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TING LIM “100% Organic Asian”

When comedian Ting Lim migrated from her native Singapore to Brisbane it felt like she had moved from a city run by overzealous school principals to one run by Bob Marley. While the culture shock, bush turkeys and border security posed challenges for Lim, she found comedy to be an effective way to express her frustration and share her unique story. Now after emerging from the Brisbane comedy scene to perform right across Australia and the world, Lim is returning to FRINGE WORLD with A Rice Odyssey, after a sold out run last year. The new show details experiences around her move down under with her signature dark wit and cutting humour at The Laugh Resort at The Shoe Bar & Cafe from Friday, February 7 to Sunday, February 9. BRAYDEN EDWARDS spoke to Ting Lim about how she has come to see the funny side of both her native and adopted homes.

Great to have you back at Fringe for 2020, what’s the difference between the Ting Lim we saw last summer and the one we’re getting this time around?

I think that I have evolved as a comic and my material is funnier and more in-depth. I love Fringe and had such a blast in 2019. The show I did with Sandeep Totlani, 50% Rice 50% Spice, sold out before we even got to Perth. That was really cool. My new show is about my successful invasion of Australia from Singapore. Imagine Christopher Columbus but with a plane ticket and crazy parents.

As you mentioned, A Rice Odyssey delves into the story of your migration from Singapore to Brisbane. When you arrived in Australia was there anything about the place you instantly thought would be a good source of comedy material?

I wasn’t actively looking for a good source of comedy material when I first arrived in Brisbane. Confronting and odd situations started to happen to me when I was trying to settle in. I found comedy a great outlet to express my frustration at these situations. Every gig is essentially a free therapy session.

And now looking back at Singapore, are there things about their culture that you can see humour in that you might not have been aware of while you lived there?

I don’t know if it is just cultural. I think there are also political differences. Singapore is an uptight city with harsh sentences for trivial transgressions like littering and breathing in oxygen. Brisbane is more laid back with the exception of fruit smuggling. Singapore is run by overzealous school principals and Brisbane is run by Bob Marley. Living in Brisbane has definitely made these differences more obvious.

What was it that got you into doing comedy? What do you think you would be doing now otherwise?

I always loved comedy but never saw myself doing it. I started doing stand-up as a way to get over my fear of public speaking and never stopped doing it. I am the same kind of person who would go parachuting to get over my fear of clouds. I don’t know what else I would do if I did not do comedy.

As someone who has taken your comedy right throughout Australia, do you notice a difference between what people find funny in different places?

I never noticed a difference personally. I guess some jokes are better received in cities than in country towns or vice versa. It really depends on the crowd and the night. I believe people will laugh at things that are funny. Everyone can relate to an awkward situation or being an oddball at some points in their lives. I think what has helped me is my overwhelming paranoia and anxiety. I will repeatedly test a joke in different rooms until I am pretty sure it works.

And what made you want to make this story central to your new show now?

I always love stories. It doesn’t have to be a story from an immigrant, it could be a story from someone who moved to the city from the country for a better life. Stories connect us as people. That is why I want to make my story central to the show. I would like people of every creed to come by and enjoy the show for what it is and take away a little something.

I’ve heard that you’ve had some interesting comments from hecklers in the past, can you share with us the most unbelievable thing an audience member has said to you whilst you’ve been on stage?

I have had some nasty things said to me but the most unbelievable one was a lady just pushing me off stage and dancing around with toilet paper like it was a scarf.

You’ve said at times you need to “educate people on how to insult you,” what do you find is the most common or most bizarre misconceptions people might have about you?

I do not want to educate people on insulting me! I think the most bizarre misconception I have ever heard was people doubting my accent and my name. Some people seem to think that I am putting on a fake accent or that I am using a stage name. Look, I am the real deal, baby. 100% organic Asian.

What are you finding funny at the moment in life or the world in general that might be forming the premise for your next show?

My friends and partner find my rants about things that have frustrated me funny. That usually forms the premise of my jokes. I don’t think I know what the next show would be. An idea will strike me and I will start from there. It may very well be an hour of my rants or an hour of me making balloon animals. I am not sure.


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