I’ve blogged about Boston-based comedian Joe Wong a few times, as well as seen him twice live in person. It takes a lot of courage for anybody to do standup comedy, but a whole lot more if you’re an immigrant doing it not in your native language. However, Wang will be finally doing a gig in his native language – but not in China – but in Boston:
His efforts will take an interesting side trip on Tuesday at ImprovBoston, when he performs a sold-out show entirely in his native Mandarin Chinese. The idea was sparked by a visit back to China last November, to promote his autobiography. After the trip, he began to realize how many Chinese speakers he encountered in the Boston area. “Before that, I never thought about doing comedy shows in America in Chinese,” he says. “When I started doing comedy, 99 percent of the audience are either white or black. Very few Asians are in the crowd. I didn’t even know if my English jokes would go over well with the Asian community. Later on, I found a lot of Asians in America kind of liked my comedy.”
I don’t know if Wong has ever performed in China in Mandarin (or English for that matter). I wonder if his sense of humor “translates” over in China. I went to a comedy club once in Auckland, New Zealand and was pleasantly surprised that I could related and laugh at most of the jokes. Having been born-and-raised in the Springfield, Massachusetts – about 90 miles west of Boston – I was one of a handful of Asian Americans in my graduating class of 273 students. Certainly there are a lot more Asians in the Great Boston area, but seriously, Boston is no San Francisco Bay Area. I’m impressed Wong has a sold out show to his Mandarin show! Given my limited fluency in Mandarin, I wonder how of his act I would get.
The last time I saw Wong perform in San Francisco some time last year, he had quit his full-time day job as a biochemist to do comedy full-time, which I was impressed with because I think trying to make a living as a comedian has got to be pretty tough. I hope Wong can keep it up! Best of luck to Wong with his Mandarin show – if it’s a hit in Boston, he definitely should take his Mandarin act to California – to places like San Francisco, Cupertino or in Southern California like Arcadia, Monterey Park and Rowland Heights!