Is this a thinly veiled attempt to promote my headlining show this Saturday night at The Kung Fu Komedy Club in Shanghai? Most certainly yes. But its also a good time to introduce the world of stand up comedy in Shanghai/ Suzhou which I’ve been part of since 2009.
Its me, on Saturday!
I’m eventually going to move back to the US to pursue comedy full-time and for the most part that will be a welcome change, but man there are parts of living in this crazy country that I am going to miss.
First of all, I have traveled quite a bit for comedy now and couldn’t think of a better place to start out as a comedian than Shanghai. I know that sounds insane. “They don’t speak your language". "You don’t have the veterans to guide you”. I get it.
I’m sure everyone says their place is the best and it must be like how everyone thinks their college was hella better than anyone else’s. I honestly think the mix of cultures among comedians and audience in Shanghai forces you to be able to play to anyone from any country and prepares you best to perform all over the world. It has to help right?
Storm Xu on China's international TV network CCTV News
Where else could you start comedy in the west, have an entire set bombs and when you come off stage someone says “Hey that was a German travel group, I don’t think they understand anything”? Maybe that happens in New York, but does it happen multiple times to the point where you learn how to entertain those tourist groups with minimal common language?
It forces you to adapt on the fly.
On my show this weekend are comedians from Egypt, China and a third California born comedian of Iranian descent. Its insane. The audience will be from, without exaggeration, probably 20 different countries. You would think the cultural mix would make everyone more PC but comics are comics and the PC culture hasn’t hit the rest of the world as hard as the USA so there will end up being smart, pointed comedy on stage devolving into hilarious, stereotypical racial jokes about each other at the bar later. Everyone will have fun.
Storm Xu who was mentioned previously on this blog is a good friend of mine and an extremely talented Chinese comedian. Storm performs in both Chinese and English and absolutely kills in both languages. Storm is a skinny, Chinese version of an up-and-coming Patrice O’neal which is bananas in and of itself. If he is not famous within the next few years something is wrong.
Mohammed Magdi will be hosting the show and he is also a wildly interesting person. Mohammed had to leave Egypt a couple years ago as he got too involved in the Arab Spring movement with the student protests. TRUE STORY! Listen to it here on Andy Curtain’s “Stuck in the Middle” podcast.
He decided to move to Shanghai, somehow found our comedy club and is now working his way up the ranks with some hilarious comedy from a perspective you rarely hear.
If you look really closely you may find Mohammed Magdi telling jokes to the rioters
Reyhaneh Rajabzadeh is on the bill too and she is hilarious. I actually just met her a few weeks ago when I got back from the New York trip and started doing sets at the club again. Reyhaneh is originally from Iran and immigrated to the Bay Area in California as a child. She talks a lot about her Iranian heritage and what its like to grow up in the US with a name like hers.
The point is, it seems like everyone out here has a story or a reason why they ended up in China. At some point everyone, including Storm Xu, made a choice to move to China and jump into a crazy adventure (Storm was in Australia for college and found his way back). Then from there, everyone somehow found out there was a comedy club and made another choice to jump into stand up comedy in a country where they barely understood the rules for crossing the street.
This has produced a boat-load of extremely funny, interesting people with a great story to tell and a unique way of telling it. I honestly think that the next 5 years will see an explosion of professional comedians coming out of the Shanghai scene and I’m excited just to be involved.
Is that too much? I love this crew. Eh screw it I’m posting this. Come see my show on Saturday. You’re great.