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Jinx Yeo: Top five Asian comedians

By | Published on Thursday 28 July 2016

Jinx Yeo

Jinx Yeo is very much an Edinburgh newcomer, and is headed over to Scotland all the way from Singapore, the first person from that specific area of the world, I’m assured, to stage a comedy show at the Edinburgh Festival. To celebrate his inaugural Fringe experience, we thought we’d let him tell us a bit about his favourite Asian comedians, so that you will know, now and in the future, exactly which Asian acts to keep your eyes peeled for when traversing the comedy festivals of the world…

I’m a big comedy fan, so it’s hard to whittle down my list of favourite comedians to just a handful. But here are five of my favourite Asian comedians…

1. Paul Ogata
When I was asked to write this list, Paul Ogata was the first name that immediately sprang to mind.

I first watched Paul perform in Singapore about a month after I started doing comedy. It was a mind-blowing experience – I didn’t know it was possible for a comedian to kill so hard. I remember thinking, “this is the standard of comedy that I shall aspire to”… and that hasn’t changed.

Not only does Paul have a seemingly endless bag of hilarious and clever material, he’s also razor-sharp when it comes to thinking on his feet. He’s one of the rare comedians who can improvise an entire comedy set just based on audience interaction.

Even though he’s based in America, Paul regularly tours in Asia three or four times a year because audiences just can’t get enough of him. If you’ve ever watched him perform, you’ll probably understand why. paulogata.com

2. Ron Josol
A master of fat-free comedy. Punchy routines without a wasted word, while still maintaining a natural conversational flow. He seamlessly integrates accents and impersonations, with observations and hilarious (often true) stories. If you get the chance, ask him about that time he fought Royce Gracie (former UFC champion).

3. Shazia Mirza
The one on my list probably most familiar to Fringe-goers. A comedian who keeps you on your toes, Shazia’s act is akin to watching someone do backflips on the tight rope between funny and taboo. She takes on sensitive topics that even “edgy” comedians often tiptoe around (such as Islamic extremism), and confronts these issues head-on like a boss. Unapologetically controversial, just the way I like it. shazia-mirza.com

4. Ronny Chieng
Many people have said that an aggressive cynical stage persona couldn’t work for a Chinese comedian, but Ronny Chieng proved them all wrong. His angry-yet-funny rants have led some people to describe him as an ‘Asian Bill Burr’, though I don’t think that does justice to Ronny’s unique comedic points-of-view. His bit on helping his Mum fix her computer problems is one of the most brilliant jokes ever written. ronnychieng.com

5. Imran Yusuf
Indian comedians often play on Indian stereotypes, and Muslim comedians often play on Muslim stereotypes. There’s nothing wrong with that – but as an Indian-Muslim comedian, Imran Yusuf doesn’t do either. And that’s what makes him so refreshingly unique. Instead of going for the easy laughs, his intelligent humour mixes introspective personal revelations with insightful social commentary.

He’s also a prince of a guy – generous to a fault when it comes to offering help and guidance. It’s much due to Imran’s encouragement that I’m making my debut at the Edinburgh Fringe. Being based in Asia, I don’t have a fanbase in the UK, so I was apprehensive about traveling halfway across the world to do the Fringe. But Imran told me: “The worst thing that can happen at the Fringe, is that the experience will make you a better comic”. So here I am. imranyusuf.com

Jinx Yeo’s ‘A+ Underachiever’ was performed at Laughing Horse @ Southside Social at Edinburgh Festival 2016.