A valuable lesson I learned while running international gigs across India and in Singapore was that, you could never really make good money unless you owned the content you were producing.
Plus, if you’re flying in comedians from overseas, you are paying for their airfares and hotels, which eat into your margins.
Better to use local talent and your own material to minimize costs.
I never forgot these lessons and decided that one day I would create my own show where I own the content and as I was incapable of performing myself (because I have a terrible memory) that I would employ a local actor or comedian to perform the show for me.
So, after a trip to see a comedy show in Paris called “How To Be Parisian in 60 Minutes”,
I thought, “Hmmm, Singapore is the 5th most visited city for international visitors in the world”, so I decided to write my own version for the Singapore tourist market.
The first attempt was to, put it politely, a disaster.
I employed a very talented comedian friend to write the script for me.
Unfortunately, he had little experience of Singapore and had only visited it once as a performer working for my shows.
Needless to say, the resulting script was not good enough, so I paid him, threw away the script and realized I had to write my own version.
Unfortunately, even though I knew a lot about Singapore, I’ve never written stand-up comedy before.
It’s a very different beast to sketch comedy. Something I had tried my hand at earlier. I’d drafted some character and episode outlines for a show in India called “Slumdog Taxi Tours” – a sketch show similar to BBC’s “Little Britain” where two Indian taxi drivers take tourists around Bombay and meet various lunatics but never had time to make a pilot.
So I sat down to write a funny stand up show about Singapore and it’s history.
The only slight problem was I didn’t know how to write jokes.
I made the stupid decision of borrowing jokes from other comedians to pad out my script, as is often the case in these situations, I started with one joke and then found myself using more. Like a druggie who thinks “Well once cant hurt me!”
Of course, this upset the comedians who wrote the jokes and they made their feelings known. So I apologized, tore up the script and rewrote it properly from scratch.
BTW there’s a reason why comedians get upset about peoples’ stealing their material…Jokes are bloody difficult to write as I soon found out when I began writing Script #3 with my writing partner Gary Ow.
However, we were determine to crack the code so we started reverse engineering jokes we liked and analyzing why people laughed when they heard them…after a couple of weeks of intense study we began writing and after a month ended up with a very funny 70 min script called “Singapore Stripped, A Comedy Roast of the Lion City”.
It was packed with zinging one liners, naughty facts about Singapore and parody songs (turns out we had a knack for writing funny songs – the audience loved them)
The show run for over a year at a venue in Clark Quay. The venue was always packed with crowds of enthusiastic locals and tourists. Many nights we had standing ovations and people would come up to us after the show and say “I can’t believe you got away with saying these things about Singapore!”
We used a robotic comedy puppet we called “Crispy, the Talking Cock”, to act as a comedy foil to the serious host who was trying to deliver a straight version of Singapore’s comedy history
Crispy would interrupt with comedy asides taking the piss out of Singapore.
Being a TV producer of 15+ years experience, I’m think visually, so the show was jam-packed, full of slides, videos, props and memes.
It was like a PowerPoint designed by a History Professor after a pint of LSD.
After a year of sold-out shows and rave reviews, we eventually lost our venue. It was sold from underneath our feet.
It was kind of funny actually. We walked in to do a show and we didn’t recognize the owner or the staff and it turned out the previous owner had sold it without telling us.
Luckily, the new owner was understanding and let us put on the show, but after that I was done.
I was done with the nonsense of having to deal with Singapore venue owners (this is a common theme when doing live comedy in SG) and decided just to end the show.
It was a great experience.
I learned a lot about writing stand-up comedy and have tremendous respect for people that do it for a living.
But it’s not for me. My strength lies in having a vision for a show and what the market needs and audience wants, as I proved time and time again from;
- Bringing international comedy to India for the first time to appreciative audiences
- Putting on a 3rd International Monthly Comedy Event in Singapore when everyone thought the market was too crowded already
- Bring the Comedy Tent to Singapore’s 2nd largest annual Live Event – BeerFest Asia.
- Creating Singapore’s first ever International Comedy Festival in 2014
- Creating the World’s Most Controversial Open Mic Show – Fight Comic
- Creating Singapore’s first and only Live Comedy Show aimed at Tourists.
I’m going back to my roots of combining my vast experience of broadcast television with my fairly extensive experience of comedy to create a multi-billion disruptive opportunity to create high quality comedy in 100+ Emerging markets using 5 Key Principles (including Blockchain tech)
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∙ Authored by Quilliam Potter
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