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
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
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