Comedy writer highlight: He Huang
Updated: Jan 17
He Huang (黄鹤) is a Melbourne, Australia-based comic and former international development and policy analyst originally from southwest China. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook. She’ll be performing on Melbourne Fringe shows from Oct. 2 – 11 (live streaming on Zoom), chatting primarily about the (not) wonderful life of lockdowns.
Below, we made her answer five short questions.
Tell us how your comedy has developed during lockdown.
I took live comedy for granted pre-COVID. Since then, I have appreciated more and more about why live shows are so precious and valuable - each performance is like creating a community around that performance. Each community is different because you have a different audience and different reactions, and comedians feed on those reactions and non-verbal cues from the crowd.
One takeaway I’ve gotten out of lockdown is the nuances between live and digital performances (live streaming). Feeding off of a crowd cannot be achieved through Zoom shows. However, these shows have trained me to be more aware of timing and presence because I can see myself in real time throughout the whole performance, something I could not do during live shows. During lockdown, I got to do lots of Zoom open mics and showcase across different time zones, which was very cool as well.
Do you change your content for Chinese versus western audiences?
Yes, but it’s not just about Chinese versus Western. Standup comedy is very much a local artform. You have to say something relatable to your audience. That's why you see a lot of comics open with something local. The more experienced comedians have more various localized jokes they have in their pockets. I am still working on it, and it’s been pretty difficult since I travel a lot. Luckily, it gets easier as I gain experience.
What is something that gives you a ridiculous amount of pleasure?
I like when a witty comeback lands, and both I and the audience enjoy themselves and the joke. This is a win-win situation. I also love creating very original bits while executing them very well through all different rooms.
How did you come up with your best joke?
The best punchlines I have are from conversations with friends, or when I’m just ranting on the stage just ranting.
Describe your comedy writing process.
When I first started, I watched a lot of comedy specials and got inspiration from their topics. This is helpful mostly because I am from a different culture, and I want to understand what the topics and angles other much more successful comedians are talking about. I keep that in mind, and try to get different angles.
Now, I get my material more from day-to-day life events and conversations.
Photography: Crown Visual Studio, Michael Reynold (second two photos)