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Comic Paul Ogata on comedy heroes and not being Ken Jeong

The Hawaiian comedian and all-round stand-up guy arrives in Beijing

The latest in The Bookworm's recent string of international headliners, US stand-up Paul Ogata heads to Beijing for one-night-only. An unpredictable, high-energy performer and a king of crowd work, sit in the front row at your own risk.

From Hawaii and known for appearances on Comedy Central, The Late Late Show and his debut album Paul Ogata Stands Up: Live in Hong Kong, Ogata is doing his thing in Chengdu, Hangzhou and Shanghai before closing out his China tour in Beijing on Sunday 15.

This guy is certified hilarious, but if you still need convincing watch him in action and read our interview below.

You've toured China before, what made you want to come back?

Everything in my country is made in China, so it’s nice to see America before it gets there. Plus, it's hard to find good Uighur food back home.

What's your favourite thing about performing in China?
The crowds at the shows are fantastic. One time, a couple had come to see a Shanghai show, then travelled to catch my Hong Kong show. Another time, some fans brought me homemade drums with my face on it. Step up your game, the rest of the world!

You've performed all over Asia and the rest of the world, how does your act differ overseas to how it is back home?
It’s pretty much the same everywhere, except my act goes down the toilet clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

You’ve appeared on Comedy Central, NBC and more. How does such large-scale TV exposure impact your career?
Recently I performed aboard a cruise ship where roughly half of the passengers thought I was Ken Jeong from The Hangover movies. It took days of signing autographs and posing for pictures before both the people and I realised what was happening. It's uncomfortable to be stuck on a ship with 3,000 disappointed people. So the answer to your question is, Ken Jeong’s large-scale exposure has impacted my career more than my own TV appearances have.

Do you have a particular career highlight?

Is it doing a movie with Ron Jeremy? Is it having an hour-long special drop on Amazon Prime later this year? Is it performing for royalty and heads of state? No. All of that is nice, but one night I made a woman laugh so hard she vomited and peed her pants at the same time. That's what you live for as a comedian. Such a Super Saiyan moment!

Who are your comedy heroes?

George Carlin, Robin Williams, Don Rickles. Basically: if I look up to you, you will die.

Who are the best comedians you've worked with?
I like the local group of comics that will open for me in any given city. They are busy honing their material and just about to bubble over to the next level. It’s exciting and inspiring. So come out to the shows and see the current best comedians I will have worked with.

Where are you heading next?
Barcelona, Marseille and Rome. But first, Phoenix, because life is cruel.

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