"As a Thai person, I get some people who are trans, man or woman, or gay that are excited to see me perform—even though sometimes I bomb."
As part of BK Magazine’s comedy issue, we spoke to five English-language Bangkok comedians on the return of the scene. Find more in a BK Magazine near you.
Tana is the sweetest person that will ever make you cringe to your core. Tana grabs your attention by the throat. Now a regular feature on the circuit, Tana originally came to stand-up through an English assignment.
You grew up in Isaan right? So how’d you come to be a comedian in Bangkok?
I moved here about six years ago for university, and I was very bored because I took a break from my thesis because it stressed me out and I lost a few friends through that process. So I found the comedy club and became a fan and started to make friends there. They became like my substitute friends. Then, when I went back to university, I signed up for an English class and I had to do this assignment where I had to interview foreigners at landmarks. But I thought: instead of going out to talk to random strangers why don’t we do a documentary on comedy? But, the person who was supposed to perform one night was in the hospital and they called me 30 minutes before the show and I was forced to write and perform in 30 minutes. It was an interesting experience but I didn’t go back to perform or even watch it for two months.
It’s difficult to do stand-up in any language, let alone your second language. How did you get a feel for how to be funny in English?
After I came to like English through movies and songs, I didn’t just think of English as a language but also a culture. So I became familiar with the cultural impact, that’s why I have a grasp on my second-language’s humor. I always say if you can make or understand a meme in English, then your English is good.
In a previous interview you identified as non-binary, preferring the term androgynous. Have you found a lot of support for LGBTQ+ performers and crowds in Bangkok?
With the crowds definitely. As a Thai person, I get some people who are trans, man or woman, or gay that are excited to see me perform—even though sometimes I bomb. They see someone on stage that kind of represents them. To be honest the scene’s very white and male-dominated, so I am happy to be part of it. With the comedy community as well, they’ve been very welcoming. It’s not a problem but sometimes there’s an argument about how I can get into an all-female show, but it’s just us talking and figuring it out together. I always say that when someone has a question it helps them understand me, and me to understand myself.
Do you plan to mix your drag act with your stand-up any time soon?
I would love to do that. The first time I did it was at a variety show. It was an opportunity because it wasn’t just comedy. I feel like it can be incorporated into what I do but drag is so hard and time-consuming. And for someone like me, who is extra large in Thailand, I can’t just buy a costume from the shop so I have to make it myself. Do the makeup myself. Edit the music myself. It’s so time consuming.