Le’Ana Freeman: Dating, politics, and being funny in Bangkok
“If there is something to be added to the dick joke arena, it probably will be done by a woman.”
As part of BK Magazine’s comedy issue, we spoke to five English-language Bangkok comedians on the return of the scene. Find more in a BK Magazine near you.
Le’Ana has a warm, unbreakable smile and a razor wit—and she’s always, always listening. Hailing from the west coast in the US, Le’Ana started doing stand-up a few years ago but now headlines shows throughout the city with a mix of acerbic dating commentary, political lampoons, and, on occasion, a bra with props.
How did you start doing stand-up in Bangkok?
I started in 2018 because I did this activity where you make a list of 100 fears and I’d already been bungee jumping, so there were not a lot of things I was afraid of but top of that list was stand-up comedy. It took me about a year to actually get up on stage and I remembered how much I missed doing public speaking—which is something I’d been doing since I was 16 for different political organizations. Comedy is a different type of speech because it’s outcome oriented. If you say something and people don’t laugh, it didn’t work.
Photo by Franki Soul
You’re still pretty involved with politics. Is that something you want to bring more into your comedy now that the entire world is on fire again?
Absolutely. I definitely see myself in the John Stewart arena—Bill Maher, Trevor Noah—I’d like to get to the point where I do political comedy exclusively. I’m the vice chair of Democrats Abroad in Thailand now and I started doing political comedy because they had paid me to do comedy after a dinner.
Bangkok’s female comedians have been killing it with their own shows—some of which you’ve headlined. Can we expect more women-led showcases in the future?
I don’t think there’s a single female comedian in the city who hasn’t been told that female comedians aren’t funny. But when we do all-female shows, it sells out guaranteed every time, wherever it is, whoever is hosting. You can’t say that for the male shows. So when people get their head out of their ass, it’ll grow because people like to hear from us.
Yeah, at an all-female show they know they’re not going to have to put up with some guy doing a half hour of prostitute jokes.
Exactly, because the world is on fire, people want authenticity. And there’s nothing authentic about ladyboy jokes or prostitute jokes or dick jokes. If there is something to be added to the dick joke arena, it probably will be done by a woman.
How have you found the crowds in Bangkok? They’re not exactly known for their manners.
You know, when I wrote that list, I was expecting my first show to be the infamous Def Jam comedy where you have 30 seconds until they boo you off. But for me when you’re talking about comedy with sexist overtones—about sexism as a woman—or racial overtones, that’s when the crowd stiffens up. So for me it’s just more of a challenge. But I think the crowds are fine, but you never know who you’re going to get.