I love standup comedy. I grew up watching George Carlin and Stephen Wright, Jerry Seinfeld, Drew Carey, Jim Carrey, Dana Carvey, Alan Carr, Jimmy Carr, Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle, Pablo Francisco, Frank Caliendo, Jeff Ross, Louis CK, Tig Notaro and lots of other names. If by chance you’ve never heard of any of these people I would venture you’re from Hong Kong as Hong Kong by and large sucks at standup comedy. I’m not saying that the standup comedy in Hong Kong is bad; I’m saying that residents of Hong Kong—both locals and expats—suck at standup comedy. My theory on this is simple: standup comedy is a predominantly American/Western European humor form and expats in Hong Kong have traditionally been bankers, lawyers, consultants, and civil servants—none of whom are known much for their humor. Unless you count the government destroying cultural landmarks to build more skyscrapers because that shit’s hilarious. From my (unresearched) understanding, standup comedy in Hong Kong showed up for realz with Jamie Gong’s Takeout Comedy Club and other comedy nights popping up at Champs, Sevva, and the Hong Kong Brew House. From this list you might say the Hong Kong comedy scene is thriving but it’s not—it’s been slowly building itself up for years trying to capture that ephemeral international comedy zeitgeist. That’s hard, yo, since what’s funny to local Hong Kong peeps may not be funny to English peeps, and what’s funny to Australians is not funny to Americans since we have no idea WTF a Rugby Try is. To succeed one must find an observational non-topical commonality that appeals to both the international and western-oriented local communities here. That’s rough going, kind of like when the big man in little shorts does a try by kicking a field goal through the uprights before fourth down. I told you I don’t get rugby. So I thought, OK, let’s try this. I popped down to the Take Out Comedy Club open mic Tuesdays at 8 pm (hey Jami, look a shout-out!) ready to try out my jokes. It’s a different scene here than in the UK and the States primarily because Hong Kong open mic nights are the most supportive comedy nights you’ve ever seen. In New York, if you suck, you’re mercilessly torn apart, but here the room is full of mostly peers who want you to succeed or at least will laugh at your jokes so you’ll laugh at theirs. I don’t know whether this hand-holding comedy style brings out the best humor or if the standard trial-by-fire is the way to go. But I have noted people getting funnier each time I see them so I give some credit to the technique. My performance was, in a word, weird. Everyone’s terrified of public speaking and public speaking while making people laugh’s about as fun as scoring a Rugby Try (take that as you will). I’m a pretty calm guy so I wasn’t too worried but as soon as I stepped on stage I felt my knees shake and hands start jittering. Now, that could just be the Parkinsons* but it was most probably nerves. I waited for them to settle and they didn’t so I thought F this, and launched into lots of jokes about how I’m an incompetent expat, which is unequivocally true. Looking at the audience, I saw some people laugh and maybe a few people smile and I felt much, much better about myself. And that’s what standup comedians describe their experience as—a catharsis from the vagaries of the day to day. I rather enjoyed it, so much so that I’ll be trying my hand again on Saturday, 8 December at the Takeout Comedy Club. Come by, if you like. And make sure to laugh louder and harder than anyone else at the silly half-Asian guy shaking in his boots and praying to God that he hasn’t forgotten a punchline. * Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week. Yalun Tu is a columnist for HK Magazine. You can reach him at email@example.com or @yaluntu on Twitter.