What do I know about comedy?
Not much. I simply don't get it when people claim Chaplin was a genius. Perhaps he was, and he certainly made a lot of money, wrote, directed and starred in a lot of movies but the thing is I see a short man in baggy trousers, that is all I see. Laurel and Hardy, ditto. Fat guy, skinny guy, plank of wood, ducking. Slap.
......Bish, bash, bosh...
I think it is all in the writing. Not to be snobbish. So much more can be done with the written word than with a bunch of props and a grainy black and white picture.
A friend asked me to go along to the Comedy Club Bangkok.
Naturally, I agreed.
I admire the comics that stand up and deliver a routine knowing that their performances will take years of practice to perfect, the only way to move forward is to just keep doing it. So they do it again and again. Find out what works, what doesn't. This is what entertainment is all about. Right?
I know what makes me laugh and that is a list that probably starts with Monty Python, flirts with Peter Cook, winds up with the sit-coms of the nineteen eighties.... The days before Rowan Atkinson sold his soul for a garage full of neatly packed sports cars with a character that makes people laugh from Kathmandu to Cairo.
"Allo Allo' was even funny before one understood the atrocities that 'append during the war.
When I asked a good German friend what made him laugh, "I don't know, us Germans go into the cellar to laugh,' he replied. And do other things, I thought...
My thirst for comedy was quenched during my teens with American spoof cinema, Space Balls, Naked Gun, The Man with Two Brains, Airplane. I much enjoyed the belated comedic sequel Snakes on a Plane....But that's another story.
Hot humid Bangkok night.
What better to do than watch the comedy above the Royal Oak Pub. Friday night? A place where Western women go to get laid and Western men go to express their art and....
....Talking about high art I had met a writer friend earlier that evening and was four or five bottles of Tiger Sweat worse for wear owing to the generosity of an expense account and a non-existent client called Malcolm. Not at the heckling point of being pissed, but perhaps having the potential to arrive at Heckleville before the night was done, hopefully, I made it to the venue.
I arrived late with a plan to sneak up the stairs without paying. Not to be! A character grabbed my cuff and I paid the tenner entrance fee accordingly....Don't these guys realize I'm writing this up, I thought before common sense dictated, Why should they?
Inside comic and promoter Chris Wegoda warmed up the crowd with an anti-Christian routine. Chris is an entertainer, a talent who has grown immeasurably over the past few years, and tomorrow flies to London to try out his act on the comedy circuit. But that Friday night things were looking up, or down, depending on your faith. I'm sure Jesus would have forgiven him by now. It was after all, Easter Friday. The largely Christian crowd chuckled uneasily, The thing I like about Wegoda is that he always tries out new material rather than being reliant on the same patter. Where are the jokes about ladyboys? I heard them thinking. Coming, I thought.
But they weren't. Indonesian ex-international-school-boy-comic Delfin Solomon joked about Chinese tourist's penchant for stealing life jackets from commercial airliners. He pictured the scene as the soon to be victims of an emergency sea landing reached for their non-existent life-saving devices. Oblivious or perhaps spurred by the sensitivity to the recent air disasters the act continued. Hell, what are the chances of a successful sea landing anyway?
On firmer ground stood Graham Wooding whose routine on the uselessness of the Thai broom met a warm reception. An observational sketch that begins with the comic getting through four or five brushes a day sweeping the floor (it's one of those you have to be there things, Thai brushes are made of this wicker fabric that simply falls off as you brush) ends up with the hapless comedian haunting the darkside of Bangkok streets hooking up with Nigerian brush dealers to find some relief for his fifty-brush-a-day-habit. Funnier than it sounds Graham also had a routine about the Chinese (Chinese again, why of why, the Chinese?) and their mega production of vehicles hoping one day that a car be named FUK YU. We can all imagine the scope for this observation on a hazy Bangkok night..
The headliner stormed onto the stage. Australian Ro Campbell lives in Scotland. How much harder can you get? The athleticism to kick arse and the alcoholic mindset to do so. He began on a high, shouting his routine into the mic, fueled by Red-Bull's bad brother from a different mother - M150 - which he kept in his pocket at all times. Or at least appeared to.
An interval, a bottle of Tiger Sweat, and it continued. Ro had recently toured the maximum security prison circuit, convicts laughed, a captive audience the comic explained. And went further: "I had a feeling these boys weren't inside for singing too loudly in church, you know what I'm saying?" The Johnny Cash of comedy commented. We did. And if we didn't we weren't bloody saying so.
Campbell went on to meditate on his times touring the mining towns of Australia. This dude was no stranger to a tough gig. Bangkok was a cake-walk. He was a funny fucker too.
|Ro Campbell. Don't mess.|
All ended well, and it could of turned out badly for myself when my mobile phone rang half the way through the second half. "You be wanting me to take that for you?" Campbell aggressively enquired.
Naturally, I didn't.
You can buy advance tickets for the Comedy Club Bangkok HERE.