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Stand-up Singapore: Interview with comedian, Sam See

Sam See is part of Asia’s new wave of stand-up comedians, entertaining audiences from around the globe for over half a decade with his unique blend of jokes, stories and improvised humour.

By David Jacklin

Saturday 15 September 2018, 01:00PM

Based in Singapore, he has worked in clubs and theatres with comedians like Dara Ó Briain (UK), Bert Kreischer (US), Gina Yashere (US/UK), Peter Berner (AUS) and Kevin Bridges (SCO). He has also headlined shows internationally, in cities like Melbourne, Malaysia, Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Oman and the Philippines.

Sam will be performing with Stephen Carlin and Graham Whistler at this month’s Stand Up Asia comedy event on Monday, Sept 17 at the Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa, Merlin Beach.

The comedian has been described by Esquire magazine as “Whip-smart, risqué”, so ahead of the event, I asked Sam if he were capable of toning it down a little so I might stand a chance of publishing our interview. Here’s how it went.

Under ‘Sam See’ in the Oxford English dictionary, what would be the definition?

Proper Noun. Someone trying to prove something, but somehow drank somewhat too much somewhere. Also, a big fan of The Golden Girls.

Can you give a brief overview of your career in comedy? How did you break into the scene, and what have been your highlights?

I started in 2012 after a drag queen brought me to a show, and a little over a year later in 2013, I got my first theatre gig and bombed (did very badly) in front of 380 people and my friends. Ever since, it has just been me trying to make up for it.

A highlight for me was the time a 44-year-old banker tried to punch me out for making fun of him on stage, as his wife tried to have me reported to the press. Neither happened and I’m somehow sad about that.

I was made in Singapore. Honest. How would you define the Singaporean humour and the comedy scene?

I’m glad to hear Orchard Towers has always been alive and well.

For years, Singapore humour has very much been race-based. We’re a multi-racial country of four major ethnic races, so obviously the first thing we learnt was how to laugh at each other. It has been evolving over the years, especially in the comedy scene. I would say our style is a lot faster, more punchlines per minute and less storytellers. So if you like them coming at you fast and hard, go to Singapore. Or Orchard Towers.

Do you remember the artist/performance/moment that inspired you to become a comedian? And who are your favourite comedians and why?

I watched a lot of Eddie Izzard on YouTube when I was in my teens. As a kid in a staunch Christian home in a conservative country, it was an eye opener to see a man in a dress not just making jokes about women or gays or trans folk, but actually with jokes, absurd yet poignant. I really loved that and perhaps that might have made me go into stand-up.

As for favourite comedian, I’ll have to go with Paul F Tompkins from the United States. A true renaissance man of comedy, he’s excelled and continues to excel in stand-up, improv and sketch. A rare comedic triple threat.

You talk openly about your sexuality. Sex has always been a popular target in adult humour. Does it provide you with an angle or edge to your performance?

Well it’s always been an interesting thing for me, the gay topic in my set. Too much gay jokes and people do get a bit uncomfortable, too little and I don’t feel I’m being my true self. It’s always about being careful with it, like anything you bring onto the stage, but also using it to the full potential at the same time. But yeah, sex jokes are firmly on the agenda. That’s a sex joke right there.

What’s your favourite one-line joke that I would actually be allowed to print in a family paper?

What did the lion feel after he ate the comedian? He felt FUNNY!

I wrote that for a kid’s party that I was hired for, where I ended up just running a football game and not doing any jokes, so I’m trying to get as much mileage outta it as I can. To anyone reading this: If that joke wasn’t good, eh, you get what you pay for.

You are a panelist on OK Chope! (Singaporean Comedy TV Show). What is the experience like being on a weekly topical live show compared to standing in front of a live audience? Are you more critical of yourself on camera?

The audience size for one. A lot more people are watching over the black mirror, but I can’t hear them laugh, so I have to deliver the joke and hope for the best in their houses. Also, the show is a prime-time slot, so I have to keep squeaky clean, which is 180º from my stage persona. So I have to be careful, yet loose at the same time.

You’re performing with Stephen Carlin on the forthcoming Magic Rock Thailand tour and heading to Phuket on Monday, Sept 17. Have you been to the island before? Any expectations or plans to fulfill a few items on your bucket list?

Never been to Phuket before, so I have no idea what to expect! I’m just hoping to bring my style of comedy to the good folks there and hopefully they’ll not hate it.

As for things I’d like to get up to... a cheap beer and a good nap. One should strive for simplicity.

Stand-up Asia and Grabtaxi have partnered to give all guests going to the comedy events at Marriott Merlin Beach a B150 discount on each ride to and from the event. For details of promo code go to Phuketcomedy Facebook group or Stephencarlin-TheOpinionator event page.

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