Just for Laughs: The English Comedy Scene in Lausanne

by Natalie Mazhindu Sandock

March 9, 2022

Typically confined to the realm of dark clubs and dingy pubs, you’d be forgiven for not knowing much about local stand-up comedy. But, luckily for us, the Lausanne scene is bubbling away and full to the brim with great comics who perform in English.

If you’ve been in Lausanne as long as we have, you may remember the regular International Comedy Club stand-up shows at Le Lido nightclub (RIP) on rue de Bourg. The Funny Laundry founder, Guy Stevens, still brings comedy acts from all over the world to English-speaking audiences in Switzerland. Check it out if you’re interested in big shows, primarily in Geneva and Zurich.

Closer to home, you can catch regular stand-up events in the city that cater to an English-speaking crowd. We caught up with a few of the comedians dedicated to getting Lausanne laughing.

Jen Kirwin

is a stand-up comic, writer, and soon-to-be-published author. After a decade of performing on the road in the US and appearing at major comedy clubs, she made her way to Switzerland. Five years ago, Jen created the Expat Comedy Night, an ongoing series of stand-up shows in Lausanne and Geneva. It started as a rant about US election results (guess which election) at a tiny open mic night and grew from there. She appreciates international audiences as an opportunity to share more global material that’s not so US-centric. Jen also encourages other performers to start new initiatives to diversify the comedy ecosystem.

Just for laughs: Jen realized how strong the rivalry is between Lausanne and Geneva when she opened an act at the Bleu Lézard shouting “What’s up, Geneva!?” and was relentlessly booed. Very loudly.

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Jen Kirwin

Vishal Joneja

was born in India and raised in Switzerland. He first stepped on stage as part of an improv team at university and moved on to stand-up when he realized he preferred performing solo. A computer engineer by day, he describes comedy as ‘engineering words’ to make people laugh. He performs in English, French, and German, and adapts jokes accordingly. Vishal likes to write under pressure, which may be why he helped launch the English Comedy Open Mic Night. This monthly event is a chance for anyone (yes, even you) to test new jokes or tell a story on stage. Be sure to reserve if you want to go – seats fill up fast!

Just for laughs: Vishal’s neighbor is one of the “guet de Lausanne” [traditional night watchman]. He found it funny to discover they sometimes have big group meetups, presumably during the day.

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Kate Jones

is a Vietnamese American writer and comedian from New Jersey, USA. She is the voice of Michelle Nguyen on the internationally acclaimed podcast “Welcome to Night Vale ”, and co-founder of London’s Degenerate Fox Theatre Company. She joined a local comedy club program as a teenager and has been writing and performing comedy ever since. She writes for a living and says writing jokes helps keep her professional skills sharp. Kate explains that the new open mic nights are a way to develop the scene in Lausanne and build a bigger community of comedians. If you want to give it a try, she will be teaching a class this summer on how to write your first stand-up set.

Just for laughs: Kate is curious as to why some “no dogs” signs in Switzerland seem to depict an anatomically correct male dog and wonders whether the graphic designer was thinking “No boy dogs. Girl and non-binary dogs are fine.”

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Kate Jones

Brian Tynan

is a relative newcomer to the comedy scene, hailing from Tennessee, USA. He moved to Switzerland for work and spends most of his time enjoying the mountains. He joined community theatre in high school and discovered a passion for performing on stage. His experience with stand-up started in 2019 and says expat audiences tend to have a broader view of the world than he might find back home. Brian met Vishal and Kate through Jen’s show and is now on board to help grow the community. He hopes that people will head out to live events and check out the variety of styles on offer.

Just for laughs: Brian took a friend, who was visiting Switzerland for the first time, to a fondue restaurant in the mountains. His friend thought the cheesy smell was due to the fact everyone had taken off their ski boots.

Find out more: Just come and see a show!