Welcome to our second interview on our CiHK blog – where we get up close and personal with movers and shakers in Hong Kong who are proud to call themselves Canadian. Everybody likes to think they’re a bit of a comic – but would you actually dare to get up on stage and try to make people laugh? Tim To is a standup-comedian in his spare time and has spent about a decade living in Hong Kong. His comedic style explores his unhinged interpretation of his experiences and defines his own brand of logic. I’ll let Tim explain what that means…
1. Hi Tim! How did you get into standup comedy?
Hi Lilly. To be honest, I’m still just getting started in comedy as this year will only be my fourth year doing standup. But, I got started in the least exciting way, reaching out to producers and getting myself on the list for open mics. Starting out can feel intimidating but in Hong Kong we’re very lucky to have an extremely supportive scene that really look out for each other.
2. How do you come up with comedy material?
I wish I knew – that’d make me a much better comedian. A lot of the times I’ll just write down some ideas, experiences or encounters I’ve had that I think might be funny to share and work it out on stage. That’s something I love about comedy. Each show or mic you have becomes your own focus group – the most brutally honest focus group. It’s rare that I hit a bit out the park immediately. Even if I do, the joke doesn’t stay stagnant. I’ll add or adapt it the more mics and shows I do. I guess what I’m saying is I rarely come up with material, I usually have concepts and slowly develop and form them into material. Yes I love how I put that, makes it sound like far more complex.
3. How do people react when you tell them you’re a comedian?
“Oh nice, do you know (insert famous comic)”. My answer is always yes accompanied with a crazy story about a night out with them and that’s how rumours about famous people get started. I rarely really care about what people do for a living and I think it’s the same for people when they hear I do stand-up.
4. Who makes you laugh?
My friends and family are the funniest people I know. I’m usually the dumbest person in the room which is great because I get to learn and laugh the most.
5. What’s the most memorable moment in your comedy career so far?
Opening for a friend’s headline show. It was my first time doing a big theatre and to make it even better a lot of the people who’ve been great friends and have helped me develop as a comic were also involved in the show in some capacity. So not only am I able to share and celebrate a huge accomplishment for my friend who’s headlining, but I also got to feel like I took a step up in my comedic development too. Nights like that are some of the greatest things to look back on and look forward to developing from.
6. Is there anything you won’t joke about?
Nope. Writing is already hard enough. I can’t imagine what it’d be like if I gave myself some arbitrary barriers. Deciding that I won’t joke about something just seems too arrogant at this stage in my comedy career.
7. What’s your personality off-stage?
On stage I know what I’m doing or at least have an idea of where I’m going. Off-stage I’m Joe Pesci in “Home Alone”, just walking around muttering to myself. My personality is all over the place really depends on where I am and what’s going on around me.
8. I can’t let you go without a Canadian-themed question. What does being Canadian mean to you? On a scale of 1 to 10 – how Canadian do you feel after living in Hong Kong for 10 years?
You can take a kid out of Scarborough but you can’t take the Scarborough out the kid. I feel growing up in Toronto allowed me to experience so many cultures all at once. It never felt divided. We were just a community of people who maybe ate different stuff at home but celebrated in sharing our differences with each other. You can be practicing dance moves for a debut in the morning and using those new moves at a fete the same night, or exchanging mooncakes for fresh vegetables from your Greek neighbor’s garden, and you learn that almost everybody got plastic on their remote controls or a cookie tin full of sewing kits. No clue if it’s still like that but that’s the Canadian experience I love and carry with me every day. After 10 years in Hong Kong, I’d rate myself a 9/10 Canadian, I stopped holding doors for people, ain’t nobody got time for that sh– here.
Thanks for chatting with us Tim! You can find Tim (and check out his comedy!) on his Instagram.