Comedian, writer & Filmmaker

Tag: <span>comedy</span>

Read The Room at the 2020 Adelaide Fringe!

Buy tickets to Read The Room here:

It’s been 5 years since I performed at a festival. 2015. Holy smokes. Weber, who I did “Blowhards” with had another child. It’s probably in it’s early 20s by now.

A lot has happened – I worked for 2 years as Broadcast / Digital Manager at Channel 44 and another year as the Digital Content Producer Mix1023. I learnt heaps and worked with some great people, but the hours meant not much performing for ol’ Chongas.

In 2019, I started a room called The Black Box Experiment – where I worked with a new Adelaide creative each month to develop a TV show idea in front of a live audience. Then we’d film the last show of the month with the help of Channel 44 and end up with a TV pilot. There are some really good shows in there and I really should have posted about it here, but you can see how it all went at the BBX website.

Read The Room is one of those shows. It’s an idea that I’ve wanted to try for years, and it’s kinda the reason why I set the whole Experiment up. And it turns out it’s really good.

Here’s the gist: I ask curly questions to the audience, and they answer them through their phones (because technology exists now!). Then contestants on try to see if they can pick which way The Room swings. There are variations on that theme – “would you rathers”, moral dilemmas, comparing this crowd to the national average, but essentially it’s REALLY fun – the audiences have been really positive about it, and I’m loving hosting it.

I’ve got a really fun sizzle reel (below) that I’ve started pitching around to production companies and TV networks, but in the meantime I’ve chosen to do a 2 week run at the Adelaide Fringe to get the show in front of more people and tinker with the format even more.

What is “Read The Room”? Watch this sizzle reel!

So here we are! Starting on Valentine’s Day and running for 2 weeks, you can catch Read The Room in Gluttony. Every show will have different guests, and new questions, so if you enjoy it, you’re more than welcome to come again!

On Wednesday Feb 19th I’ve got an Auslan interpreter coming along which will be a first for me, and towards the end of the season, I’m going to live stream a show so you’ll be able to cast your votes from OUTSIDE The Room. I’m still locking down a date for that one, so like my page at so you’ll get updates and that’s where the video will be.

I’d love to hear what you think of it – it’s the thing that I’m most passionate and excited about at the moment, but come help me make it even better for TV!

And of course, it’s more fun with more people in The Room voting, so bring your mates too!

You can get tickets here:

Read The Room Poster Adelaide Fringe
Read The Room at the Adelaide Fringe!

Punching Upwards

Punching upwards.

In an issue about ethnic comedy, starting an article with the word “punching” might not be a good idea…

But it’s an important concept, and one that doesn’t just apply to ethnic comedy.  Punching upwards is the idea that people like to see you “sticking it to the man”, but don’t like to see the little guy get beat up (or girl, because some comics are girls).

I don’t want this to be a tirade about how tough it is to be an ethnic in this industry.  I’ve found the opposite to be true.  I’ve got many opportunities I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, it’s allowed me to find my voice quicker, be more memorable on lineups, and it’s allowed me to say things I wouldn’t have been able to say otherwise.

And this certainly isn’t a statement on diversity in comedy.  I’ve found that it’s very rare that those who would like to try stand up comedy are denied an opportunity – if you want to get on stage, you’ll find a way.  Perhaps the male-dominated, predominantly Caucasian Australian comedy industry more as a reflection of who wants to give it a go in the first place than an effect of the industry only giving further opportunities to certain archetypes.

But punching upwards.

(Hehe, “butt-punching”.)

Every society has a pecking order.  And punching up is the idea that you’re allowed to have a go at those above you.  If you pick on someone below you, then it’s bullying, which nobody likes.  Unfortunately that leaves the majority of the comedy fraternity at the top of the food chain, and sometimes confused as to how they got there.

Ironically, it is one of the few things that disadvantages the White, middle-class male comedian (hereto referred to as “a Dave”) and therefore the one thing that (deliciously) makes him understand what it’s like to be on the outer.  Whether it’s on stage as part of a lineup of 6 other Daves and an ethnic, off stage, in the comments section of articles or someone on a street corner wearing Ugg boots and shorts declaring “political correctness gone bloody bonkers”, there’s a common argument of “why can’t I make fun of them?  I make fun of everyone the same”.  And then they tell some heinous joke about Muslims and wonder why people are leaving the room.

When it’s not going bloody bonkers, political correctness is a concept that those who are advantaged within a society acknowledge that they find themselves in a privileged position, and give consideration to those who don’t enjoy that position.  It is about an equalitarian society being cultivated by those with the power to make it so.

But why CAN’T a Dave talk about Muslims without feeling the rooms’ butthole tighten?  Jon Stewart did a great piece on it in relation to White entitlement in regards to the racial tensions in Ferguson that’s definitely worth checking out.

There is a difference between racial and racist.  And it’s all to do with the question “does this come from a place of understanding?” It’s fine to be critical of an ethnicity or minority if it comes from a genuine place of knowledge, but if it comes from generalisations and popularly held half-truths, that’s the definition of stereotyping.  The people that most understand a culture are the people within that culture.  And very seldom a White middle-class male telling you about his encounter with a group of Bangladeshi women on the tram, now with added accents.

