Regular participants—Fakkah Fuzz, Rishi Budhrani, Suzanne Shepherd and Quill Potter—from standup comedy competition Fight Comic share what it’s like to be a working funnyman in Singapore.

Are there any parallels between comedy and wrestling?  
Fakkah Fuzz: It’s you versus the audience. If you have them in submission with your jokes, their laughter is a form of them tapping out. Like wrestling, I'd much prefer to do it with a group of girls. And no matter how real it looks, you know it’s just entertainment. 

Rishi Budhrani: They're both unique kinds of performance art, where the audience takes joy in watching the performers getting hurt. Some specific forms of comedy, like improv comedy, have a bit more of the wrestling element. For instance, Fight Comic is six comics pitted against each other and that can be much like a Royal Rumble. All comics have their special moves and someone emerges victorious at the end of the night. And, of course, there's a referee who turns a blind eye to the bad guy's cheat tactics.  

Suzanne Shepherd: Wrestling and comedy are both shows put on to shock and surprise people.  Without the shock factor, either show really isn't that entertaining.

Quill Potter: None. Wrestlers are athletic and attractive to women. 

Why’d you decide to be a comic? Is it all it’s cracked up to be?
FF: I love connecting with people through jokes. Plus, it makes me look a little attractive. I went to a Star Trek convention once and they told me, "Nice alien make up.” I wasn't wearing any.

RB: In the day, I coach tertiary students in public speaking and presentation skills. I would always tell them that standup comedy is the toughest form of public speaking. I realized that I had to walk the talk to gain some credibility, so I tried my hand at open mic. It's changed my life. It's given me the opportunity to get paid to make drunk people laugh in countries I'd never otherwise visit. 

SS: I decided to become a comic because just the thought of it scared the tar out of me.  I think that you should do things that scare you. Otherwise, you'll probably lead a pretty small life. I'm not saying I live an important life, but I do know what "exhilarated" feels like.  

QP: I'm the promoter or the “puppet master” as I prefer to be known, so I run the show. Live comedy is awesome but not quite as good as live sex. But it's better than dead sex.

How do you know when a joke has gone too far?  
FF: I feel a joke never crosses any bounds as long as it is a proper joke and you are able to see the humor in it. However, it is subjected to how tasteful it is or if it is related to a tragedy, how soon is too soon before you tell it?

RB: I haven't had a joke taken too far. But that's more my style, I guess. I've always been more of an observer and a storyteller. So anything I say, even if it has racial, political, sexual undertones, is disguised as a story about my life, or my family etc. Or maybe, I just have a lot of issues.

SS: The audience always lets me know when I've gone too far.   Yeah, loads of stuff is out-of-bounds, but I don't think you want to print those topics in this magazine.

QP: As long as it's funny, everything is acceptable. If you get upset over a joke please don't come to Fight Comic as we often push through the boundaries of poor taste and keep on running till we are hit a wall marked “sick”.

What’s the best part about standup comedy?
FF: When the audience laughs. That way you know you're doing your job.

RB: It's like bungee jumping; naked.

SS: Waiting a long time for the audience to stop laughing so I can tell my next joke.

QP: The women—I jest. Comedy groupies are usually deranged, not hot. Music groupies are hot. I should have been a music promoter.

What’s the worst thing about it?
FF: The exact opposite.

RB: It's like bungee jumping; naked.

SS: Silence... and watching the playback and being reminded how bad my dance moves are.

QP: Having to deal with man-children, the arrested adolescences that are most standup comedians. Not that I can talk, I am the worst of the lot.

Who do you see as your greatest competition?
FF: People who prefer to read the local news. Because I'm a pretty funny guy but when it comes to comedy there’s no way in hell I can compete with our local paper.

RB: Oh, they know. We've had a word.

SS: Myself and my own self doubt. I write my comedy about things that I think are funny, but sometimes other people don't see the humor like I do.

QP: Myself. 

Where did you learn to be funny?
FF: My dad. He's pretty cracked up himself. 

RB: I never knew I was funny. I still doubt it every day. And nobody grows up thinking that they want to be a comedian one day. There's no school of comedy. It just happens. And if you're blessed enough to get roped into the avalanche of the comedy world, then you owe it to yourself and the audience to keep practicing and keep getting better. If people keep laughing, I'll keep telling my jokes. 

SS: I'm going to go with “I learnt it” only because I wasn't born talking.  I think I have always tried to be funny because I was never very good at anything else.

QP: I'm English, so unless you are funny you won't have any friends. You will probably also be beaten up for being dull.

What makes comedy worthwhile?
FF: I am a stunt performer by day, a standup comedian by night and I also work as an actor from time to time. I earn as much as a garbage collector earns. But I do what I love. No offence, of course, to garbage collectors who love being garbage collectors.

RB: I'm a trained actor, host, voice-over artist and trainer. I work in the education industry during the day and showbiz at night. So, comedy alone can't pay. Not in Singapore, not yet, at least. Comedy shows like Fight Comic give us an opportunity to share our views about the world while making people laugh. It's an opportunity to be publicly hated (or liked). You need to be ready to put your self-esteem entirely in the hands of the audience and take risks that you wouldn't otherwise take. I guess that's what makes it all worthwhile. 

SS: My income is not derived from comedy.  For me, comedy is worthwhile because I know what it's like to be sad and depressed.  I know how much it sucks, so I try to make people laugh so they don't have to feel like that.

QP: It pays OK but I have a lot of very rich connected friends so I entertain them in exchange for Champagne and caviar.

Fight Comic is on every Thursday, 9-11pm at Blu Jaz Café.