What do you get when you dump a bunch of expats from all over the world in the middle of Beijing? A thriving comedy scene that’s what. Stand-up comedy is alive and booming in China, so buckle up for a ride through the dynamics of navigating the Beijing comedy circuit told from the eyes of one of the scene’s newest pioneers, Lauren David, founder of WeiLaugh Comedy Club.
‘Listening to Mike Ward is like watching a tidal wave of sewage demolish a day care center. But it’s a cartoon, so you get to laugh.’ …Tavey Lean, Owner of 4Corners, Lead Singer of Solid Gold
In December, WeiLaugh Comedy Club had the pleasure of hosting Canadian comedy legend Mike Ward for two shows in Beijing. For those of you snoozing under a maple tree, Mike Ward made history as the first comic to ever be fined over $42,000 by a court for telling a joke. Despite the financial setbacks of this absurd ruling, it paved the way for Ward’s exposure to new markets, one of which happened to be China.
HOW DID MIKE WARD GET TO CHINA?
It all started from a tweet. That’s right! How did Mike Ward end up coming to China? As a direct result of a tweet sent by JJ Wakrat of Shanghai Comedy Club. JJ challenged Mike to come tour China, tweeting he is guaranteed more free speech here than in Canada. The tweet was sent in February and by December Mike was geared up for a 5 city China tour kicking off in Wuhan and ending in Shanghai, where he sold out 4 show dates, 3 English and one French.
The first time we met Mike, we were so impressed at how much of a trooper this guy was. He had a visa debacle which forced him to fly all the way back to Canada from Europe, step off a 26 hour flight to go directly to the venue in Wuhan for his first show, which involved a nightmare heckler, and afterwards he got thrown out of his hotel for being a foreigner. The next night, we received him in Beijing at the local Number 8 Peking Duck restaurant (stop with the fancy names China) and he was in the best spirits where you wouldn’t have guessed any of that happened the 72 hours prior.
Mike Ward is a vegetarian in China eating Peking Duck with his opening comedians from WeiLaugh Comedy Club. Mike tells us how he writes comedy drinking red wine in the bathtub and it takes him over one year to build a one hour set. After presenting him with a pollution mask, we venture to the cozy Hutong venue that is 4 Corners.
We plastered Mike Ward’s muzzled mug all over the city and sold out his first show on Sunday night in Beijing. The energy for this show was incredible and the crowd went crazy when Chinese comedy legend Joe Wong did an opening set.
We sat down with Mike after the show and asked how the lawsuit has affected his comedy. He claims the lawsuit hasn’t changed his comedy on stage, but it has altered his comedy on social media. Instead of posting jokes on Twitter and Facebook, he now uses those platforms just to plug his tour dates. Additionally, he decided not to do any more French specials, claiming to have one hour of unreleased footage his wife will posthumously release, so she can live happily ever after with her hot new boy toy upon his untimely demise. When asked if withholding the release of his new one hour French special would financially hurt him, he simply explained that ‘getting sued hurt more.’
One thing we noticed about Mike was that he is a real comic’s comic and he loved meeting all the local comedians in China. He expressed sentiments that the best moment of his life and career was after winning Canadian comedian of the year, when all the comics went on stage with a Red X covering their mouth. He said he busted into tears crying because he received so much support from comedians worldwide. These were very touching remarks from Mr. Ward who touched a heckler in a different way at his first show in China.
You didn’t think we were gonna forget the Wuhan Boo-han heckler did you? This laowai (foreigner in Chinese) was a youth minister who brought all his friends and went crazy during the middle of Mike’s set screaming ‘You’re not nice! You’re not nice!’
And to that Mike responded:
‘Note to self: If you go see a comedian that got sued by his government, don’t bring your Christian friends!’
PERSONAL FAVORITE MOMENT
A personal favorite moment of Mike Ward’s show was the second night in Beijing at Fella’s Bar, when Mike absolutely demolished the sound guy, who happened to be Fella, the owner of the venue who is missing a few fingers from one of his hands. The sound kept reverbing and in the middle of his set, Mike looks over at Fella and brilliantly says: ‘Can we get someone with two fucking hands to come do the sound please? It was a moment of perfectly blended comic gold with a dash of a little dying inside- and only Mike Ward could have pulled that off with such eloquence. Nevertheless, it was all in good spirits and we even made Fella’s hand the trademark of a new gang sign, the CripComics. Luckily, Fella is a laid back good-sport with a lot of chill and was proud to offer his cute little paw for Mike to shake after the show.
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Our upcoming shows in Beijing involve Tony Woods, Paul Ogata, Wil Sylvince, Justin Rivera and Jackie Fabulous.