Posts tagged as comedy tourism

Going Viral in Beijing and Other Adventures of an Aspiring American Comedian in China

You’re about to graduate from college. You don’t know what you want to “do with your life,” but you know you want to “do” comedy. So what do you do? Most folks in their early 20’s would probably hop the nearest train to New York, Chicago, or LA, enroll in UCB or Second City, and hope for the best. Unless you’re Brandeis University senior Jesse Appell. Because if you’re Jesse Appell, you apply for a Fulbright scholarship to study the ancient art of xiangsheng in its birthplace of Beijing, China. Once there, you make a modestly viral parody of Gangnam Style in fluent Mandarin that garners you the [...]

JayHind! A Barrel of Lakhs for India

In India, the expression “Jai Hind” usually functions as a patriotic salutation to the homeland. Like L’Chaim, but instead of “to life,” it’s “to India!” When the host of the world’s oldest full-format TV show on the Internet utters the phrase, he is both referring to the title of the show and firmly planting his tongue in his cheek. When it premiered online in 2009, “JayHind!” became India’s first late night stand-up comedy show on the Internet, in addition to being the first in general to create a 20+ minute program for Interweb eyes only. The show’s creators describe their show as “uniquely scripted, uncensored, and has an unabashed humorous [...]

The Ex-Pat Revolutionaries of Estonia

An American, Australian and an Estonian walk into a bar…

This may sound like the lead-in to a joke about general stereotypes, but it is actually how one might describe Comedy Estonia if one wanted to slightly mislead the reader into thinking one was about to tell a joke about general stereotypes. If we’re splitting hairs here, my clever little lead should have included a total of two Americans entering said bar — but I thought that might muddle the joke. Still with me?

The key players in this set up are Australian Louis Zezeran, Americans Eric Seufert and Stewart Johnson, and Estonian Andrei Tuch. The implicated bar is [...]

11 Comedy Tourist Destinations of 2011

It’s been almost a year since I first invited the readers of Splitsider to join me in asking “what is the deal with international comedy?” Thusly, we embarked, you the reader and I, on a cross-cultural odyssey into the literal world of humor. We found trends. We found traditions. We found ourselves, if you think about it (don’t). Because I wanted to do a 2011 retrospective but can hardly choose a favorite child, I opted to select a rather subjective cross-section of countries. Think of it as a world comedy mood board, rather than a countdown.

While the year might be drawing to a close, the tour is only [...]

Bhutan, a Big Wooden Phallus, and the Secret to Happiness

Picture, if you will, a wooden phallus resting atop your head. Imagine using this phallus for a traditional house-blessing ceremony. Then return your mind back to its position on your crown and meditate on its function. If it has lightened your mood, then it has served its purpose. I forgot to mention you are currently at a Tsechu festival in Bhutan, and the person holding the phallus is wearing a large, blood-red mask that features a permanent grin and an exaggerated nose. Fear not, though, for you are in the company of an atsara, one of the most revered folk figures in Bhutanese culture. Also, a clown.

Seated to [...]

The Least Alienating Political Comedian, Unless You're the Current Italian Government

Parma, Italy: the birthplace of Parmesan cheese and the modern Italian’s “Stalingrad.” For those of you non-history buffs, Stalingrad was a bloody, drawn-out battle in which the Soviets ultimately staved off the Nazi army leading to a turning point in World War II. To those of you actual history buffs, I apologize for my utterly reductive explanation of this historic battle. This name was more recently evoked by one of Italy’s most famous comedians, Beppe Grillo, in reference to a rather landmark mayoral elections in Parma, Italy. While the European economy may be headed for — pardon my French — the shitter, many citizens in the EU are rather [...]

Live From Seoul, It's Saturday Niiiiiiight!

On December 3, 2011, South Korea got its first taste of this famous sentence. With its affinity for broad physical comedy and variety shows, Korean television either seems like the perfect home for an SNL adaptation or an already saturated marketplace. Sketch variety shows like Gag Concert have long captured the hearts and laughs of Korean audiences, and the American version of SNL was relatively unknown in South Korea. Nonetheless, the cable network tvN licensed the franchise last year and commissioned eight episodes in collaboration with popular writer/director Jang Jin.

