Chris Tan Has a Roadmap

December 18, 2022

Photo Credit

Donovan Lee


Valerie Lopez


Sara Cline


I’d ven­ture to say that rel­a­tive­ly few com­e­dy ori­gin sto­ries quite match Chris Tan’s. You see, it all start­ed for Tan with a bor­ing local col­lege-prep high school, fol­lowed by an unsat­is­fy­ing invest­ment bank­ing job in NYC, and, final­ly, the linch­pin: a therapist’s sug­ges­tion to try stand-up. Sound famil­iar? I didn’t think so.

You know that Tan has a real pas­sion for com­e­dy because he’s tried a lit­tle bit of every­thing. He’s stud­ied reli­gion, gone camp­ing for months in the mid­dle of nowhere, gone solo back­pack­ing to Ecuador, and taught Eng­lish to immi­grants. He’s even tried his hand at being rich: You know you’re sad when you’re, like, at Rock­e­feller Cen­ter … just star­ing at a Nin­ten­do Switch you just bought with invest­ment bank­ing mon­ey, and then being like, Holy shit, I don’t feel any bet­ter,’” Tan explains.

Comedy is … learning how to make your own fun
Chris Tan

Out of all his many expe­ri­ences, Tan still asserts that one of his most ecsta­t­ic moments was his first time try­ing improv. And as he wad­ed into try­ing stand-up after that (at the afore­men­tioned behest of his ther­a­pist), his sec­ond open mic had him feel­ing sim­i­lar­ly grat­i­fied: You know when you get those but­ter­flies in your stom­ach? It just, like, lets you know that you’re scared, but you’re also alive,” Tan reminisces.

Tan has been par­tic­u­lar­ly for­tu­nate in that he’s divid­ed his time between two of the country’s great com­e­dy mec­cas: New York and Austin. (Although, in one of those cities, he’s been mis­tak­en for Hans Kim about eight times, so there is that unfor­tu­nate draw­back. I’ll let you guess which city.) Get­ting to see so much com­e­dy in NY, Tan gained a sol­id idea of how to be his own favorite come­di­an — tak­ing after the Chris Rocks, the Richard Pry­ors, the Doug Stan­hopes. For Tan, it’s all about being real and break­ing the fourth wall. Plus, he loves to incor­po­rate a lit­tle bit of riff­ing off the dome — a tes­ta­ment to his improv days.

You know when you get those butterflies in your stomach? It just, like, lets you know that you’re scared, but you’re also alive.
Chris Tan

Despite being forced home by the pan­dem­ic, Tan’s morale and tra­jec­to­ry have been unde­terred. His focus has remained on get­ting onstage as much as pos­si­ble, and he’s been able to achieve that quite well with­in the Austin city lim­its. He’s even put him­self through his own lit­tle com­e­dy pro­duc­tion boot­camp here, pro­duc­ing around 55 shows with­in the span of a year and a half.

These days, Tan has been get­ting into fes­ti­vals, pro­duc­ing his show The Laugh­ing Stock, and build­ing up his YouTube chan­nel, but he also keeps his eyes on the prize(s). He finds the fun­ny as much as he can off­stage — turn­ing on his per­former mind­set at fam­i­ly din­ners and the occa­sion­al cig­ar shop. And he fol­lows his roadmap that he keeps in his back­pack — a map poised to take him all the way to land­ing late night com­e­dy tele­vi­sion spots and gig­ging around the world. We can’t wait to see him get there.

Listen to the podcast episode to hear these words and more from Chris

Fol­low Chris

Chris can be seen and heard:

  • Laugh­ing Stock — Host, Alamo Draft­house Mueller
    • Decem­ber 23rd — 2 shows at 7pm and at 9pm
    • Decem­ber 30th — 7:30pm
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Chris Tan