By Drew McCreadie
Recently The Comedy Club Bangkok hosted its first comedy show for children. It was a tremendous success, with two sold out shows on a Saturday afternoon, lots of laughs, and best of all (as organiser Chris Wegoda declared) no pee on the floor when it was all over.
What children laugh at is an interesting insight into the fundamental elements of comedy. Of course, the performer (Chris Henry) performed an obligatory ‘fart joke’, which the discerning audience accepted with grand approval. But what was most interesting to me, as a comedy professional, was how many of the jokes were based on someone being stupid or wrong. Apparently we humans think an error is hilarious.
The show started with Henry stepping on stage and greeting everyone with a big “HELLO”, facing the wall with his back to the audience. The children screamed with delight! He’s facing the wrong way! What a fool! A similar gag (familiar to those who have witnessed British Pantomime) involved Henry standing in front of hundreds of balloons, asking the audience, “Do you know where the balloons are? I forgot where I put them!” to which the 4+ years old crowd screamed “Behind you!” as if their lives depended on it. What kind of adult can’t remember where he put balloons? He’s so dumb!
Henry twisted up a balloon into a dog shape, then twisted up the second balloon promising a cat, but the shape is exactly the same! “It’s a dog!” The young crowd bellows on the verge of an out and out revolt! Henry can’t seem to understand what they mean! He’s so stupid! The two balloons are exactly the same! Why can’t he see that? What an idiot! He holds it up and cries out “Simba” to the Lion King soundtrack and all is forgiven. But his mental abilities are still in doubt.
And so it continues; stupidity received with great approval.
And just in case you think it is just Henry looking stupid that is so appealing (and it certainly is: he was wearing a kilt after all), be assured that this crowd was ready to judge any adult of low intellect. A few of the parents were brought up on stage and gently humiliated by being dressed up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to the delight of the kids. Seeing grown-ups acting silly is delightful, apparently. They didn’t even know all the Ninja Turtles’ names! Uneducated buffoons!
And so the show ended with each kid being assured they would get a balloon (you know, to teach them the valuable lesson that life is fair.) There were still some tears and screaming, and a few parents threatening some time-outs, but ultimately everyone managed to get a balloon in the colour of their choice and the show was over.
Henry packs up his bag of balloons and heads to his next South-east Asian country to more sold out shows, maybe he’s not such an idiot after all.