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Merchants of Laughter – Asia’s Top Comedians
Laughing is serious business. Seasoned comedians would testify to the amount of blood, sweat and rotten tomatoes they have experienced before making it big. The top 10 comedians in Asia are no different. From up-and-rising comedians to ‘godfather’ of comedy in their respective countries, these comedians have been in the business of making people laugh for years. Some have made it big in the West while some are the nation’s pride. In this issue, Top 10 of Asia takes a brief look at the top 10 comedians in Asia (presented in no particular order) and their achievements.
Fakkah Fuzz (Singapore)
Only three years on stage and Fakkah Fuzz is fast becoming one of the most promising next generation of Singapore’s comedians. Labelled ‘A Crowd Favourite’ by Channel News Asia, Fuzz charms crowds with his bottomless energy and ‘in-your-face’ style of comedy. More than that, Fuzz has gone international with multiple performances, such as Hong Kong’s Take Out Comedy, Cambodia’s The Comedy Club and Malaysia’s Comedy Kao Kao. A true son of Singapore, Fuzz has spearheaded local stand-up comedy show ‘Sons of Singapore’ together with fellow comedians Jinx Yeo and Rishi Budhrani, aiming to entertain Singapore with their brand of humour!
Umar Rana (Singapore)
Critically-acclaimed for his “no-holds-barred jokes”, Pakistani Umar Rana began his career in 2001 and also founded Black Fish, Pakistan’s first English Speaking Improvisational Comedy Troupe. In 2004, Black Fish was selected to represent Pakistan in a theatre festival in England. Umar moved to Singapore in 2007 and has not looked back since, admitting that he genuinely stands up for Singapore. He founded Comedy Masala Singapore, and proved that the funniest comics at Comedy Masala are all Singaporeans. Comedy Masala has also featured numerous acclaimed international comedians. In 2010, he hosted ‘An Evening with Rob Schneider’ for the Emmy-nominated actor.
Vivek Mahbubani (Hong Kong)
Hong Kong’s homegrown comedian Vivek Mahbubani is a star in his own right. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Vivek feels like a local in every way in spite of his ethnicity. Fluent in both Cantonese and English, Vivek was crowned the Funniest Person (in Chinese) in Hong Kong in 2007 followed by a win in the English category in 2008. There is no doubt that Vivek is one of the funniest stand-up comedian in multicultural Hong Kong. Since then, Vivek has performed all over Asia including Singapore, Macau, Malaysia and India alongside other critically-acclaimed comedians.
Harith Iskandar (Malaysia)
Hailed as the ‘godfather’ of Malaysian stand-up comedy, Harith Iskandar needs no introduction. With over 21 years of experience, premier comedian Harith has performed at hundreds of shows and entertained thousands of thousands. An award-winning director, writer and actor, his repertoire include stand-up comedies, musical theatres, films and television shows. Some of his noteworthy shows include Lagu Selina, Jangan Ketawa, Anna and the King, Hanya Kawan, But That’s Another Story, Sepet, Gubra, Frogway, Cuci the Musical, Actorlympics, Kings and Queens of Comedy Asia, Lawak Ke, Der 2 and many other shows that blew his audience away.
Papa CJ (India)
Boarding school in the Himalayas, University of Oxford and a career in London – it’s not every day that you get these words put together in a comedian. But that’s exactly the roots of India’s leading stand-up comedian Papa CJ. Renowned as the pride of India, Papa CJ has gone global on channels such as Paramount, BBC, MTV and more. Toastmaster International calls him one of the most influential comedians around the world. A man with the poor at heart, he gives back to society through his charity, ‘One Child’ that supports underprivileged children in India.
Kazumi Kusano (Japan)
Only T-shirt, jeans and her schoolgirl hairstyle – and Japanese comedian Kazumi Kusano is good to go. Known as the ‘funny girl from Japan’, Kazumi is based in Los Angeles and produces her own variety comedy show, Karate Chop Teriyaki Comedy. As a child, Kazumi drew her inspiration from Japanese comedians ‘The Drifters’ that soon motivated her to become a comedian herself. Before she moved to San Francisco, Kazumi was a member of Theater Sports Japan. In 2010 and 2011, she was the undefeated champion of Joke-E-Oke, the joke karaoke contest at the San Francisco Sketch Festival.
Douglas Lim (Malaysia)
Comedy is serious business – that’s what Malaysian comedian Douglas Lim will tell you and will always tell you. Admitting that comedy is a lot of practice and hard work despite how effortless it seems, Douglas has come a long way from his early days in local sitcom, Kopitiam. After his studies in Canterbury, Douglas returned home to his first experience in stand-up comedy. Today, Douglas is one of the most sought-after comedians in the country appearing in theatre, television, film, music and corporate events. He had previously won the Malaysia Video Awards for Best Original Score and was once nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy at the Asian TV Awards.
Raditya Dika (Indonesia)
Author of six books, co-author of two comics, screenplay writer of motion pictures, co-founder of a publishing house and co-owner of a durian pancake brand – now that’s a mouthful for 28-year-old Indonesian comedian Raditya Dika. Raditya-craze went national when he released his first comic, Kambing Jantan in 2005. With hilarious titles such as Manusia Setengah Salmon and Cinta Brontosaurus, it’s not difficult to imagine how Raditya garnered such an enormous fan base. One of the pioneers in Indonesian stand-up comedy, Raditya produces his own comedy series Malam Minggu Miko with over 18 million views on Youtube.
Tim Tayag (Philippines)
A pioneer of point-of-view stand-up comedy in the Philippines, Tim Tayag is a highly sought-after comedian, writer and TV host. He travels the world to share his brand of comedy from his own travel adventures and experiences living in the US. Known for his light-hearted and fun-loving character in person, Tim hosts On Foot, a travel show that airs on the Living Asia Channel. Noteworthy shows and performance venues include the 2006 Asian Games as the official comedian, Punch Line San Francisco and Sacramento, UC Davis, Comedy Stop in Houston, Music Museum in the Philippines and more.
Rishi Budhrani (Singapore)
One sure-fire joke of Singaporean comedian Rishi Budhrani is his resemblance to Borat and comedian Jay Leno. Rishi is one-third of the Sons of Singapore show with Fakkah Fuzz and Jinx Yeo. Only over two years in the comedy scene and Rishi is already a steady open mic performer for Comedy Masala. The Sunday Times comments that he ‘excels at mocking racial stereotypes’. Globally, Rishi was one of the opening acts for internationally-acclaimed comedian Butch Bradely’s (USA) show in Singapore. Other credits include Take Out Comedy (HK), Wild Rice Theatre Festival, Karma Komedians and Laugh Off Asia where he represented Singapore.