Tragedy Plus Time: Vancouver-based Comedian Robert Peng

Robert Peng is a Vancouver-based comedian of over 8 years. After not being able to find an engineering job, Robert channelled that nerd energy into stand-up comedy, delivering gut-punching humour on dating and job finding. Robert has found success gaining a place in the semi-finals at the Seattle International Comedy Competition as well as performing at Yuk Yuk’s and Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy. We spoke to Robert to find out more about his unique approach to stand-up.

Robert Peng

How would you describe your comedy style?

It’s a combination of:

· The insane ramblings of a really lonely lunatic.

· Deep obscure nerd culture references that make your boyfriend laugh his head off even though you don’t get it at all.

· Chinese stereotype jokes that would be really racist if it wasn’t being told by a Chinese guy.

Who are some of your influences?

Bill Burr is one of my main influences, though instead of a Bostonian, I talk more like a cabbage salesman from a market in Beijing. Recent years, I’m starting to be more influenced by Mark Normand. I try to replicate his style of quick and clever improvisational humour. For crowd work, I try to be more like Andrew Schultz. Asking fun questions and making fun of you but not crossing the line for it to be awkward.

Who was your favourite comedian growing up?

Russell Peter is one of the GOATs that got me and many Asians into comedy. I think my mom regret the day she showed me one of Russell’s sketches on YouTube. Growing up in China some of my favourite comedians were the likes of Zhao BenShan and Stephen Chow, the former is a Chinese icon most people in the West never heard of who does jokes based on the Chinese working class, the latter is the filmmaker behind Kungfu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer.

Who is your favourite comedian now?

I really like Jimmy O Yang, he tells stories that I relate to as a Chinese-born Canadian. Shane Gillis is another one I find hilarious.

What is your pre-show ritual?

I start by greeting all the comics and talk to the host to find out where I am on the lineup. After, I relax by browsing a little Reddit and Instagram. Then I zone out and look creepily into the distance at nothing. I do that because I don’t usually bring a notebook and I’m thinking about the jokes I’m going to tell. After I decide the jokes, I pace around wildly like a wild animal while muttering to myself, just to get the blood flowing and my mouth warmed up. Usually, when I’m pacing I usually sneak a peek at the audience, to see what they’re like and try to keep a tally on the jokes they laughed at, what crowd work questions the other comedians have asked etc. You don’t want to ask the same question other comedians have already asked. It gives them the impression that you were not watching the show.

What is your favourite place you have performed? Why?

The Comedy Mix. It was perfect, an underground comedy club below a hotel. Crowd is always packed. They are always ready to laugh. I got my most viral video performing there. Unfortunately, that place got shut down for the dumbest reason, it wasn’t money, and it wasn’t COVID. It was because two brothers got a grudge. If anyone knows those two brothers please help them reconcile, we need the Comedy Mix more than ever.

What is your favourite bit you have written and why were you proud of it?

My take on the whole COVID bat-eating thing. I turn the whole bit to be about Asian cooking Aliens. There’s so many variation with that joke because there are so many creative ways to cook pop culture aliens. I’ve whacked a face-hugger with a wok, cooked the Tree of Souls (Avatar) in pho, hunted the predator with chopsticks, it’s just so fun coming up with ways to eat aliens.

What is your favourite medium for listening or finding new comics/comedians?

Just go to shows. If you like some local comics add them on Instagram where they will promote more shows. Instagram, Reddit and Facebook are also good ways to find the upcoming comedians. I recommend r/Standupcomedy. That’s where I went viral that one time. I’ve seen a lot of local comics post their clip there.

Tell us a joke about your city.

I’m not going to write it down, because it kind of ruins the joke and also it’s not really PG, but here it is. It’s about the Vancouver housing crisis.

Do you have anything to promote right now?

I also have a podcast “Thoughts with Robert Peng” on Spotify. I stopped doing it but if there are a lot of views I might start doing that again.

Where can we follow you? 

Facebook | Instagram | Youtube

PAY IT FORWARD: Who is another local comic/comedian we should know about?

Just fill the blanks for Comedians not featured on here: Daragh Turner, Darragh Bourke, Harris Anderson, Gavin Clarkson, Gavin Banning, Sam Tonning. And many more, you guys really need a list of comedians featured on here.


About Emilea Semancik 124 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: