Young Comic Mines Ethnic Chinese Culture for Laughs

By webadmin on 09:45 pm Oct 23, 2012
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Jassmyn Goh

One of the youngest comedians scheduled to perform at the Jakarta International Fringe Festival next month, Dwika Putra, 23, launched his comedy career just last year. After performing at Stand Up Night Bandung, he appeared on local stand-up television shows “Open Mic,” “Stand Up Comedy Show” and “Sentilan Sentilun.”

The native Jakartan has bolstered his experience by performing at corporate events and appearing as the opening act for visiting international comedians.

At JakFringe, he will take to the stage on his own — a first for Dwika — followed by a performance by Australian musical comedian Sammy J.

Although Dwika has clocked up a significant number of performance hours in his brief career, it has not been easy.

“I feel that people usually take comedians lightly and say ‘Ah, it’s just a bunch of dumb people making other people laugh,’ ” he said. “But when you’re in it, it’s not that easy. We have to find techniques for presenting the material like public speaking, and the only weapon is your mic and your own body, so it’s really hard. Along with that, you need to make sure your content will make people laugh, because that is what they’re expecting.”

Speaking of his upcoming role at JakFringe, he said: “Having my own show is really frightening and scary, but exciting at the same time. What if no one shows up? What if no one likes my material? What if they hate me? But I have to try and this is a really good chance for me.”

Although stand-up comedy has only recently become popular in Indonesia, Dwika said he believes that the country has an abundant supply of comic material.

“Indonesia is very rich in the sense that there are a lot of things that we can incorporate into comedy, even traditional things like wayang,” he said. “It is a very harsh place to live, but we can always use some laughter and laughter is free. I hope stand-up will not disappear and is sustainable, because it is only now booming.”

Coming from a Chinese-Indonesian background, Dwika incorporates the humorous side of Chinese traditions into his comedy routine. He said he does this as a way of informing his fellow Indonesians about Chinese traditions and helping to stimulate discussion.

“I’m Chinese-Indo and we have some stupid traditions, like we are not allowed to take food before other people take their food because we would be stealing their luck,” he said. “It’s very trivial, funny and people just accept it. Also, people only see that I’m Chinese and they don’t know what the traditions are, they only see the surface of things.”

He added that his fellow Chinese-Indonesians so far haven’t taken offense at his comical portrait of Chinese customs. “They look at themselves and agree that it’s true,” he said.

JakFringe International Festival
To purchase tickets and to learn more about the festival, visit www.jakfringe.com.
The Jakarta International Fringe Festival, which will be held from Nov. 7-11, is organized by the Jakarta Comedy Club, beritasatu.com and thejakartaglobe.com.