the humour.

He said they were confident the talents they worked with were able to create content suitable for the audience.

"At no time was there a trade-off with the laughter quotient," he stressed.

Rizal said that during his seven years in the business he has worked with most of the comedians that will be featured on Comedy Central Asia.

"These are probably the most talented comic bunch in Asia."