Tuesday saw the return of Comedy Club Cambodia to Pontoon, the popular night club located just off scenic St. 51 here in Phnom Penh. If you’ve read my preview of the show from earlier in the week, then you know by now that I’m an unabashed supporter of the project and hopeful for its continued success. So, you might be wondering how I’m going to be able to do a fair or impartial review of the night’s festivities given those circumstances? Good question. I don’t know. I don’t really care either, to be perfectly honest.
The evening opened with Lord Penh (real name withheld by request for purposes of developing an alter ego but I’d probably tell you if you asked me) riding up to the stage on a white vespa and wearing a suit tailored for him from a picture of the Blues Brothers. It was a nice entrance and it showed that M’Lord definitely has some showbiz sensibilities. This was Lord Penh’s comedy / MC debut, meaning it was apparently his first time on stage anywhere in this capacity. I thought he did pretty well considering those circumstances, though his nerves were at times apparent. His initial appeals to get the rest of the front row filled went unheeded, which I found utterly bizarre. Lord Penh’s material on nipple and vagina bleacher got some laughs, as did his story about the origins of his suit and how bringing a picture of the Blues Brothers in to a tailor resulted in him having two made (as absurd as this scenario may seem, doesn’t it just sound sort of … plausible? For Cambodia?)
An aside: My friends and I all sat in the front row, and not just because we got free drinks for it last time. It’s the best seat in the house in a way because the comedian is often speaking directly to you, making eye contact with you, or including you in his material by asking you questions or giving you shit. It’s fun. Honestly. Try it.
Rishi Budhrani of Singapore took the stage next, and while he’s often described in the press as a “newcomer” to comedy, his delivery was confident, collected, and polished. His material about his Indian family and upbringing went over quite well including jokes about the custom of arranged marriages; “How did you know that she was the one for you? My parents told me.” The self-deprecating jokes he made about his lengthy Leno-like face were also well received. He bantered a bit with the audience; I believe I told him at what age I switched over from “tighty whities” to boxers and he managed a joke or two about Liverpool (my friend & bandmate Scotty’s hometown) before running out of material on the subject, by his own admission. Before the show I wondered if he’d be too Singapore-centric for a Phnom Penh audience but he delivered his Singapore related material so well that the humor was obvious to anyone, even someone like me who has never been there and barely knows anything about the place past the basics.
Ro Campbell, lately of Scotland but originally from Australia, headlined the show. His slightly gritty and more profane brand of humor seemed like a good fit for most Phnom Penh expats, though one crude joke involving Kylie Minogue didn’t go over well. His material on Scotland hit the mark (“Israel for the miserable”) as did his light political humor regarding Muslim flag burners and the business opportunities that might present for flag retailers. Ro also covered the subjects of Liverpool (and the virtue of its women, or lack thereof) and doing gigs in prisons.
All in all it was a really good night of comedy and if you missed it, you missed out. Sincerely. In fact, although I am quite partial to Imran Yusuf, this show may have topped August’s in that both of the comics were notably good performers with solid material whereas last month’s opener, Allyson Smith, had some stale jokes on subjects like Britney Spears (probably time to retire those) and some humor that wasn’t geared well towards an expat audience in Southeast Asia. Rishi had a good feel for the audience, being from the region, as did Ro with his Australian background. I had a great time and everyone I’ve spoken with who was present has echoed that sentiment. If any of you were there and disagree with my sunny assessments, please feel free to offer up your version of events in the comments area (in a civil, respectful, and thoughtful manner please.)
What’s next for Comedy Club Cambodia? Hopefully another great show. There’s nothing on the schedule at this time, but barring unforseen circumstances I hope we’ll be seeing another pair of touring comics headed our way within a month or two. If you’re a fan of stand-up or you’d like to check out a different entertainment option than the usual fare offered up in Phnom Penh, I urge you to come on down and check it out.
Ned is also on twitter.