In the first of our Fringe World 2021 interviews, we have with us surrealist comedian Sonny Yang who is best known for his genre-bending creativity. For the upcoming Fringe World festival season, he reintroduces Sonny Yang’s Incredibly Stupid Adventure Game once again after a successful 2020 run to continue captivating and challenging showgoers.
Drawing on direct audience involvement, no two shows are ever the same – making for a memorable and truly different Fringe World festival experience. In saying that, we just had to rack his brain about it all!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background in comedy and performing!
I started out as a stand-up on the local club circuit a few years back and have since gravitated towards being more of a festival show writer/performer. Incredibly Stupid Adventure Game is my third original production, after Sonny Yang vs Fringe 2017 Edition and Sonny Yang vs Fringe 2018 Edition.
Sonny Yang’s Incredibly Stupid Adventure Game is anything but stupid… Your show was in fact met with high acclaim at last year’s Fringe World Festival. How does one come up with an original and genius show idea?
I’ve always wanted to do a long-form narrative comedy show with multiple characters but I wasn’t too keen on having to rely on actors and costume-changes like a chump, so I came up with the idea of doing a show where I could just chuck everything I needed onto a USB haha.
How did you gravitate towards the style of a 90s graphic adventure game?
I feel like graphic adventure games as a whole are a vastly underrated genre and are somewhat fading into obscurity, so I’m doing everything I can to keep their memory alive!
What is the secret to making surrealism comedy palatable for general audiences?
If I’m looking to create something surreal or absurd, I wouldn’t necessarily worry too much about whether a wider general audience would understand or appreciate it. That said, I’ve found it does help to have the comedy be grounded via an element or a format that people recognise (e.g. a video game, a talk show, a sitcom, etc) which can then be used as a springboard for the more absurd moments.
Opening up a show for audience interaction brings on all kinds of surprises. Are there any really unprecedented moments that spring to mind?
It’s not audience interaction per se, but the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the cancellation of my Melbourne Comedy Festival run last year was the most unprecedented thing ever haha/
Reviews have described the show as ‘addictive’, ‘brilliant’ and enticing ‘comedic camaraderie’. Without revealing too much, what can us newcomers expect from your show?
Lots of frustration and confusion, unfortunately. I love hearing complaints from audience members who have a certain preference for how the game ought to be played, but due to the general ineptitude and anarchy of the rest of the crowd, things never pan out the way they want them to!
What are you looking forward to the most at Fringe World Festival 2021?
Award-winning comedian Luke Bolland’s new show Beside Himself which explores parallel realities. Hot stuff!