Interview: Jonathan Atherton for Kings and Queens of Comedy Asia 3

What makes you a king of comedy?
My 20 years of experience. This ang moh qualifies as an Asian king because I’ve lived here half my life and speak six Asian languages (which are incorporated in my show).
How did you pick up all those languages?
I spent (or misspent) my youth living in Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Japan and Africa. I stayed in kampungs with people who didn’t speak English. So it was sink or swim. Also, having grown up in New York in a United Nations enclave, exposed to dozens of languages, my neural pathways were well established for language acquisition.
What’s the best part of your job?
The 23-and-a-half hours a day I don’t have to work.
This is the third installment of the show. How does it differ from previous performances?
The venue is bigger and the acts more international (with British and Canadian Asian performers). There is just enough foreign talent to make this a truly Singapore experience.
The show has played in both Singapore and KL. What do you feel is the difference between the two cities?
Singaporeans are more sophisticated, so they tend to be more discerning. They like their comedy smart and sharp. KL crowds are happy with a more slapstick approach.
What’s the worst and best part of being a stand-up comedian?
The worst part is when you “die” and the best part is when you “kill”. It really is life-and-death on stage.

Kings & Queens of Comedy Asia 3 is on November 2-3, 9pm at the Esplanade Theatre.