5 Things: Chris Baker on Stand-Up Comedy

By Virginia Werner, April 18, 2016

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That's series where we ask a Shanghai-based somebody to tell us 5 Things specific to his or her life. 

Stand-up comedy superstar Chris Baker has gone from waiting alone for three hours to perform small five-minute shows for a pint of beer in London to becoming this year’s first place winner of the China International Comedy Festival in Shanghai. He was the lucky recipient of RMB10,000, a booked show at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles and has a spot in the 2016 Burbank Comedy Festival. We talked to Chris about becoming a comedian and just what he is going to do with all that money!

1. Being the 'class clown' isn’t necessarily a bad thing

I always loved making my friends laugh, which got me into a bit of trouble in school. I remember thinking it was an accolade to be described as the 'class clown,' but I didn’t know what the path was to getting up on stage. It wasn’t until I moved into a house in London when I was 22 years old that I met a guy who did stand-up. He took me along to my first open mics and that’s when I really caught the bug.

I do think I have a fairly typical Liverpool sense of humour in my day-to-day life, but I’ve adapted it on stage into something more general. It comes from my Dad I think, who is very funny. I suppose it’s similar to Irish wit, but perhaps a bit more sarcastic. I remember a guy a few years ago describing a John Bishop joke that he hated, which turned out to actually be one of mine he had heard a couple of months earlier. I didn’t tell him. It was a pretty rubbish joke to be fair...

2. “Let them come to you”

I used to support international acts in Vietnam at Hard Rock café which could pull in over three hundred people so they were quite big. I remember feeling extremely nervous before opening for Jeff Innocent there, whom I had seen in London years earlier and am a big fan of. He spotted that I was anxious and just before I went on stage he said, “Let them come to you,” which made me relax and remains one of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given.

3. People are usually disappointed by how boring comics can be in real life

I definitely fall into that category.  

4. I want to keep performing no-matter what, for as long as possible, until I pop my clogs

I like the purity of stand-up. All you need is a voice and some elevation. I like the idea of still getting up there in my old age, although I hate to think how jaded my performance will be by then. This summer I will be performing at Burbank Comedy Festival, The Comedy Store and Flapper’s Comedy Club in LA, and at Comedy Cellar in New York. Just the idea of going to the US with the purpose to perform stand-up is a very exciting, especially in big comedy cities like LA and New York. I don’t know a lot about America to be honest, except for some of the bird species (Chris is a keen twitcher). It’s where they filmed the Terminator movies isn’t it? I like Americans, I like that they don’t swear much, which is a trait I deplore about myself.

5. The RMB10,000 prize money won’t last long

Well, I owe 4000RMB in rent and my girlfriend 5500RMB so I’ll probably spend the remaining 500RMB on a diamond embossed Rolex watch.

[Image Via Wes Pantoja]

For more 5 Things, click here.

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