Since moving to Asia, stand-up comedy has become a big part of my new life. It wasn’t the main goal I had when I made the decision to move here, but it was definitely in the back of my mind. Still, If you had told me before I moved to Chiang Mai that I would later decide to relocate to Bangkok solely to immerse myself in it’s comedy scene I wouldn’t have believed you. I was very happy living in Chiang Mai, but after doing some open mics there even just a handful of times I knew that I had to give taking it seriously a try, and that meant doing it more than once every two weeks at the bi-monthly talent show hosted at The Corner Bistro. As soon as I found out about the Khao San Comedy Club and the daily stage time that was available in Bangkok, I booked up that 75 minute one-way flight down south.
My first gig of 2019 was actually in Berlin, Germany a few days after New Year and about a week before I flew out to Thailand. There was an open mic being held at the basement room of the hostel I was staying at. I put my name down for the next show, which I had a week to prepare for. I wrote 5 minutes of jokes on the notes app of my iPhone in my hostel dorm the night before. It was still a passable performance. But of course, being here, 8 months and nearly 100 gigs later I look back thinking it was absolutely woeful. Nevertheless, after I got off stage I was so relieved I had performed stand-up for the first time in years and hadn’t completely bombed.
The gig that got me back into performing comedy!
It took me a while to settle into living in Asia, but in late February I got back on stage to perform again. Fortunately for me, the Chiang Mai expat community is very support and encouraging. Not all open-mics are filled with audience members as understanding as they were. I would have hated to try and get the ball rolling in much front of much harsher and belligerent crowds. Still, after finding my feet and piecing solid 10 minute set, I knew it was time to move on.
Bangkok is huge. as is the opportunity for good, consistent stage time. I had been booked up to perform at The Khao San Comedy Club just a few hours after I got off my flight from Chiang Mai after messaging the owner, Jon Samson the night before. He asked for some video evidence of me not completely sucking at comedy, and once he saw me perform on YouTube, I was in! Despite feeling exhausted from all the things I had to go through that day, I showed up, performed my 11 minute set and had a really good reception from the crowd. Since that day I’ve been regular performer at the Khao San Comedy Club, performing an average of 5 nights a week. The two hours of flyering before the show can be a real pain, but the access to the quantity of stage time for open spots is something I haven’t seen of heard of anywhere in any other city in the world. I would never have made such huge improvements to my material and stage presence in such a short space of time if I wasn’t living in Bangkok, and I will be forever grateful for the existence of the KSCC.
A small clip of me at the Khao San Comedy Club
.My friends Chris Raufeisen and Justin St-Denis are the co-founders of RAW Comedy, a weekly open-mic night held every Wednesday in downtown Bangkok. The great thing about performing here is that this venue is designed for comedians to try out new material, and therefor there is absolutely no pressure have a good set. It’s also open to absolutely anyone! If you’ve never done stand-up before and find yourself in Bangkok on a Wednesday, head down to RAW Comedy on Sukhumvit soi 13 around 8pm, and you’ll be given 3 minutes on stage, no questions asked! Performing there is always a nice break from Khao San, especially due to the community built around that open mic. Bonding with regular audience members as well as performers after the show really helps me detach from the often cut-throat competitive atmosphere that the comedy industry can bear, even at the grassroots level.
Onstage at RAW Comedy Bangkok.
I’m not exactly sure what my next in move in comedy is going to be. The money you can make and the general public interest in English language comedy will always be much lower in Asia than it is in the western world, so at some point I will have to make the decision whether or not I want to turn comedy from a hobby I have a deep passion for into my main hustle, where I make any and all sacrifices I would need to make for the “dream.” But as for now, I’m very happy getting on these mics here in Asia in front of crowds of mainly expats and backpackers. Not only does spending this time in my life in Asia have lots of other benefits, but it is also a great place to improve your material and get it as polished as you possibly can so that you’re more ready to step into bigger comedy circles when that time comes.