Comic shifts in news

Comic shifts in news

120518_05a

Gary Eck impersonates a kangaroo caught in the headlights of an approaching vehicle. Photograph: Calvin Yang/Phnom Penh Post

A Canadian comedian due to perform at Pontoon last Monday had a panic attack at Singapore’s airport, which sparked erratic behaviour on his part that was interpreted by security guards there as a possible security threat.

Toronto native Christophe Davidson began doing Tai Chi movements to calm his anxiety as he neared immigration control at Changi International Airport with fellow comedian Gary Eck, the latter explained before taking the stage at the sixth edition of the monthly Comedy Club Cambodia on Monday.

Eck said the comedian’s panic had nothing to do with Phnom Penh’s reputation as a standoffish destination for comedians. After last month’s show, UK comedian Jen Brister quipped, “It’s like playing to a room of lesbians.” It was a joke that only a lesbian could get away with, at least in public. “They’re angry, easily offended and very, very intelligent,” she explained.

This week the audience finally lightened up. Emcee Evan Handed, a local comedian, began with jokes inspired by local news, especially the Post’s Police Blotter. Creative crimes, especially those committed with crossbows, are as delightful for comedians as they are for copyeditors (and audiences). Freak acts of nature, like a lightning strike on a penis, also work wonders in both comedy and what news has become. Perhaps a merger is approaching, with an increasing number of reporters becoming court jesters, entertaining and indulging the Lexus elite with ecstatic reports on cupcakes, while others hang on by speaking in code.

Eck performed twice to compensate for the AWOL Canadian. “I shouldn’t joke about it, but I will,” he said before explaining the scene that had unfolded in Singapore. At one point their were 15 armed guards surrounding Davidson, whose Canuck Tai Chi was a bit too jerky to pass for the real thing. When security finally realised they were dealing with standup in distress rather than al Qaeda he was advised to return to a hotel and calm down.

The panic attack was not contagious. Eck was composed and unperturbed on stage, connecting swiftly with the audience, perhaps because his humour was more cerebral than shocking, as well as interactive.

He seemed delighted to discover there was an NGO called the Asia Foundation. “Is that something you put on your face?” he asked one of its expat consultants, and as their conversation expanded Eck seemed to become genuinely fascinated with the entire sector. When he found out that the Asia Foundation employee wrote reports on governance projects, he asked who they were written for. When he discovered they were written in English for Cambodians he asked, “Do you give starving Cambodians the reports to eat?”

It was a fairly biting question, perhaps the most socially relevant at Comedy Club Cambodia so far, but Eck managed the exchange without making a single person squirm. On stage he was likeable, unthreatening and warm – so nice that it was impossible to take offence – but there were purposeful barbs beneath his neighbourly demeanour, and they linger, as they should.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia’s image problem

    In opening remarks at a recent event, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luy David said information can be a double-edged sword. He told a European Institute of Asian Studies (EIAS) briefing seminar that the media has unfairly presented

  • PM Hun Sen says dangers averted

    Delivering a campaign speech from his home via Facebook Live on Thursday, caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen said his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had carried the country through danger in its latest mandate. He was specifically referring to the threat of a “colour revolution”

  • Bumpy road for local ride apps

    Ride-hailing services seem to have grown into a dominant player in the capital’s transportation sector. Relatively unknown and little used in the Kingdom at the beginning of this year, services like PassApp, Grab and ExNet are now commonplace on Phnom Penh streets. However, the

  • Hun Sen lays out party’s platform

    Caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday credited liberating Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge as among the reasons why people will vote for his ruling Cambodian People Party (CPP) in the July 29 national elections. Hun Sen, who has held the reins of power in Cambodia