Performance review: The Special Comedy Comedy Special

Asian-Australian comedians, both emerging and established, share the stage in night of merriment.

OzAsia’s evening of comedy, The Special Comedy Comedy Special, was a joyful event, featuring a well-chosen line-up of Asian-Australian comedians from around the country. The performers, with varying levels of experience and a wide range of comedy styles, all seemed delighted to be sharing a stage with each other. No one was more enthusiastic than pun-loving MC Jennifer Wong, whose warm welcomes and introductions set the tone for the night.

An unexpected highlight was the musical aspect of the evening. Three-piece Americana group Trio Sepia performed personalised walk-on songs at the start of every set, leaving each comedian with the option of either waiting by the microphone looking pleased and bemused, or joining in with some spontaneous dance moves. 

They were a particularly good match for comedy musical duo The Coconuts (who describe themselves as ‘Flight of the Conchords with less facial hair’). Leela Varghese and Shabana Azeez had several very funny songs up their sleeves, including a piece about an acquaintance’s famous curry recipe sung in the breathy style of Angus and Julia Stone (but without Angus). Even Jason Chong pulled out a guitar for his story of being turned down at an acting audition, asking (in the reworked words of Kasey Chambers),’am I not Asian enough?’. 

Suraj Kolarkar opened the show with an assured, well-written set. Annie Louey was likewise confident and charismatic (it’s a testament to her instant likeability that her opening line about being happy to be in Adelaide because she loves regional shows was met only with cheerful laughter). By contrast – but no less successfully – Patrick Golamco played into his introverted persona, getting away with some of the boldest jokes thanks to his unassuming delivery. 

Several media personalities were in the mix, including Question Everything writer Suren Jayemanne and Have You Been Paying Attention? regular Lizzy Hoo. Jayemanne, laidback and unflappable, included some locally relevant material that was well-received, while Hoo was charmingly relatable with stories about her weekly dance-exercise class. Michael Hing, the multi-talented television host and Triple J presenter, closed the night with a few particularly funny anecdotes, including an email exchange between himself and the 2000 residents of his old apartment block. 

Read: Exhibition review: SIXTY

The show’s 90 minutes flew past. I could happily have watched longer sets from many of the performers, especially since several of them seemed to warm up just as their allotted time came to an end. All were clearly skilled comics, however, and OzAsia’s Comedy Special is a great opportunity to sample some emerging and established comedic talent. 

The Special Comedy Comedy Special was performed on 29 October 2022 at Adelaide Festival Centre as part of OzAsia Festival.

Megan Koch is a writer and bookseller based in Adelaide. She studied English and Applied Linguistics at Flinders University.