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08:55, September 23, 2009

Punchline Comedy Club comes

Comedians from the UK performing on stage. (Global Times Photo)

After producing back-to-back successes in Beijing eight years ago, Asia's popular Punchline Comedy Club is returning to the city with three of the UK's most sidesplitting comedians in its stride.

Originally finding success with shows at Hong Kong's Viceroy 15 years ago, founder and comedian John Moorhead took Punchline tocities across Asia and came to the Chinese mainland with a string of top-notch comedy acts in 2000 and 2001. Selling out shows and packing venues at the time, the club went low-profile for a while and is gearing up for a major relaunch next week.

"It's such a great release from the stress of everyday life in the city," organizer Ian Burns told the Global Times.

"It is so easy to get caught up in the madness of life and it can really get you down," Burns added, "everyone leaves the comedy club with massive grins on their faces."

Burns said that you do not have to have seen stand-up comedy before to enjoy the show, explaining that for much of the audience, it is a completely new experience.

"The first time I saw stand-up was in China," he said. "I simply loved it!"

Next week's performance in Beijing sees three of the UK's top comedians take to the stage, including one of England's most well known female comics.

Mandy Knight is a graduate of Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and was the first female compare of London's famous The Comedy Store. Labeled by The Independent, a UK-based newspaper, as "a virtuoso comedienne," Knight will join two of her male counterparts in Beijing.

Karl Spain is a veteran performer from Ireland who has taken his popular routine to the US, Middle East, Australia and England. With performances at "The Comedy Store" and on "The Stand Up Show" and "The Late Late Show," Burns said that Beijing audiences should really enjoy Spain's approach to life.

Completing the trio is Carey Marx who began performance life as a sleight-of-hand magician. Marx is very popular overseas and hosts the comedy tent at the annual Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury festivals. Burns said that while China has a solid foundation of local comedians and a regular influx of artists from the US, British humor is completely different.

In the past, the majority of the Punchline Comedy audience has been expats, particularly those from the UK and Europe, however this time around, Burns said that he expects more Chinese to be enjoying UK humor.

He explained that the pace of the comedy and the rate at which the performers deliver their lines is very fast. "When we first put on the shows almost 10 years ago, there were't that many Chinese who could keep up with the jokes, now there are plenty," Burns laughed. He added that the increase not only in the number of Beijingers who can understand the language, but also those who get the context of British humor, has been significant in recent years.

"It is important to be familiar with the accent and the current topics to really understand the jokes," Burns commented. "Then you can be assured of a really entertaining and seriously side-splitting time."

"After watching TV shows like 'Friends' I knew something about comedy. Now I'm in love with it. It makes me laugh and relax," said Zhang Xiurong after watching a Punchline stand-up show in Qingdao.

While next week's performance will gauge the possibility of future productions in Beijing, the comedy club is planning a "who's line is it anyway" evening involving five comedians on the stage at once and incorporating improvisation and audience participation.

"We did a show like this in Qingdao recently," Burns said. "It was really popular with the Chinese audience as you get a chance to get involved with the comedians on stage."

September's show in Beijing will be held at Opposite House's PUNK bar on Monday the 28th. It will also play in Qingdao on the 24th.

Source: Global Times

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