The Marvel Avengers are assembling for The Civil War but the superheroes in Asian comedy are here on a different mission. The annual Singapore Comedy Fringe is back and it’s bigger than ever!
Bono thinks that comedy can help to fight the ISIS. And he is right. We believe comedy is a superpower in itself. Instead of sending over the usual boring suspects such as Amy Schumer and Chris Rock, we propose sending in an international team of superhero comedians to fight the war on terror. In fact, the Bono should come to down to Asia to see what we have to offer. The folks of Comedy Club Asia are heralding the call for action and have assembled a team of the best local and international comedic talents for Singapore Comedy Fringe, a five-day stand-up extravaganza. From 26 to 30 April, get ready to laugh your guts out at ten different shows featuring more than 25 stand-up comedians from around the globe.
In fact, Asia is poised to be the next big thing in comedy. The growth in the scene is simply phenomenal as a new crop of stand-up comedians emerges in a tidal wave that is sweeping over the region. Many talented performers are sprouting up in Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong and India. And we are only just getting started. Even Singapore is shedding its staid reputation and becoming a hotspot for upcoming comedic talents.
Back in 2013, we saw Rishi Budhrani and Fakkah Fuzz being included in Asia’s Top 10 Comedians list by Top10 Asian Magazine. For Fuzz, all his hard work has paid off with the upcoming staging of his first ever one-hour solo show,“In Fuzz We Trust”. The funny women from “Show Us Your Wits”, Sharul Channa and our Tomboy Tirade own Joanna Sio have recently completed their run of shows at the comedy festivals in Australia. And we can’t wait to see how they rock the stage with their lethal combination of sass and swagger.
With the influx of comedy events, is there too much of a good thing? Will the audiences ever get tired of stand-up comedy? We speak to Heazry Salim, co-founder of The Comedy Club which organises the Singapore Comedy Fringe, to find out his take on the local and regional comedy scene.
TT: What’s so special about this year’s Singapore Comedy Fringe Festival?
There are a few things special about the Singapore Comedy Fringe Festival this year:
Fakkah Fuzz’ first one-hour solo show
The Comedy Club Asia prides itself on developing and providing a platform for local talents with our Talk Cock Comedy Open Mic Nights (every Wednesday and Thursday at Blu Jaz Cafe). One of the best things to come out from this is Fakkah Fuzz. He is the rising voice of comedy of Singapore – ready to join legends such and Kumar and Hossan Leong as a mainstay in the local/regional comedy scene. Doing your first hour-long special can be daunting but I’m sure he will leave the audience in stitches. This is a big step for this stand-up comedy career.
Click here to listen to our Tomboy Tirade Interview with Fakkah Fuzz.
Harith Iskander – the Godfather of Malaysian Stand-Up comedy – will be doing his first solo show here in Singapore at the Singapore Comedy Fringe. He will be performing the Singapore Edition of the show that set a record of 9,000 attendees in KL. We are honoured that he is doing the Laugh Malaysia Show at the Singapore Comedy Fringe.
Best of Asia
We are proud to present this showcase because we’ve seen the growth of these comedians as performers over the years. One the bill are 3 winners of the Hong Kong International Comedy Competition, 2 founders of the Crackhouse Comedy Club KL (Southeast Asia’s first full-time comedy club) and a Singapore comedian who has just returned from a successful run of shows at the Perth and Adelaide Fringe. These guys are the new wave of stand-up comedy in Asia.
TT: How has the stand-up scene changed since the Singapore Comedy Fringe edition 1.0?
The local performers are growing stronger in confidence with their craft. During the first edition of Singapore Comedy Fringe, you found that they are good to perform – at maximum 10-15 minutes of good material. Since that first Singapore Comedy Fringe festival, they’ve been introduced to other regional and international comedians, traveling to each other’s cities to perform and fine-tuning their skills in the process. Recently, a good number of the local comedians have been invited to perform at international festivals such as Weirdass Pajama Festival (India), Perth Fringe, Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The Singapore scene is represented well at these international festivals these days.
TT: What is the stand-up comedy scene like in Singapore today?
The stand-up comedy scene is blossoming. For a long time, the only regular shows were the ones featuring Kumar. Today you have 4-5 regular weekly shows. When we first started the open mic nights, I was pretty sceptical about the number of Singaporeans who were willing to give it a go. I was proved wrong – they have been crawling out of the woodwork. We have a steady stream of “comedy virgins” that contact us on a weekly basis to book a spot to be on stage. The ones who dedicate themselves to performing – with time and effort – can now earn a decent living as a stand-up comedian. A few of the local comedians are doing this full time.
TT: Which acts do you look forward to in this year’s edition of Singapore Comedy Fringe?
There are so many good acts to choose from! Jonathan Atherton, Peter Berner, Cam Knight, Paul Ogata, Pete Johansson, Daliso Chaponda, Harith Iskander. These guys are at the top of the food chain and masters of the craft.
I have to give a special mention to the show “Show Us Your Wits”. Sharul Channa, Kristel Zweers, and Joanna Sio have just completed their run of shows at the comedy festivals in Australia. I can’t wait to see their performances with all that invaluable experience under their belts. There will be plenty of sassiness and swagger on stage.
TT: Who are the up-and-coming Singapore and international comics to look out for at this year’s Singapore Comedy Fringe festival?
Some of the exciting comics to look forward to are Samuel See (SIN), Brian Tan (MAL), Biswa Kalyan Rath (IND) and Hannan Azlan (MAL).
I would keep an eye out for Hannan – a ukulele playing quirky act. She is a relative newcomer to the stand-up comedy scene and a talented actress, singer, and songwriter. Seeing her performing for the first time at Talk Cock Comedy, I understood why the other comics were raving about her.
TT: Why do you think that there is a growing market for stand-up comedy in Asia?
Yes, there is definitely a growing market for stand-up comedy in Asia. We’re all just getting started. We’re at the beginning of the life cycle. If you look at matured markets in the US and the UK, we have a long way to go and grow.
TT: What are the future prospects for the stand-up scene in Singapore and rest of Asia?
The future’s so bright I’ve gotta wear shades. 🙂
A word of caution – we do have to be careful not to saturate the market with substandard shows. As long as the shows are run in the right spirit and quality, we should be able to continue to enjoy a vibrant scene for years to come.
What are you waiting for? Get your Singapore Comedy Fringe tickets at Sistic today!