BUSAN – It's 9:50 PM and the location of the open-mic comedy event “HaHa Hole” has already been moved once to accommodate the eager masses. Every seat in the house of PNU’s Crossroads Bar is occupied and standing room is growing scarce. The host, American, Chris Tharp, takes the stage and the monthly open mic comedy show is underway.
"Haha Hole" is the fruit of Tharp's labors, and the most recent incarnation in a line of do-it-yourself comedy events in Korea. Five years ago Tharp participated in Busan's "Poetry Plus," which featured spoken word, but "Poetry Plus" lost steam and faded. Participants came and went, as is the nature of Korea's transient ESL masses, the organizers eventually lost their enthusiasm and the event became a thing of the past.
"Haha Hole", is in its fourth month. Featuring all amateurs, some, like Williams, are cutting their comedy teeth on Crossroads' makeshift stage. However, the laughs elicited by their material would never tell to this being their first time.
American, Marcus Williams, is not only a newbie to Korea, having been here only four months, but also new to doing stand-up. When asked about the status of his nerves when I talked to him before the show Williams turned to me and with a deadpan tone said, "I have a Cass and a cigarette."
American, Chris Tharp, host of the HaHa Hole comedy event
Ross Gardner of Scotland is on his second tour of duty on the ESL circuit and is riffing it up on stage from time to time as well. Other comedians include Brian Aylward who has done stand up in Hong Kong, India, and other Asian cities. Aylward filled the comedy void in his "home" city of Seoul by creating "Stand-Up Seoul" which gives amateur comedians in our sister city up north the chance to give their chops a try.
Unfortunately, this Friday's show will be done sans-Tharp, who is in the Philippines on a long holiday. He is probably laughing it up right now saying, "Those fools back in Busan are freezing their a**** off."
Taking Tharp's reign as MC this month is Roy Early. His dry wit is sure to cure the cold, along with the other comedians coming out.
“Haha Hole,” is a free event held the first Friday of every month at 10pm at The Crossroads in PNU. All are welcome, and all are encouraged to grab the mic and take the stage. Make your momma proud.