Get your kicks where you can with Zmack Shanghai!

One of the things you have to force yourself to do when living overseas is get out.  It seems simplistic, but after facing crowds everyday and entertaining locals with your otherness, sometimes you just need a laugh. 

I was invited to Mon-Daze a pay what you like, audience participation driven, improv smorgasborg.  The host of the evening was the comedy group Zmack a small batch of quick-witted and brave Zmackers.  The Zmack crew did an amazing improve song about bacon (I'm partial to this portion as the topic was my suggestion) that caused me to laugh so much my cheeks hurt.

The crowd laughed non-stop but the highlight for the evening was a skit in which the crew sat in a half circle facing the audience just telling stories about real life in China.  When the stories got to a particularly interesting or juicy part the Zmackers would act it out in hilariously dramatic fashion.  The best skits were based off a story of about being given advance notice, make that multiple conflicting notices, that an apartment would be torn down. Improv gold ensues as we find out this expat returned to find his apartment fenced and locked up with all his belongings inside before the previously communicated time period(s). Imagine climbing fences, an embarrassing moment with a date, and an awkward police encounter leaving the apartment.  You get the picture. Comedy gold (once you have lived through it of course).

After the show, I met with a very friendly and funny Zmack member Thomas.  Thomas hails from Germany and he was kind enough to answer a few questions just for you.

In your opinion, what are the perks of living here in Shanghai?

You won’t find a more intoxicating mix of flagrant consumerism (with flair!) historical significance (It’s the site of the 1st National Congress of the Communist Party of China) and breathtaking futurism.  There’s a real sense that you’re right in the middle of one of the most dynamic places in recent history.

Everyone living in Shanghai has stories, would you share one with us?

I was in a rush, it was raining and I had finally gotten a cab (almost impossible when it rains). The cab driver was looking at me through the rearview mirror until I -a little exasperated and annoyed- just told him to focus on the street.  He did, for a while until he finally asked where I was from.  Hesitantly I told him Germany.  His face lit up and he shouted with joy: “I knew it! Can I play you some German music I really like?” I nodded yes, and for the rest of the trip he was blaring Helene Fisher songs, (a pretty awful Schlager music Star in my opinion). He was really into it so I just went with it and nodded my head to the beat. He was having the time of his life and I’m just glad I didn’t give in to my initial skepticism and annoyance. Sometimes people just want to share their joy with you, and we’re better for it.

Expat life can get really stressful and living in another culture can really rub you the wrong way however if you lean in, you will be surprised what kind of experiences will find you.  If its just that kind of day and you need a break though, look for the Zmack crew and have a laugh or two I promise you that you will walked out refreshed and ready to face the world, or at least Shanghai!


If you want to keep up with Zmack, you can stalk them on Wechat as: Zmackshanghai or check out their latest newsletter here. Special thanks to Thomas K. from Zmack for the interview!