Meet the Trilingual Comedian Spicing Up Shanghai's Comedy Scene

By Ned Kelly, November 22, 2023

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Norah is the first trilingual female stand-up comedian in China, and a cast member in numerous popular TV shows.

As if that was not enough, she has now co-founded SpicyComedy Club, a comedy club in Shanghai that features some of the funniest local and traveling comedians

We caught up with her to talk about the new club, where she finds her inspiration, and the future of comedy in China.

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For those not in the know, please introduce SpicyComedy?
SpicyComedy, located in downtown Shanghai, is a comedy club that delivers humor in English, Mandarin, and the local Shanghai dialect.

With our unique blend of languages, SpicyComedy creates an inclusive comedic experience for diverse audiences. We proudly represent the vibrant essence of the comedy scene right here in Shanghai.

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You are a trilingual comic – how does that work? And how many people can actually follow you?!
I perform comedy in Mandarin, English, Japanese, and even in the Shanghai dialect.

Bringing laughter to people in their own language is what I truly enjoy. The sense of accomplishment motivates me to continue learning and producing comedy in various languages.

As for how many people can actually follow me? I suppose anyone who is inspired and loves to be curious about the world will be able to follow my comedy.

If you're interested, you can use me as your Duolingo or any other language learning app – a simple and enjoyable way for us to learn and grow together.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a comedian?
I didn't know that a career in comedy was an option when I was younger, but I always enjoyed making people around me laugh.

I recall back in high school when, instead of providing a conventional answer to a teacher's question, I opted for a more imaginative response, aiming to bring joy to my fellow classmates rather than impressing the teacher.

During those times, I discovered that making others laugh was where I found a true sense of accomplishment. As I grew older, I realized that anyone could be a comedian, so I decided to give it a shot.

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Who are your comedy heroes?
I find inspiration in many figures in the comedy world. For English comedy, one I love is Taylor Tomlinson, whose Netflix Special Quarter Life Crisis is truly a work of art that resonates with me.

As a relatively young comedian, she brings a fresh perspective to life, excelling in acting out and covering a broad spectrum of topics with a cool and diverse approach.

Where do you draw inspiration from as a comic?
It comes from people and life around me – talking to them, hanging out. Everyday moments often spark ideas for my comedy. Connecting with people is what truly fuels my comedic development.

What's the most exciting gig you have done?
I truly miss the time when I did my first themed headline show back in 2019. It was a cool experience as I got to impress people in different languages with slightly varied material, and I recall those shows being exceptionally enjoyable.

How would you describe the current state of the Shanghai comedy scene?
I believe we're still in a developmental phase. Standup comedy in China is gaining more attention and awareness, but we need a larger scene where many can make a living.

At the moment, Mandarin comedians can make a living by doing comedy, but English comedians are facing challenges. SpicyComedy aims to address this by becoming a multicultural comedy club.

Whether you focus on English or bilingual comedy, our goal is to create an environment where you can make a living doing what you love.

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What do you see for comedy in China going forward?
I see a positive trend with more young and senior individuals joining the industry, which is great because comedy should reflect the entire spectrum of life; we need more voices from my dad's generation, and enthusiastic high schoolers willing to share their life stories on stage.

This growing trend excites me, and I look forward to seeing a more diverse range of comedians in various clubs, attracting a larger audience.

Any plans to bring in acts from abroad at all?
Yes, that's our goal. We're reaching out to international comedians and headliners, hoping to bring them to Shanghai to perform at SpicyComedy.

It might take some time, but our aim is to have more diverse comedians on stage next year.

Finally, why should people head along to SpicyComedy?
Our location [in Xintiandi] is incredibly convenient, perfect for those working or hanging out in the area – you can swing by, enjoy some laughs, and seamlessly continue your plans, whether it's grabbing dinner or catching a movie. 

Our lineup features a diverse and interesting cast, including locals, foreigners, guys, girls – everyone's here.

We've got drinks, and we recommend sipping on one while enjoying the comedy for an extra dose of fun. 

The place has a cool vibe with cool people, a must-visit. Meet our awesome team – the Spicy Girls – ensuring top-notch service.

Trust us, it's bound to be a lot of fun!

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SpicyComedy English Stand-Up Showcase

SpicyComedy is a stand-up comedy show in Shanghai that features some of the funniest local and traveling comedians.

With shows held throughout the week at the SpicyComedy Lounge in Xintiandi, audiences are in for an unforgettable night of laughs.

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Each show features five to six talented English-language comedians, each performing 8-15 minute sets, varying with everything from spotlight specials with featured comedians to open mic nights for newcomers. 

Seating is first come, first served, so head down early to get a good spot!

Bonus: November's promotion sees Thursday shows include a free drink.

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For all the latest show details, and to purchase tickets, scan the QR code.

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SpicyComedy Lounge, 3F, Building 6-7, South Block, 123 Xingye Lu, by Madang Lu 兴业路123弄,新天地时尚一期6-7号楼3层南里食集北区, 近马当路.

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