Comedy UN is a new stand-up spot for people who like what the old stand-up spots have got going on — with a more Shanghai-specific nuance. Opened by Storm Xu, former Kung Fu Komedy regular, the club caters to a local crowd, offering “the western art” of stand-up in Chinese and English to a predominately Chinese audience. Comedy UN’s backdrop is a humble rented space equipped with folding chairs and a little cafe serving 30rmb Coronas. They’ve got a stage but more importantly, they’ve got spunk with the club’s pop-up nature lending to intimate vibes. You can practically taste the dreams.
Comedy as Culture
At the show, as Storm stands at the door checking tickets, a nervous energy seems to hang over him before it all begins. The space, rented from a friend, is decked out with old movie posters. It has a lounge area, a little bar, and a makeshift stage at the center. It was created to be a communal arts space with the comedy club in mind, and is the first venue filled in an otherwise empty compound. Plans on the rest are ambitious. Details, hazy.
The crowd arrives with five minutes to show time and finds their seats. Most are forgoing the 30rmb drinks. This is the starkest contrast with other club cultures: there isn't much drinking. Comedy takes center stage. Storm and the four other comics who have been instrumental in the club's realization, Lincoln Daw, Reyhaneh Rajabzadeh, Jason Jiang, and Tingting Yang, think of that difference as an advantage. Lincoln explains that having to change jokes around for a different kind of audience keeps it fresh, and that frankly it keeps them on their toes. A sober audience is paying attention
And they set out to create "different," as well as just wanting to create "more" with more stage time and opportunity at the center of the new space.
Since Comedy UN's doors opened in September, the "original five" has turned into about 30 comedians, half of whom are Chinese and the other half coming from all over the globe (hence the "UN").
The Show Goes On
Though everyone’s stone-cold sober, the place warms up when the host takes to the stage with jokes about being a foreigner in Shanghai who can speak Chinese (classic stuff). Storm stays in the back until the show’s closing. He’s always the final act of the five-person show. Born and raised in Yangpu, he’s been doing the comedy thing for six years, and was named the first runner-up in The Last Comic Standing China (on Iqiyi). Though some word choices are cringe-worthy, as a final act, he does the job, keeping the crowd energized throughout.
The show over all seems up to par with the current comedy scene. And there is something uniquely Shanghai about seeing a Chinese comic performing in English to a Chinese audience — and seeing it go over well.
And well it seems to be going, with 50 folding chairs per show and counting.
Schedule and Tickets
There are shows in Chinese on Thursday and Friday, and one in English on Saturday. All shows start at 7.30pm, tickets are 50rmb pre-sale and 70rmb at the door. Once a month they’ll add two extra shows on the weekend and in addition to stand-up, the group sometimes performs SNL-style sketch shows, all original each time. You can get tickets here, or keep up with shows on WeChat: comedyUN.
Comedy UN doesn't hold open mics (yet), like the other clubs (Kung Fu Komedy and Shanghai Comedy Club), but they pride themselves on giving opportunities to new comics, and will give stage time to newbies to help them improve and help the comedy scene in Shanghai grow. If you're interested, you can reach them through their WeChat, or talk to someone after a show.