All images credit Brian Tan
In the world of stand-up comedy, the one-hour show is the gold standard for any comedian. To be able to stand alone on stage and make the audience howl with laughter for more than 15 minutes takes some serious skill. People’s attention spans are dwindling and there are so many distractions in the form of social media.
So how can one single person on stage with just a microphone in hand hope to compete against all this? Brian Tan thinks he can do it and here’s why.
And he feels others can too. All they need are just these three qualities.
1. Addiction to laughter.
Brian started his stand-up comedy journey seven years ago around KL and the Klang Valley. Originally, it was a bucket list item that he wanted to try out; but when he had his first dose of laughter, he was hooked. If you have been to an open mic comedy show anytime in the last few years, chances are you have seen Brian perform. He is constantly jumping on stage either to try out new material or to tighten existing ones.
Sometimes, people have a tendency to assume that it is really easy to do stand up. Laymen who have never tried it don’t know the amount of time and work that goes into making it look effortless.
For the open micers (people who have just started comedy) in the local comedy scene, seeing someone like Brian, a full time working comic, take the time to workshop jokes on stage and be willing to fail is heartening and motivational.
The big brother of the scene, his love of stand-up comedy is such that any comic from a newbie to the stalwarts can just ask and receive his attention and insight. Brian was on the content team for both the Malaysian stand up specials on Netflix and yet will happily discuss joke structure and theory at the mamak with open micers.
2. Determination to make people laugh (sometimes at oneself).
Stand up tends to attract big personalities, but sometimes, a few introverts who really enjoy comedy filter through. Brian happens to be one of these quiet types who loves telling jokes more than he hates being in the spotlight. Being a humble man, he also did not think that he had the personality to be interesting on stage. To counter this, Brian started off as a one-liner comedian. He would write short jokes in a set-up-straight-into-punchline structure.
“I only need 4 hours of sleep. But I sleep 3 times a day”
“I was such a loser that the guy who stole my identity gave it back to me”
“I support myself career-wise by laughing at my own jokes”
Brian would drop these perfectly crafted and painfully punny one liners with the most stone-faced and monotonous expressions. Incredibly few comics have found success with one liners as it can be very difficult to connect with an audience who are used to comics who speak to them.
Yet, undaunted by the times it was hit and miss, Brian persevered and was invited to perform at the prestigious Melbourne International Comedy Festival!
At that point, Brian had only been doing comedy for three years and he was invited to the 2nd biggest comedy festival in the world. This success did not change his work ethic and perseverance and he continues to be one of the hardest working comics in the scene.
3. The love for comedy.
In 2015, Brian made it to Melbourne, Australia. He was exposed to many diverse types of comedy and he describes it as having been his renaissance moment. After his run of 22 shows there, Brian came back to Malaysia a changed individual. He wanted to do more than one-liners. He wanted to talk about his life. This kind of huge change in style, delivery and joke structure would require him to start from the bottom all over again. Instead of being disheartened by the prospect of having to go all the way back to square one, Brian got to work.
His love for stand-up has grown over the years and the desire to keep sharing this love has grown stronger as well. Even to this day, many people do not realise that there is a local stand-up comedy scene in Malaysia. It would be easy to feel disheartened by what can seem like the uphill battle of spreading the word and attracting new audience members but this only seems to spur him on. Over the years, he has run an open mic room that added many new faces to the local scene, introduced stand-up to many locals and has polished his new storytelling style into a gem of an experience.
Now, in 2019, Brian is about to embark on a new phase of his stand-up career by performing his first one hour show. Taking place on his birthday, April 12th and supported by his longtime mentor and friend Kavin Jay and his comedy brother Keren Bala Devan, it is sure to be a night of laughter that will be long remembered. Here’s more info on his show below. Psst! Click on the image to go to the event page!
This post was contributed by Nuha Thijaany who is also a stand-up comic herself along with Brian Tan. Follow Brian on Facebook. Follow Nuha on Instagram. Have a piece that you would like to contribute? Send em over to firstname.lastname@example.org!