TRIBES OF HONG KONG都市部族

Exploring the city’s subcultures探索香港各類有趣文化 From left: Jami Gong, Vivek Mahbubani and Matina Leung 專訪棟篤笑藝人

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Meet the Stand-Up Comedians 左起:江沛亨、阿V及梁惠敏

comedians walk into a comedy club in Hong Kong…

It’s a simple phrase that would have only been a joke before 2006, when Hong Kong got its first dedicated comedy venue, TakeOut Comedy. It was opened by Jami Gong, who initially got into stand-up as an undergraduate in New Year nearly 30 years ago. When he launched TakeOut, Gong says, stand-up comedy was little known to the Hong Kong public, and people would call to ask whether the venue had seating (because it’s ‘stand-up’). But things are different now. ‘In addition to regular shows at the weekends, often with overseas performers, we now also organise classes to build more local talent,’ he says.

Vivek Mahbubani is a protégé of Gong’s and has gained renown as one of the few stand-up comedians performing in both Cantonese and English. In fact, Cantonese-language stand-up comedians are few and far between, and Mahbubani says this limits Hongkongers’ experience and understanding of the art form. ‘Many Hongkongers only associate stand-up with the shows of Dayo Wong and Jan Lamb, when there are many different styles of stand-up comedy,’ he says.

One reason Cantonese stand-up is less common is the Asian concept of losing face – people are shy about putting themselves out there. But with stand-up comedy, skills are learnt through failure. A successful comedian, according to Gong, should be able to make the audience laugh six times in one minute, which means a lot of practice.

In a field dominated by men, Matina Leung is among the 10 percent or so of local comedians who are female. ‘In the beginning I was conscious of my gender, but ultimately whether you’re a man or a woman isn’t important. It’s all about driving the atmosphere,’ she says. ‘And even though we’re not big stars, more locals are warming to our style of relaxed and intimate comedy.’

Although their numbers aren’t huge, Hong Kong’s stand-up comedians form a tight-knit community. And while they want to promote stand-up and teach people what it’s all about, Gong says the most important goal doesn’t change: ‘Of course it’s to make them laugh.’

The Hong Kong International Comedy Festival is held 11 October-3 November. hkcomedyfestival.com

棟篤笑藝人走進香港某個喜劇表演場地……這是再簡單不過的句子,可是在2006年香港首家喜劇表演場地TakeOut Comedy開幕前,這只是一個笑話。江沛亨在30多年前於紐約讀大學時便已接觸棟篤笑,他說在開設TakeOut Comedy之前,很

三位 WORDS 撰文

多香港人都不大認識棟篤笑,有人甚至以為它代表大夥兒要站著聽笑話,特地致電詢問場地會否設置座椅。不過,現在它已廣為人知。他說:「我們每個周末除了不時邀請外國棟篤笑藝人來表演外,現在更會開班授徒,培育新一代本地棟篤笑藝人。」

阿V就是江沛亨的得意門生,更是香港少數英、粵語棟篤笑藝人。但廣東話棟篤笑始終不太普及,令本地人對這門藝術認識不深。他說:「香港人認識的棟篤笑主要是黃子華或林海峰的表演,其實還有很多種類呢!」廣東話棟篤笑的另一問題是亞洲人著重面子的文化,讓他們害怕面對觀眾和失敗,但棟篤笑技巧往往需要透過失敗來磨練而成。江沛亨表示,成功的棟篤笑能於一分鐘內令人發笑六次,因此必須勤加練習。

棟篤笑現時以男性藝人為主,梁惠敏等女性藝人只佔一成左右:「雖然一開始我曾經在意自己是女性,但說到底性別不重要,能否帶動氣氛才最要緊。儘管我們不是大明星,但愈來愈多本地人喜歡我們這種令人放鬆心情的窩心表演。」

香港棟篤笑藝人並不多,不過勝在團結,並致力把這門藝術推廣至更多觀眾,不過最重要的目標,還是如江沛亨所言:「博得觀眾一笑。」

香港國際喜劇節於10月11日至11月3日舉行。hkcomedyfestival.com

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