Hong Kong’s accidental comedian Tyson Chak talks humour and his serious side

Actor stumbled into comedy while a student and hasn’t looked back since. He tells us about the challenges of his upcoming one-man show and why he hopes to be seen as a serious thespian too

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 December, 2015, 6:15am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 December, 2015, 6:15am

Hong Kong comedian Tyson Chak Hoi-tai is best known for his chameleon roles in Microsex Office, a series of stage shows that later became a movie. These days he is making a name for himself after separating from mentor and PIP Theatre founder Jim Chim Sui-man. Ahead of his holiday appearances at the Udderbelly Festival on the Central harbourfront, Chak talks to Vanessa Yung about his latest projects and his role model.

WATCH: Tyson Chak in Microsex Office

Tell us more about your show Tyson’s Christmas Fantasia at the Udderbelly Festival?

It is a one-man parody. I’ll be switching between multiple characters talking about their love encounters during Christmas. It is the same man essentially, but one who has been through a lot of changes during different stages of his life. It’s more drama and role play than a stand-up comedy show. It’s been a while since I’ve done a one-man show – the last one was Good Luck Man three years ago at the Hong Kong Arts Centre.

Isn’t a one-man show one of the most challenging to do?

It is. I’ve to come up with all the stories, so I’m grateful to colleagues and friends who have fed me fun stories of their own. One of the challenges is to make each role distinct and convincing, and my trick is to single out the unique traits of each character to expand on. The costume changes help too.

Where do you think your humour comes from?

I have always seen myself as a very serious person. I never thought I could be a comedian. Throughout my time at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts as a student, I took on serious roles until, in my final year, I did a period comedy. Everybody loved it. Even I was impressed. Since then, I’ve gone all out to hone my sense of humour. It’s all about being able to make fun of yourself and throw out all your ego. Eventually, I can see the funny side of everything, from the way I look to the way you walk.

Aren’t you worried that starting off your career as a comedian will limit what you can do in the future?

That is indeed a problem I face. Even when I am striking a serious face or not trying to be funny, some people will always laugh. Sometimes I thought “is it because of my face?” Hopefully, there’ll be more and more opportunities coming up where I can show them the other sides of me. I’ve done some projects with TVB which don’t require me to be comedic and I hope that can change their minds.

Who is your idol?

I love [Nick] Cheung Ka-fai. He is such a versatile actor and he transits effortlessly between different roles. When he first started out as an actor, he was so hilarious even in cameo roles in [director Wong Jing’s] movies. He simply gives it all as an actor. And slowly with [Johnnie] To Kei-fung’s [hero] flicks, he has built up a very daring image. He has shown great potential in nailing each role he is given.

Tyson’s Christmas Fantasia (in Cantonese), December 23-24, 27, 9pm, December 25-26, 8.30pm, Udderbelly Festival, Central Harbourfront Event Space, Central, HK$400, HK$488 HK Ticketing