Expat comics to descend on Korea for stand-up contest

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Aug 19, 2015 - 18:44
  • Updated : Aug 20, 2015 - 14:48

Expat comedians based across Asia will battle it out in the Korea International Comedy Competition next weekend.

A follow-up of last summer’s Seoul International Comedy Competition, this year’s event will feature 13 performers based across Asia, including Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and Vietnam.

In line with the name change, the contest has also moved location ― from Seoul to O’ Lounge in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, Korea’s first expat comedy club.

“My original plan was to always hold it in Seoul but since this new comedy club opened up I felt it had to be there this year,” said Dan Wiberg, a local comic who runs the festival. “It’s a great room and great crowd. I haven’t met a comic who hasn’t loved it there.”

El Wassim performs one of his winning sets at last year`s Seoul International Comedy Competition. (Chris Gilmore)

The competition has also expanded to two days, to make the schedule less hectic.

“The finalists last year performed three times in the same night, in front of the same crowd. That’s not something comics normally do,” said Wiberg.

This year all contestants will perform on the opening night, with the top five going on to perform the next day in two elimination rounds.

Wiberg points out that this will allow the comedians to perform longer sets, even though there are slightly more contestants than last year, when locally based stand-up El Wassim emerged victorious from a lineup of 10 comedians.

The contest will be decided by audience votes and a panel of judges, with the winner, receiving a cash prize and the chance to feature for a touring professional comic.

Among the judges will be Wiberg, who will be taking a back seat from hosting this year.

He said that he hosted the first event to allow him to ensure things ran smoothly, but while he felt he succeeded in this, he was too preoccupied with ensuring fairness, and could have done a better job introducing the stand-ups.

“One of the judging criteria for the comics was audience interaction so my idea as host was to introduce everyone as equally as possible so no comic would get an advantage based on a joke I said or something like that,” he said.

“I think I was so worried about that that I didn’t do a great job of setting the tone for the comics by getting the audience to quieten down throughout the show for the comics.”

Wiberg is confident that this year’s host, Paul Smith will ensure the comics get the best chance to shine.

“We have comics from all over the world coming to Korea to make people laugh and those who come to the shows on Friday and Saturday ― Aug. 28 and 29 ― are going to be very happy they did.”

The shows start at 9 p.m., but people are advised to arrive early to ensure seats and get an audience ballot paper. Tickets are 5,000 won for both nights. See the event’s Facebook page for more details and updates.

By Paul Kerry (