Comedy comes to Cambodia

Peter Olszewski / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
JoJo Smith is back in town. Supplied

Did you hear the one about the bloke from Australia who finished law at uni and 24 hours later was in Shanghai to become a financier but instead became a comedian, opened his own club, and laughed to tell about it?

That’s the story behind China-based Aussie comedian Andy Curtain, who’ll be performing in Phnom Penh, Kampot and Siem Reap during the Pchum Ben break.

Joining him on the tour is funny Pommy sheila, former bingo caller and former journalist JoJo Smith who says, “I don’t have anything to promote specifically or sell other than a chance for the audience to see the world through the eyes of a slightly bitter and twisted 56- year-old woman.”

Andy Curtain who landed in China in 2009 looking for a job in the finance sector. Instead he began performing comedy in 2010 and five years later, in 2015, he opened Kung Fu Komedy, China’s only full-time comedy club. “I started producing shows [in China] when I started performing, because there were no shows,” he says. “I never wanted to run shows, but it was produce or nothing. Eventually I became a club owner and as required by the job, turned into a sleazy philanderer.”

Andy Curtain will provide laughs over Pchum Ben. Supplied

The club is also a hub for expat performers who do two-month gigs, and a staging post for comedy tours which visit up to 14 cities in China.

On top of that, over the last six years, Curtain has toured the US, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Myanmar, worked with comedians such as Eddie Izzard, Russell Howard and Ari Shaffir, hosts the Stuck In The Middle podcast and earlier this year took his show, Life in China, to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, where he sold out nine of the ten shows.

“I go and perform in Australia every year, and also do the Melbourne International Comedy Festival,” he says, “This year they stuffed me into the Chinese museum. I’ve never felt so profiled in my life. It was invigorating.”

About his Cambodia tour, Andy Curtain says, “I don’t have any Cambodian jokes, yet.” That’s because this will be his first visit to the Kingdom and he adds, “My show’s about me, my Russian wife, my mostly Russian son, and brain surgery.”

Co-performer on the tour, Jo Jo Smith, toured here in January last year and survived.

“I’d visited Cambodia a few years before I did any gigs there so I had a little knowledge but of course performing is a different experience to sight-seeing,” she says. “I fell in love with what I’d seen on my travels which is why I contacted the guys about coming back and doing shows.

“The first show was in Sihanoukville last time, in a completely unsuitable room… I wasn’t expecting a lot.

“It was a fantastic surprise therefore to have a really great gig. In Kampot last time,
I recall my description of the venue was rewarded with big belly laughs.”

Tour dates are: September 20 in Kampot at Ecran Cinema; Sept 22 in Phnom Penh at the Department for Performing Arts; Sept 23 in Siem Reap at The Harbour.

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