Taipei's comedy scene is going from strength to strength. What started out four years ago as a few foreigners doing amateurish sets at Citizen Kane's open-mic night has blossomed into a second career of sorts for several people, with seasoned expat performers doing semi-regular shows at places like The Living Room and Sappho. In May, the city's first comedy club opened in the Shida area, and it currently hosts Chinese-language comedy shows featuring several comedians six nights a week. While the Chinese-language performances there tend to resemble off-Broadway shows more than the typical American or British stand-up act, they are a sign that the genre has crossed into the mainstream and established firm local roots.
Tomorrow night the two scenes will converge when the Comedy Club hosts its first English-language show. Tucked inside a basement on Taishun Street (泰順街), the cozy venue offers great lines of sight, an elevated stage and is rigged with a projection screen and sound system that make it one of the best places to see live stand-up acts in Taipei. Tomorrow's show, which happens at 9pm and again at 11:30pm, will showcase veteran expat comedians Dan Machanik, Kurt Penny and Mark Goding; as well as five new performers: Chris Wang, Ren Yang-long (任陽龍), Vince Kao (高英軒), Adrian Maidment, Kao Ying-hsuan (王盈勇) and Matt Bronsil.
Machanik has prepared a new set, which he's calling China Lite - 1.4 Billion Served with a Guaranteed Happy Ending and promises that "this will be a very enlightening experience for everyone who has ever wondered what's really going on in China." Goding will do his usual Cliche Squad routine, and Ren Yang-long (任陽龍), a frequent guest at the club's Chinese-language shows, will talk about atheism, Catholic priests and pedophilia. The show will not be suitable for the easily offended, but otherwise seems likely to be one of the best English-language comedy nights of the year.
Kurt Penney, one of the event's organizers, has already done a Chinese-language set at the Comedy Club under the stage name San Ba Di (三八弟) and found the audience was easy to engage and eager to laugh. "This is going to be a receptive crowd," he said. "It's an emerging market."
Comedy Club co-owner Social, former director of the now-disbanded Taiwan Walker Theater (台灣渥克劇團), said the venue will add more chairs for tomorrow's shows. However, he recommends making reservations as there will only be 65 seats and tickets are likely to sell out fast.