Director and producer Quentin Lee joins us on Close-Up Culture to discuss Comedy Invasion.
The series features Canada’s diverse comedians each spotlighted with a 30-minute set. It is set to make its premiere on Amazon Prime on November 29th and will also be available on Quentin’s streaming platform AAM.TV – the first platform for global English-language Asian diasporic content.
Hi Quentin, welcome to Close-Up Culture. Can you tell us about your background and what led you to the entertainment industry?
I wanted to make films as young as 11 in Hong Kong but I didn’t know how to get there. Immigrating to Montreal brought me closer, I went to Berkeley after high school then eventually made it to film school at UCLA after getting my MA in English from Yale. After graduating from Berkeley, I started making experimental short films that got me into film festivals. At UCLA I made my first feature Shopping for Fangs with my film school buddy Justin Lin that premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in 1997 and launched both of our careers as filmmakers. Comedy Invasion is the first TV series of its kind, featuring comics who are either from the disabled, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ and/or female community.
Can you talk about the creation of Comedy Invasion and your vision for it?
Prior to Comedy Invasion, I created two seasons of Comedy InvAsian, the first Asian American stand-up comedy TV series, now streaming on Peacock, Amazon Prime and Tubi. Following my creative instinct, I want to make an all diverse version for Canada as I’m Canadian… so I created Comedy Invasion as the spinoff featuring not just API comics but also disabled, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ and/or female comics. I got zero support from Canadian broadcasters from production to distribution and financed the series entirely on private equity.
What were the biggest barriers to get this show made?
I showed the initial pitch and then the finished series, certified fully 8/8 Canadian content on the CRTC scale, to every Canadian broadcaster and got zero support. That was the biggest barrier. But I knew the show could work seeing the popularity of Comedy InvAsian.
Can you talk about some of the comics involved in the show and your experience working with them?
Yes, I originally reached out to Courtney Gilmour who won Canada’s Got Talent the same night we were shooting Comedy Invasion. I scouted all the comedians via their social media and some through agents, interviewed them and put the cast of the show together. I show ran and cast two seasons of Comedy InvAsian, so I knew exactly what I wanted when I was casting Comedy Invasion. All the comedians were great… and I was glad I could present their unique perspectives and stories via standup comedy. It’s very artistically satisfying.
What can audiences expect from the show and its format?
Comedy Invasion is based on the format I developed for the second season of Comedy InvAsian where eight comics each perform a 30-min. set. You can check out Comedy InvAsian now streaming free on Amazon Prime and Tubi worldwide: https://tubitv.com/series/300008718/comedy-invasian-2-0
What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?
I hope to make more stand up comedy series, more feature films and TV shows!
Watch Comedy Invasion – https://tubitv.com/series/300008718/comedy-invasian-2-0
Follow Quentin on Instagram – Quentin Lee (@gayhollywooddad) • Instagram photos and videos