Byron Murphy in Ireland is known as a ‘gas lad’ which literally translates to ‘a man who can tell a joke’. I met Byron about 2 years ago and he has had me in fits of giggles ever since!
Byron, tell us about yourself…
I’m an Irish lad and more importantly from Cork, but I moved to Shanghai two and a half years ago. I came here originally to study a masters in Chinese philosophy in Fudan, but after I graduated I moved into a different masters in political science. I’m currently looking at the evolution of political legitimacy, or at least how we understand it. After that the plan is to look at a PhD stateside or back in Europe.
Wow, what a nerd! What do you do in your spare time?
Apart from studying I moonlight as a comic at Kung Fu Komedy’s room in the former French Concession. We have showcases on Fridays and Saturdays and open mic nights on Wednesdays and Sundays, and I try to get on stage as often as time permits. Most of my comedy is storytelling, or trying to make light of something I might see on a day to day basis as opposed to your basic set-up/punchline joke, but of course it’s fun to mix that in as well.
I also play American football for our college team, the Fudan Dragoons. In all honesty we are really awful, most likely the worst team in China. I’ve yet to win a game, though other players tell me they have in the past. It is a unique experience playing football in China, as an example we once played against a team with a player who easily weighed 300lbs/140kg. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in our sport, but he would take breaks every quarter to have a cigarette. I found that hilarious, until they beat us anyway.
How did you get into Comedy in Shanghai?
When I first moved here my flatmate, who’d also just arrived, had been involved in comedy in the LA scene for a few years. He wanted to try it here and suggested I give it a shot as well as he thought I’d be suited to it. The two of us went to an open mic night and it went really well, so after about a month we were both doing weekend showcases. Trying comedy was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Even if it comes to nothing long term, it’s character building and the confidence you get from it can be transferred anywhere. I also got to work in amazing rooms like the Pearl theatre, which is as attractive a venue as you’ll ever see. All in all I think I was really lucky the way things panned out.
Tell us your best Shanghai joke!
Shopping in Shanghai can be tricky. Every time I get my list out I read: ‘Milk, Sugar, two Lemons…wait, this isn’t a shopping list, it’s a Wechat group with all my Chinese friends’.
In 1 word, describe your Shanghai experience to date?
Check out one of Byron’s next shows at Kung Fu Komedy.