Alright so three years ago I got a pilot for a TV show in Shanghai on International Channel Shanghai. They were looking for a new host for a show called "Culture Matters" and they hired me to shoot a pilot for a rebooted version of the show.
The aim of Culture Matters was to bring foreign and Chinese cultures together and show everyone that we were all the same deep down inside. The guests would be some Chinese professor of white culture from Beijing Unversity and a Chinese-American chick who just moved here from Irvine. The two guests would sit and discuss the interesting subjects like "Do foreigners like Chinese Traditional Medicine" and other snoozers. Nobody watched the show.
So they asked me to host and write for the show. They wanted it to be funny, entertaining and culturally inclusive. This was the plan to get the ratings up.
I pitched ideas like "What's Hot in Wuhu" where we would send my friend William Childress to the Chinese city of Wuhu and he would find out what hot clothing items were selling in downtown Wuhu. I pitched the idea of a kid we hired trying to pick up girls on the street by getting their Wechat information. Finally, I pitched Baijiu Debates (click the link to find out about baijiu), a show where comedians drank Baijiu and then debated the tough topics like "Ninja Turtles vs. Pokemon".
On stage at the Kung Fu Komedy Club in Suzhou introducing the live version of Baijiu Debates.
All three ideas were shot down. The official reason was "You are the host so you are not supposed to be funny. We want you to let the guests be funny, and then somtimes, tell a joke". I had no clue what that meant either.
The pilot took six hours to get a 30 minute show (no meal breaks allowed). My first guest, Jimmy Shubert, had been in China for less than a day, didn't know me at all and was essentially being held hostage in a Chinese TV studio. The show went nowhere. Jimmy and I are now friends. But, 2.5 years later I found old notes from the show and decided to give "Baijiu Debates" a try as its own live comedy show.
Its turning into a party. (L-R: Storm Xu, Me, Mikey Renne and Miracle Yin)
We threw the idea on stage last Saturday (May 15) with Storm Xu, Mikey Renne, Mohammed Magdi and Kaylen Moore as the first guests. I got Miracle Yin (more on Miracle in another post) to be one judge and the audience to be the other judge.
Kaylen Moore speaking her brand of Chinese (just naming different streets in the city).
The concept is simple. After a half-hour of traditional stand up from four comedians, they come back two at a time and we hold a debate. Before each round they have to take a shot of Baijiu, listen to the topic for the first time and finally be told what side they are defending. There are three, two-minute rounds and the the third round must be performed completely in Chinese.
It got wild. Reall wild. Think comedy club in the 80's before political correctness existed.
Miracle and I discussing the rules while Mohammed and Mikey take a much needed break.
I would repeat some of the comments from comedians but truthfully they would sound HORRIBLE in print (hilarious in the room) and also the show must be experienced live. We are coming to Shanghai soon (looking like June 27th) and I already have a number of comedians interested in performing on the show.
Baijiu Debates is here to stay my friends. Video coming soon. Oh also Mikey Renne won. Congrats! We may get a Baijiu Debates Championship Belt.
Mikey Renne making his closing arguments.
Storm Xu going to a place that would end his career if someone had a video camera.