Stand-up comedians from a variety of Asian countries, performing in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival to a full room in the Chinese Museum on a Tuesday night. Perhaps not a regular occurrence, but one that was certainly worthwhile attending – it was fun, with laughs the entire night, and a taste of comedy that is slightly different from Australian norms to make it interesting. Comedy Zone Asia features Anirban Dasgupta, Joanne Kam, Fakkah Fuzz, Sonali Thakker, and Zainal Bostaman.
Having a variety of different comedians perform can breed a sense of complacency as an audience members. The audience expects most stand-up comedians to be roughly the same – loud, brash, using with and presence of personality to carry the day. And there was plenty of this here – but there were also other styles – the practiced awkward outrage of the protestor, the completely deadpan style who never raised their voice once, and the sales pitcher all made an appearance on top of the vibrant and larger-than-life characters that could come straight from the Crazy Rich Asians set. This variety made the show really interesting, and Australian comedians should really watch this show to get some ideas on how to spice-up a routine.
Actually, Australians in general could learn something from watching this. The comedians obviously tailored their shows to an Australian audience, but even so, getting used to the accents (not played for laughs) and mannerisms of performers from non-Australian backgrounds would be a good thing. There were plenty of insights into political and social happenings in other countries – stereotypes of their own countries and how Western countries are viewed made a healthy amount of the show, but oddly not in an offensive attacking fashion. Rather it was insightful and all tongue in cheek, although there were some moments of seriousness. Pathos and humour and all that jazz. These comedians are obviously well trained in this art.
Overall, a fun and diverse range of comedy that kept the audience laughing the entire night. Having the differences in performing styles, and possibly due to the nature of foreign performers, made the show very much enjoyable and something different from the usual types of stand-up that Australia is used to. Let us hope there are many more shows like this in the future.
Comedy Zone Asia is on at 7pm at the Chinese Museum until 21 April as part of the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets are available from the comedy festival website or at the venue.