Recent news about needing to tighten measures in Singapore, in light of a spike in community cases of Covid-19, has been a bummer. With group sizes reduced to only two, social gatherings limited and dining-in suspended, this was perhaps not the summer we were envisioning. “Phase 2 (Heightened Alert)” will take effect from May 16 through Jun 13 in the city state, and that means most of us will be working from home and staying indoors as much as possible.
If you, like us, need a dose of hilarity in your life, consider the ever-reliable streaming site Netflix. These stand-up specials by talented Asian comedians will allow you to laugh your troubles away and help distract you from reality.
1. Ali Wong: Baby Cobra
No list of Asian comedians is complete without mentioning the veritable Ali Wong. Brilliant, brash and provocative – helped along by a third trimester belly bump – the feisty comedian is no-holds-barred in her fiercely funny stand-up set. She delivers zing after zing in trademark charismatic fashion on her dating experiences, the challenges of pregnancy and society’s double standards towards fathers. If you loved this one, try her second special, Hard Knock Wife, where she performs pregnant with her second child and is just as hilarious and bold.
2. Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King
Homecoming King was Hasan Minhaj’s first stand-up comedy special, released a year before he got his own Netflix series Patriot Act – an influential talk show that led to him getting listed among TIME‘s 100 most influential people in the world. In this stand-up set, the “Daily Show” alumnus delivers a hugely personal and emotional narrative on his experience growing up in an Indian-American-Muslim family. It’s humorous, poignant and heartbreaking, and it helps that Minhaj has an earnest, sincere quality as well as an ability to deliver his punch lines with perfect rhythm and ease.
3. Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho
Best known for his outrageous role in The Hangover films, Jeong – a doctor-turned-comedian – returned to stand-up with this offering. Incidentally this is his first-ever stand-up special. The Korean-American’s irreverent performance is enthusiastic and entertaining, even if it’s far from original, and makes for an enduring watch if you want to learn about his journey from being a general practitioner moonlighting as a stand-up to scoring a part in Knocked Up. There are also some heartwarming moments of how he met his Vietnamese American wife (who’s surname is Ho) and his thoughts on filming The Hangover while she underwent treatment for breast cancer.
4. Ronny Chieng: Asian Comedian Destroys America
You may recognise the Malaysian comedian from Crazy Rich Asians or on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah as its senior correspondent. In this special, Chieng shines on stage with his insightful yet hilarious riffs on modern American life, delivering a brilliantly cutting perspective as an Asian immigrant that will leave you in stitches. Even though it was released back in December 2019 before the pandemic hit, his rapid-fire commentary is just as relevant and still incredibly funny.
5. Fakkah Fuzz: Almost Banned
Fakkah Fuzz (real name: Muhammed Fadzri Abdul Rashid) is no stranger to controversy. It could be his notoriety that led him to landing his own stand-up comedy special on Netflix – no small feat considering he’s the first Singaporean to be featured in the streaming platform’s stand-up comedy line-up. The hour-long session, which was the taping of a stand-up comedy session, features jokes about his experiences as a Malay man living in Singapore. He also touches on the differences between Malay communities in the region – something Singaporeans and Malaysians can relate to.
6. Aditi Mittal: Things They Wouldn’t Let Me Say
If nothing else, watch this performance for the breakthrough that it represents. Aditi Mittal remains one of the few female stand-up comedians in India and is also the first female comic from India to have her own special on the web-streaming service. Mittal is a refreshing presence, joking about stereotypes, menstruation and her experience as a single woman. The most enjoyable portion is when she morphs into her character, a foul-mouthed elderly lady Mrs Lutchuke, who talks frankly about marital experiences while doling out idiosyncratic advice.
7. Prashasti Singh, Kaneez Surka, Supriya Joshi and Niveditha Prakasam: Ladies Up
This is a collection of four 15-minute stand-up pieces by, as its name suggests, four ladies based in India. The women address everything from dating mishaps to body positivity, maternity and life in quarantine. The show serves a good laugh here and there, but sadly some don’t quite land. Still, the show is a much-needed win for female comics in India, given the largely male-dominated industry.
8. Jason Leong: Hashtag Blessed
Another doctor turned stand-up comic, the Malaysian comedian is ruthlessly funny in his dissection of traditional medicine, racism and business class show-offs. He also talks about his own experience with interracial relationships (he is married to his Malaysian-Indian wife Komella, who is also a doctor). There’s plenty of laughs here to tickle the funny bone, and you’d definitely relate to Leong’s affable, down-to-earth nature and spot on delivery.
All images courtesy of Netflix.