Bloggers speculated the show’s success would hinge on its ability to confront political topics head-on. If you are not [...]

The Cuban Comedy (Non-)Crisis

Why are there no swimming pools in Cuba?

Because everyone who knows how to swim has already left the island.

This barb entitled “Swim Practice” was one of many inside-jokes in Cuba smuggled from behind closed doors 90-odd miles to the north. But let me get to the horse before showing the cart’s entire contents.

Despite its spitting distance of the Florida coast, the Republic of Cuba has long ceased to pose the threat it once did to American lives. For most of us young folk, the Bay of Pigs is a date and name we had to memorize for AP US History. Gael Garcia Bernal and Benicio [...]

Klovn Your Enthusiasm: The Many Layers of Discomfort in Danish Humor

There certainly is something rotten in the state of Denmark: the dark and twisted Danish sense of humor. So-called “Danish Humor” gained international attention at Cannes this year when provocateur/film director Lars von Trier declared that he was a Nazi to a room full of journalists. Whether or not this comment was taken out of context, Cannes organizers were not amused and declared him a persona no grata to the same festival that has honored him many times. Von Trier would later apologize for his comments, citing the untranslatable nature of Danish humor as the culprit for misinterpretation. He told Israeli publication Haaretz:

“It was a stupid joke. But [...]

Humor: Greek for Humor

Before all my Latin scholars get up in arms, yes, technically “humor” originated from the dead language as a word for “body fluid” or “fluid or juice from a wet plant.” But it’s the contextualization of the word humor that belongs to the Greeks. It was the Greeks who applied “humoral medicine” to treat the balance of these bodily fluids they believed controlled a person’s temperament. And it is from the Greek words komoidia, komoidios and komos that we eventually got the English word “comedy.” Granted, Latin had the word “comoedia,” but again, contextualization belongs to the Ancient Greeks. Before I start sounding like the patriarch of My Big [...]

(Some of) The Muslims Behind 'The Muslims Are Coming!'

Did I say Muslims? I meant comedians. Comedians who also happen to be Muslim. They also have a Kickstarter campaign for a feature documentary film they’re making called The Muslims Are Coming. Though they plan on coming to a movie theater near you sometime this year, hopefully before the election, they have already taken their comedy to some interesting places. As part of the filming process, the directors Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah, along with fellow comedians of “threatening” descent, took a comedy tour by the same name on the road, hitting up all the hot spots along the southern Bible-Belt, and into such immigrant-friendly states as Arizona.


Talking to You Laugh But It's True Director David Paul Meyer

Last year, Comedy Tourism checked in with the red-hot stand-up comedy scene of South Africa. Three years earlier in 2008, then-film student David Paul Meyer traveled to South Africa in search of a thesis topic and found a subject who would turn his school project into a full feature documentary. Meyer’s film You Laugh But It’s True, formerly titled Township to the Stage, profiles the early rise of South African comedian Trevor Noah, as he prepares for his first ever one-man show “The Daywalker.”

Meyer completed post-production on the film last year and just recently secured an international distribution deal with First Hand Films. In [...]

That Wacky Foreigner Said WHAT? The Comedy of Culture Clash

Sponsored posts are purely editorial content that we are pleased to have presented by a participating sponsor — in this case, Jarritos!

When cultures collide, hilarity often ensues. So too, often, do one-dimensional stereotypes. Speaking of often, it is with a similar frequency that I use this Comedy Tourism series to explore intercultural communication through humor — to try and understand laughter from the angle of others. But it’s also a popular choice in comedy to turn that which makes us different into the joke itself.

This culture clash trope is a pretty old entry in the joke book, but not necessarily antiquated. Most people know what it [...]

Those Clowns Down in Peru

Americans may be familiar with Peru as home to the breathtaking Machu Picchu, or perhaps as a bordering nation to Lake Titicaca. But, the Republic of Peru is also home to 29.4 million people (UN, 2010), rich natural resources like copper, silver, lead, zinc, oil and gold (BBC 2011) and a small but fruitful world of comedy in its capital city of Lima.

A friend connected me with an aspiring comedian in Lima named Charly Cervera. To start, he described to me the current comedic climate in Peru.

Comedy in Peru is a small world; it’s only really practiced in the capital as stage comedy…In the provinces, comedy [...]