Meet Wonho Chung - the world's leading Arabic-speaking, Korean comedian
We caught up with the multi-talented comedian ahead of his first English-speaking gig in Dubai.Neil Churchill April 29, 2015
What are your career highlights?
There are a couple of highlights that I am extremely proud of. In 2010 I was given a trophy from the Korean government to become an ambassador of Korean tourism. This was a huge achievement for me, as I had actually never visited Korea before that moment. Another achievement was preforming at the Oslo Freedom Forum last year in front of leading activists from around the world. I am also very proud of my record-breaking performance at the Comic Strip Live in New York, where I was the first comedian to perform a full stand up comedy set in Arabic in the club's history.
Recently a great achievement for me was being able to enter Palestine and perform for my fans there. Doing shows in areas like Palestine for people who are in need of a laugh and who live under such difficult circumstances is such an honour, giving me one hour to change their time and add some joy to their lives.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I used to be a professional table tennis player. I played in the Jordanian premier league for six years and then joined Jordan’s national team for two years. I had a national ranking as number eight for but stopped playing when I turned 18, to focus on my school work. I also used to play the piano and took vocal classes so I am a classically trained vocalist. That is why I use a lot of music in my acts. What is your most prized possession?
It must be my watch. It is a recent purchase, which was very difficult to get and I went through a lot of trouble to get it. It is an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ref.15202ST, which is a watch that saved the company from bankruptcy in 1972. The same replica was released in 2012 and this is the one I have.
It is like wearing a piece of history on my wrist. I am a watch connoisseur and I wear my watches with pride. Every modern day man should possess a nice watch. Let’s face it, the most you can dress up as a man is with a suit, when ladies can accessorize their outfit with so many different options. So a nice watch goes a long way.
What is your biggest luxury?
I love to fly and travel so I do spend a lot of money when traveling, as I really want to experience the best of the places I visit. Whether it is eating street food or dining at Michelin Star restaurants I just want to experience it all. Life is measured in experiences and I try to maximize those when I travel. Next month I’m starting filming for a travel show, so will be paid to do what I love.
Comedy always comes from an actual place. That’s why people laugh because they can relate to it.
What would you have for your last supper?
I love fried food so it would probably be something fatty like amazing French fries with a nice escalope on the side. And I would for sure add dessert to it; a lemon merengue or maybe a delicious Pavlova. The only reason I go to gym is to balance my lifestyle with all the fried food I consume – I have to burn the fries on the treadmill!
What film are you embarrassed that you have never seen?
It must be one of the historic, classic films that have made a huge impact on the world. I would say Citizen Kane and any of the Alfred Hitchcock movies. In addition, I only saw part one of the Godfather trilogy and not the rest. So, watching more iconic films is definitely on my to-do list! Who would play you in a film about your life?
Well if I needed to choose someone based on my looks then it would need to be an Asian actor so I would say John Cho from the Kumar and Harold movies, as he does actually look like me and is a great comedian. People have actually sometimes stopped me to ask if I was him!
In terms of who has a similar personality and could play me in a movie about my life, I would like to think it would be someone like Paul Rudd. I really like his humour and his acting.
Finish this sentence: Comedy is…
…art imitating life. Everything I say on stage is true and always a situation that has actually happened to me. Comedy comes from a place that frustrates you and bothers you and is always from an actual place. That’s why people laugh and love comedy because they can relate to it.
Wonho Chung will be performing his first English language gig in Dubai on May 2nd at DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates. Visit here for tickets.