FUNNY GIRLS

Published on 10 April 2017

Photo: Base Entertainment Asia

What does it take to be an Asian female comic? We get the comediennes performing in the upcoming all female stand-up comedy show Laugh You Long Time to fill us in.

By Melanie Lee

JENNY YANG (USA)

Photo: Base Entertainment Asia

Watch her here.

How did you know you wanted to go into comedy?

I tried stand-up after a lifetime of people telling me I was funny.

Do you think Asian female comics have a greater hurdle to cross compared to female comics from the West?

Comedy is already hard for anyone to do. Beyond that, how you look in terms of your body, shape, size, voice and, of course, perceived gender and race, affects how people receive you. Certainly, being Asian American, a cultural minority in the United States, adds to the challenges of a comedy career. That’s why I created my own comedy tour and comedy festival. It has provided a huge platform for me and fellow Asian American comedians.

What advice would you give to women who want to become comics?

Get a notebook and have it with you at all times. Capture your thoughts in that notebook, no matter how silly they may seem because you will never remember them. Like how you get fit by working out at the gym, you get funny by doing. You have to keep trying stand-up to learn. Connect with supportive friends and fellow comedians. Rinse and repeat.

JOANNE KAM (MALAYSIA)

Photo: Base Entertainment Asia

Watch her here.

How did you know you wanted to go into comedy?

I actually started out wanting to be an actress and entertainer. However, when I was a performer at Haw Par Villa Dragon World (a long, long time ago), I was always given the funnier roles because of my size. From there, I transitioned from doing comedy characters to stand-up comedy. I worked at Boom Boom Room in Singapore alongside Kumar. I figured, well, I ain’t never going to be an air stewardess, so I might just stick to this.

Do you think Asian female comics have a greater hurdle to cross compared to female comics from the West?

Yes, very much so. As Asian women, we’ve been taught not to air our dirty laundry in public, so when we go up on stage to talk about sex, marriage and kids, the general misconception is that we are too outspoken. I think it’s a general rule for female comics not to invite guys they like to their comedy show if it’s a first date. You can literally see the fear in the guys’ eyes!

What advice would you give to women who want to become comics?

Get out there to get your stuff heard. Do the open mics and work your way up. Consistency is the key to a successful career.

MICHELLE CHONG (SINGAPORE)

Watch her here.

How did you know you wanted to go into comedy?

I didn’t! I wanted to be a supermodel! I did dabble in modelling for a while. Unfortunately, I had scoliosis and people were always laughing at my uneven hips. I thought I might as well make some money out of being laughed at. I have the lack of Photoshop (back then) to thank for being in comedy.

How did you get our first break?

When I was given my first Kit Kat – I’ll forever be grateful to my kindergarten teacher for that.

Do you think Asian female comics have a greater hurdle to cross compared to female comics from the West?

No, unless they pretend to be ang moh female comedy actresses. Because not all Asian female comedy actresses can do ang moh accents and look convincing in blonde wigs.

What advice would you give to women who want to become comics?

Make sure you can’t make it as a supermodel first. Comedy is a lot harder.

SHARUL CHANNA (SINGAPORE)

Photo: Base Entertainment Asia

Watch her here.

How did you know you wanted to go into comedy?

Stand-up comedy found me at the right time in the right place. I was at the lowest point of my life when I tried my hand at an open-mic session. When the first laugh happened within the first three minutes, I got hooked! (Editor’s note: You can read more about this in her earlier profile on The A List here).

Do you think Asian female comics have a greater hurdle to cross compared to female comics from the West?

I think our struggles are different in the sense that Asian women are expected to be shy and lady-like in our conservative society. We have to cross huge hurdles before getting to the mic.

What advice would you give to women who want to become comics?

Listen to your inner voice, trust your instincts and keep working on the craft.

Laugh You Long Time will be on from Thurs 20 – Sat 22 April 2017 at Marina Bay Sands MasterCard Theatres. Stand-up comics Jenny Yang, Joanne Kum and Sharul Channa will be hosted by comedy actress Michelle Chong. This show, which is presented by Base Entertainment Asia, is the first all-Asian female stand-up comedy happening in Singapore. Click here for more information. 

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