U.K. comic is drawn eastward once again - The Japan Times (26 September 2002)
As a lad in Liverpool, comedian Simon Bligh knew it was just a matter of time before he’d end up in Japan. Even the most English of culinary treats was being subjected to Orientation, drawing him Eastward.
“I ate my chips with chopsticks. It was a strong fascination. I don’t know where it came from. Maybe I was a wandering Ronin in a previous life or a tram driver in Hakodate. I just loved Japan, “Bligh says.
So in 1980 he made the trip, taught English in Urayasu, earned 3rd dan status (3rd degree black belt) in Karate and after a two years stint left Japan to pursue a career that would ultimately deliver him full-circle, back to Tokyo, albeit 20 years later.
“All comics are workaholic showoffs. Been too busy with my career. I knew I was one day going to return but to return with Punchline as a stand-up comedian to do a show is a dream made in heaven for me,” he said.
Comedy Club, founded in 1994 by former Star TV presenter John Moorhead,
was originally confined to a single venue in Hong Kong. But Moorhead found
he’d tapped into an unsated craving for stand-up comedy among the
Asian expat crowd and enthusiastic audiences prompted additional performances
in Beijing, the first such attempt in China, Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore,
Vietnam, Jakarta and now Tokyo.
Bligh’s career has been anything but a fast –food experience, although the payoffs have been tasty. When he returned to England in 1982 he wrote a one –man show titled “Banzai,” which earned him a nomination for the Perrier Award, the Oscars of U.K. comedy. “Banzai” was then filmed by the BBC and Bligh took the show to Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s East End.
Since then his credits have included, in addition to his live performances across Asia and at home, television appearances on Saturday Live and The Graham Norton Show.
His most recent work. “The Kung Fu Comic” is soon to be aired on the BBC in Britain.
How much of the Japan experience funds its way into his material? “For the Tokyo show you will get quite a bit. Not so much for my London shows but everything in life has an influence. I’m sure I’ll have more after my next trip. I’m a true henna gaijin. “Banzai” was all about my love of Japan. The show starts in Liverpool and ends on the summit of Mount Fuji. I will do some in my act at Punchline in Tokyo.
Do the expat audiences in the Asian venues react differently from those in the U.K. and do you have to after your material to compensate for that?
“Only a little bit. I have performed with John Moorhead’s Punchline Comedy Club many times and he chooses comics that will travel well. I will still talk slower and wear a bowler hat though.
And the temptation is overwhelming, must ask. Any relation, distant or otherwise, to the famous “Bounty” captain?
not sure but it is possible. I think I might be a descendant of the bastard
love child of a wayward Japanese Jesuit Polynesian slave girl and Capt.
William Bligh. It would certainly explain a lot of things, especially
my love of melons. “