Whenever I hear a Dave start a bit about race or “all women”, I get nervous.  For them.  It’s really hard to pull off.  Although when it’s done well, it’s a thing of beauty.  Often when it works, a Dave puts themselves in the position to be the fall guy. It’s the instant assumption about the situation or culture that is the punchline.  This lets the audience – in all probability a bunch of Daves themselves – champion the underdog and stick it to the man at the same time.

Russell Peters is an example of someone who does it well.  He seems to have a genuine understanding of the groups he picks on.  The best way I can explain that is that it was my Dad (an immigrant from Singapore) who introduced me to him, forwarding me a clip of Russell’s Asian accent, that had already been shared around all his friends, with comments like “this is spot on”.  My dad and his friends introduced me to one of the biggest comedians in the world.  I’m a little ashamed of that.  Worse still, it was a quicktime movie attached to an email, because my dad and his friends hadn’t heard of YouTube yet.

But in the hands of a less masterful Dave, more often than not the bit will lie heavily on stereotypes, and the moment it does, it loses credibility, and consequently (whether fairly or unfairly) the perceived “truth” of the bit.

I’ve often heard improv people say “don’t play for the laugh, play for the truth”.  And although bewildering at the time, it totally makes sense now.  Audiences don’t want to hear an uninformed opinion on some else’s culture.  That will make them want to put a wall (both emotional and brick) between themselves and you.  They want a perspective that has a certain truth to it.  It might be something they can identify with, or something that confronts them, but it has to have an honesty to it.

Think of it as McDonald’s versus your local souvlaki place. If McDonald started criticising them, that’s not cool, but it’s fine other way around.  It’s Aristos vs Goliath.

So why then can a Dave can talk a bunch of smack about his girlfriends and it’s fine?  Because it’s a specific person, not a generalisation.  The audience assumes, regardless of the things he’s saying about her, he has spent enough time with her that it comes from a place of understanding.

Of course, this is all one person’s opinion.  And for every argument I’ve made, there will be an example of someone purposely doing the opposite to great success.  But the more opinions you seek out, the better placed you’ll be to make an informed decision and become the best Dave you can be.

Punching up has been there since the beginning of comedy.  There’s a reason why it’s a man slipping on a banana peel and not an orphaned African girl.  People want to root for the underdog and they want to see them succeed.  Especially in this country.  So when you think about it, Ethnics verbally bashing White People is one of the most Australian things there is.

By Jason Chong, age 34

Fun Game!

I’ve put together a quick list of groups in Australia and the hierarchy I think they might form.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Cut them out and have fun reordering them while Ethnics take all of your women and jobs!

  1. The 1% (Rich people)
  2. Christians
  3. Nickelback
  4. Daves
  5. Students
  6. Hipsters
  7. Nerds
  8. Environmentalists
  9. The Elderly
  10. Bogans
  11. Greeks and Italians
  12. White Women
  13. Asians
  14. Sub-continental Asians
  15. Muslims
  16. Physically disabled
  17. Mentally disabled

This article originally appeared in YAWP Magazine‘s “Race, Culture and Humour” Issue #28

Melbourne Comedy Festival 2013

Oh Hai,

I know you think the best time to tell you about shows I’m doing in a festival is before that festival starts, but that’s just because you assume you know how this crazy business works.

In fact, recent studies have shown that the optimal time to let audiences know about shows you’re doing is EXACTLY HALFWAY THROUGH the run. Doesn’t sound right to me, but a guy on a tram told me. He then said something about needing a dollar and that he had a legion of spiders, so I assume he went to Uni or something.

Anyway, I’m in Melbourne doing a show called “Edinburgh Festabesta” at the Last Laugh Comedy Club. The great news is that also appearing on the lineup is Troy Kinne and probably my favourite comedian in Australia, Lawrence Mooney.

Loz has the ability to make me laugh from so far down in my gut that I make noises I didn’t know I could make. I have sat in audiences and laughed so hard I actually cried, and my stomach burned from joy.

Not only that, he has a special place in my heart because I had a drink with him in Adelaide many years ago with a lady friend of mine after a show. He asked her if we were dating and although she meant to say “no”, she accidentally said “not yet”. Flash forward to a few months ago and I made her my wife.

Now I don’t know if she was scheming me or if Loz put the suggestion into her head, but most probably his comedy released endorphins into her soul, I said hello and she mistook the feeling for love.

Anyway. I’m really enjoying the show, and if you’d like to come along, you can get tickets here: Edingburgh Festabesta.

Also, you totally missed Festival Fishbowl in the Adelaide Fringe, but you can check out all the episodes on YouTube.


P.S. If you wondering why I didn’t perform a new show in Adelaide or Melbourne this year, its because we got married in November, I moved back to Adelaide, then went on a honeymoon and got back the day before Fringe started. I’m super-keen to do one next year, but I was also keen to not ruin our honeymoon by being my usual self-absorbed pre-festival self. I found plenty of other, newer ways to ruin it.