Dave Barry, while otherwise a questionable influence on the genre, once rendered what I would argue is as fine a description of comedy as you’re liable to find: “A sense of humor,” he wrote, “is a measurement of the extent to which we realize that we are trapped in a world almost totally devoid of reason.”
The recent proliferation of English-language comedy nights in Bangkok, a city where reason takes frequent flight, makes somewhat more sense in this context.
Chris Wegoda, organizer of the Londoner’s open mic night and a key figure in Bangkok’s incestuous comedy scene, dates Bangkok’s current comedy crop to roughly 2011. Since then, a collection of open mic nights, touring shows and loosely formed comedy collectives have allowed Bangkokians a steady diet of live laughs.
Like a capricious dictator, the Alchemist Bar chooses to dispense jollity and punishment at random, thereby keeping its patrons forever on their toes. As such, we can’t say for sure when the Bar’s next Comedy Open Mic night will occur, only that it certainly will occur, perhaps at the time when you least expect it. In the meantime, bar reps point out that interested diners can find live music at Alchemist every Wednesday, as well as on the second and fourth Sundays of the month.
Founded in May 2011, this open mic has served for the past couple years as the center of Bangkok’s comedy universe. While on-stage real estate was cheap when Wegoda christened the event, it has since gained popularity, so he suggests that you sign up for open mic slots beforehand. Those interested in checking out the event are invited to stop by the Londoner on the first and third Mondays of the month, at 8pm.
Since its 1994 inception in Hong Kong, the Punchline Comedy Club has spent two decades bringing “name” comedians to Asia, as well as cities in Australia and throughout the region. Punchline has typically taken the Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel as its Bangkok staging ground, with ticket prices hovering in the range of THB1,500. According to Punchline’s Facebook page, the group has no new events scheduled at the moment. Check back, however, as this comedy troupe has proven both high in quality and unusually resilient.
The three comedians (“two decent and one crap”) that stage Bangkok 555 work especially hard to make sure that their audience gets its money worth. With proceeds from the event going to benefit charity, it’s easier for you, as an observer to pony up that money in the first place. The group’s latest event took place at Glowfish (a sigh “co-working space”) and featured live music, as well as food from nearby Kuppadeli. Bangkok 555’s recent charity event was a one-off, but the group is going to try and do more regular events.
Bangkok Hilarious, whose membership closely mimics that of Bangkok 555, has taken to staging events at a rate of one every six weeks. Though the comedy night has yet to secure a consistent venue, Apoteka has served this purpose adequately in the past, and may yet do so in the future. The collective’s next event will take place August 1, at Le Petit Zinc. Check out the group’s Facebook page for details and rumors of upcoming iterations.
In our search for acceptable standup comedy we sometimes have to cast a wide net. Sometimes, we draw in that net to find that it has snagged the Faulty Towers Dining Experience – a UK-based traveling show whose title goes a good ways toward describing its content. A late-October (the 24th through the 29th) stopover in Bangkok allows rabid fans of the original sitcom to relive their favorite moments, complete with gourmet accompaniment. With tickets starting at THB3,700, tourists appear to be this show’s target audience, but that in no way means native Bangkokians can’t partake in the fun.