Why diverse Hong Kong international comedy festival is just what the doctor ordered
With 70 performers, workshops, open mics and a variety show, the Hong Kong International Laugh Festival is guaranteed to put a smile on your face
Laughter is the best medicine is a phrase that should not be, well, laughed at. Studies have shown a good old giggle decreases stress hormones, helps boost antibodies, and triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.
That’s why the Hong Kong International Laugh Festival that kicks off on September 8 is a good idea, with the second annual event dishing up three weeks of stand-up, improv, variety nights and open mics.
Festival organiser Vivek Mahbubani, who dabbles in comedy (he was crowned 2007 Chinese and 2008 English funniest comedian in Hong Kong) says the festival is further proof of the city’s growing reputation as a comedy hub.
“Hong Kong has a stand-up show almost every night of the week,” says Mahbubani. “And it’s a destination for international comedians travelling in Asia.”
That’s no joke.
Hong Kong has attracted its fair share of quality comics, from Americans Margaret Cho and Arj Barker to British stand-up and crowd favourite Jimmy Carr, who returns to the city on September 16 as part of his “greatest hits” world tour.
But more than that, Mahbubani says the festival is all about bringing some light relief to overworked Hongkongers.
“A major aim of the festival is to help develop the culture of comedy in the high-pressure city that is Hong Kong, by bringing together all kinds of comedians and shows, plus hosting public workshops and open mics,” says Mahbubani, who will perform at the festival that boasts 38 shows, two workshops and more than 70 performers.
Highlights include Uncensored Cabaret, a queer run inclusive variety show that features a mix of international and local talent including La Chiquitta (drag queen), Stuart Palm (mentalist) and Garron Chiu (Comedy Central). There will be shows in English, Cantonese and Tagalog.
Broad Appeal, featuring Hong Kong’s favourite female comedians is also a must-see as is the Guangzhou Cantonese Comedy.
“We’ve got a diverse variety of comedy … it’s just like a laugh buffet. Come on Hong Kong it’s time to laugh.”