The other month, I was at a comedy night in central London. I was booked to close the first act, going on as fourth. As the night started, you could tell it was going to be a slow one. The audience was sparse and semi-interested in what was going on, on stage. To a comedian that is one of the most terrifying audiences to perform to, the audience that no matter how much you try you just can’t get the laughs. The nerves build up more and more, closer it gets to my turn and when my name finally gets called, I take a deep breath and head towards the stage.
And as soon as I get up on stage, out of the darkness of the crowd I hear ‘CHING CHONG’. Everything freezes and it gets really uncomfortable both for me and the audience. And it must be super uncomfortable for you reader, just reading the words. And I’m here to say that it is absolutely not okay that they did that, but while they are doing that, the Chinese are taking over.
I do wish that this was a more uncommon occurrence in my life, however it is something that’s been happening throughout and I never know how to react to it. My natural reflex reaction is to do it right back, but you can't fight racism with racism. So you end up not saying anything, because you can't think of a come back quick enough, that'll sting as deep as experiencing structural discrimination for something as trivial as your ethnicity. And you continue keeping quiet, just pushing down all the shame, anger, hopelessness until one day you've suppressed too many”CHING CHONGS”, it all comes bubbling up, just pouring out of you, making it the only thing you can think about, write about, joke about and you take it all and you put all of it, every. come back you came up with too late, every feeling of fetishization and inadequacy into your first full hour show, performing it at a liberal arts festival for middle class people for the whole month of august. Aren't I brave.
Evelyn Mok: ‘Hymen Manoeuvre’ is at the Edinburgh Fringe 2-27 August.
For further information and tickets visit www.edfringe.com