Lee, Jack must be Chinese.
The first time I found myself on stage, I was three years old. My great-aunt owned a karaoke club in my hometown in China. I remember walking into the club with my mom, seeing people singing on stage, and immediately running up to them, grabbing a microphone, and joining in on a song I had never heard before. My mom and great-aunt thought it was cute. The other singers probably found me extremely irritating.
Watching traditional Chinese comedy was a pastime of mine. During the annual Spring Festival TV Gala (the Chinese equivalent of the Superbowl, in terms of ratings – 1.4 billion people tuned in last year), five-year-old me would stay up as late as I could, trying to keep my eyes open through the boring (at least in my mind) dance and singing numbers, so that I could see one of the three “xiaopin” (“short skits” arranged like North-American sitcoms but with simple, family-oriented plots acted out in front of a live audience) performed by comedy geniuses like Feng Gong or Zhao Benshan – two funny-looking middle-aged men who have been performing comedy in front of people for decades. Feng Gong, a fellow Tianjin native, had a round face and a tiny mouth he would purse frequently to make appear even smaller. Zhao Benshan, a decade or two his senior, often played the grumpy old man role and had the looks to match. I can hardly remember any of these shows in great detail, but before moving to Canada where I discovered The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the Simpsons on CBC’s afternoon lineup, Feng and Zhao set the golden standard in comedy, at least for me.