Stand-Up Comedy in Beijing: Expats and locals test out their jokes in English
It's no secret that Chinese audiences love American movies, and now, it seems the same can be said for American-style comedy. Stand-up comedy, that is. The scene here in China is really in its infant stages - but thanks to a few key players, it's picked up a lot of traction recently. As China becomes more global, cities like Shanghai and Beijing have become homes to comedy clubs that offer up laughs in both Chinese and English. Here's a peek inside one of the two English-language open mic nights in the city.
Grab your beer, dig into those wings, and settle in. The show is about to begin. Well, it's not really a show. But in Beijing, it often feels like one.
This is one of the two weekly stand up comedy open mics in the city, where comedians come to test out their jokes.
"My dad used to say to me that if I ever catch you smoking, I'm gonna sit you down at the table and make you smoke the whole box of cigarettes until it's not fun anymore."
"I'm a Mexican and I am here to take your jobs. So that means I got five jobs right now. All of them English teaching. There's one American who didn't get it."
And it helps when there is an audience, like tonight.
Two Wechat groups exist for people to sign up for the open mics on either Tuesday at Paddy O'Shea's, or at The Local on Wednesday. Which is where we are today, in the heart if Beijing's Sanlitun district.
JENNIFER HSIUNG BEIJING "Okay so as you can see here, the list is full tonight. They usually take 15 pre-signups and leave three signups that are open at the door. I see a lot of old and new names, new faces, so it should be a fun night."
David Fertitta has been doing stand-up comedy in Beijing for 5 years now. The American is hosting the open mic tonight and will soon move back to the United States where the stand-up comedy scene is very different than it is here.
DAVID FERTITTA AMERICAN COMEDIAN "It's not quite the same, I've done it a litte in America. Here, it's a smaller group, we're all friends, we're all trying to push each other up, you know, it's very supportive. Whereas in the States it's business, it's competitive."
Whether new or experienced, the goal for every comedian here is always the same: To make the audience laugh.
But that's not always an easy feat, especially when you have a very international crowd. Pop culture references that are too specific to any one place or culture, might not always work.
As a result, most of the comedians in Beijing, usually crack jokes about their personal experiences in China.
DAVID JACOBS AMERICAN COMEDIAN "I always say Beijing is better why? Because of the people. Right? It's about the people in Beijing they are better than Shanghai people right? Right? Right? Here's the thing though guys, if you've ever been here for Spring Festival the best time of the year? Why is that? Cause there's no people. That's the best time of the entire year in Beijing."
"Are you single? You, you got a boyfriend?"
Some comedians choose to make the audience members a part of their act. Sometimes it works, and sometimes, well...
"Okay the crowd work didn't work tonight, that's fine. Try new things."