What ‘Comedy Big League’ Means to Comedians
“We need to work harder. We don’t have any more channels we can go to.”
This is what Park Jun Hyung from the team Galgals always screams out in his screaming gag.
This one seemingly unfitting desperate line makes the audience laugh, but it does have some truth in it, and as is often the case with comedy, the line is as funny as it is sad.
These days Comedy Big League is showing signs of becoming a major hit. With its concept as a survival comedy tournament, it is breathing life into the near non-existent cable comedy programs, especially as comedians from the three mainstream channels SBS, KBS and MBC have gathered to bring on a synergy effect in the show.
But if you look closely at the reality behind the gags, you may start laughing with a tinge of bitterness – especially if you’re one of the comedians on stage.
Comedian Kim Ki Soo joked at the Comedy Big League shoot on September 27, “We didn’t leave [the main channels] because we wanted to.”
The sad truth is, the same line could easily be told over a bottle of soju and bring misery instead of laughter. As members of idol groups are taking over not only the K-Pop scene but dramas and variety, comedians are more or less losing their jobs. Other than the most popular Gag Concert comedians, it’s hard for comedians to find a place in variety shows these days.
There aren’t many places left open for comedians even on programs such as MBC’s Quiz to Change the World or SBS’s Strong Heart, which bring in numerous guests at one time. This reality makes comedy stages on cable channel shows a new opportunity for comedians.
Moreover, in the case of Comedy Big League, the team who wins the most points in ten episodes is awarded with a hundred million won in prize money. It’s an opportunity comedians can’t miss, as the show gives them a stage on which they can show off their gags and also a chance to win a large amount of much needed prize money.
Producers of comedy programs in the mainstream broadcasting systems, however, aren’t looking kindly on the comedians appearing on Comedy Big League. Only one comedian, Lee Su Geun, appears both on Comedy Big Leagueand Gag Concert, and Lee isn’t even a contestant, but an MC for the show. There are no comedians who appear both on Comedy Big Leagueand other major comedy programs.
If you consider the fact that there are many singers and entertainers who are active both on cable and major broadcasting systems, it’s a shame that only comedians are being treated this way.
A comedian who moved to Comedy Big League from another broadcasting system stated, “When I said I was going to be on [Comedy Big League], they told me, ‘Don’t expect us to cast you in our comedy programs anymore.’ But still, I came to Comedy Big Leaguebecause I wanted to find a stage on which I could do my gags.”
So while yes, the prize money is a draw, the comedians on Comedy Big League aren’t there to earn money, but there to earn laughs, and be real comedians. The comedy on the show is grounded in sadness and desperation, and is ironically, more fresh and entertaining because of that very reason. But whether the comedians will be able to put together their desperation with their talent and lead Comedy Big League to the top is yet to be seen.
Photo credit: tvN
- Comedy Big League 20110929