HAVE YOU HEARD the one about the local crime-thriller Infernal Affairs or Canto-pop act Grasshopper? Neither have we, but Live Comedy Club Taipei, which is bringing in a troupe for its Hong Kong debut on June 28 and 29 at the Fringe Club, promises to let us in on the jokes, shedding light on how the Taiwanese perceive this city's pop culture - and its people.
"Through the Hong Kong-themed skits, including one that pokes fun at Infernal Affairs, you will see what Taiwanese think Hongkongers are like," says Social Chang Shuo-hsiu, who founded the Live Comedy Club Taipei in 2007.
"We'll tease the way [Hongkongers] speak Mandarin. Some jokes may seem a bit malicious, but hopefully people will understand and have a good laugh since it's a comedy show, after all."
The Taipei venue has been the launch pad for many comedians whose stand-up routines, impersonations and improvised gags have brought houses down across the island. But it is Standup Party, a six-member troupe, which has been the most popular.
Chang describes them as his "first baby". He trained them systematically before they started performing. Each of the six members has to do a solo stand-up routine, including that of Da Ke Ai (literally The Big Cute).
Chang, previously an actor and producer with theatre company Taiwan Walker, explains that Da Ke Ai is a large man with an equally large heart. The character tells self-deprecating jokes about the many inconveniences he faces as a "horizontally challenged" man, as well as the hurdles he has to overcome in pursuing a romantic relationship.
There will also be four skits in which the six join forces to mock everything under the sun that, Chang reassures, transcends all cultural boundaries. There will also be Taiwan-centric jokes too, he adds, but they are easy to understand and appreciate too (as Hong Kong people who have visited their comedy house in Taiwan will testify).
Chang thinks live comedy shows in Hong Kong and Taiwan are similar in that performers from both places are still learning to perfect this art form, which has its roots in the West. And the freedom of expression, which both places enjoy, is crucial to its success, says Chang.
"A good comedy show is about having a clear attitude," he says. "It's important to let the performer interact freely and express what they think freely. It's an honest self-expression - albeit sometimes prejudiced - and interaction with the audience. Only then can the audience feel the depth of the cultural meaning and relate to it."
Standup Party (in Mandarin), Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, June 28 and 29, 8pm, HK$120. Inquiries: 25217251