“Stand-Up Expat” is the brainchild of multi-talented Didier Chabi. An Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, actor and humanitarian, Chabi is also the founder of Berlin’s East Side Comedy, which brings English language comedy to East Berlin. The success of the club, and its appeal to the cosmopolitan expatriates who frequent it, inspired Chabi to bring A-list stand-up comedians to people living overseas around the world. When it finally finishes with a celebratory performance back in Berlin in January 2012, “Stand-Up Expat” will have traveled to South Korea, Oman, Sweden, the Philippines, Norway, Poland, Malta, Cyprus, India, Indonesia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, China, and twenty other far-flung locales. Through it all, Chabi and his crew are packing Sennheiser wired and wireless microphones to ensure a flawless, first-rate performance no matter what circumstances face them.
“A joke that is not heard is not a joke,” said Chabi, with a smile in his voice. At least a vocalist who isn’t understood can still captivate an audience with the emotion of his or her performance. A comedian who isn’t understood just looks like a pantomiming fool, and, perhaps worse, carries the emotional burden of a crowd unmoved. “It’s like bad psychological feedback, and we want to avoid it,” Chabi continued. “The microphone is our first – and most portable – line of defense against a bad sound system that might otherwise ruin a night.”
Chabi’s experience in the film industry taught him to appreciate the Sennheiser name. “I understand that there is a tremendous difference between a fantastic microphone and an average microphone,” he said. “Experience has proven that not all clubs carry top quality microphones. So, when we committed to this global adventure, I contacted Sennheiser.” They set the tour up with a microphone package that would be ready for anything – including a potential failure that, at the time of this writing, had not occurred. The package includes two wireless microphones – an SK 2000 bodypack transmitter paired with an HSP 4-ew headset and an SKM 2000 handheld transmitter paired with an MMD 935 capsule. An EM 2050 dual-channel receiver completes the wireless complement. Two wired Sennheiser e 935 dynamic vocal microphones tie into the house system directly.
As host, Chabi prefers the wireless SKM 2000 handheld microphone. “It affords me the freedom to move around,” he said. Despite the fact that the tour would test the world’s unpredictable and often capricious RF environments, Sennheiser Global Relations Manager Pierre Morant assured Chabi that the combination of SKM 2000 and EM 2050 would be agile enough to deliver solid performance under any circumstance.
“Although it wasn’t my choice, we suffered through a test of that promise,” Chabi recounted. “In Abu Dhabi, the sound engineer refused to switch out the house system with our mics. But then, moments into the show, the wireless mic that they had given me (not a Sennheiser, mind you) failed due to a frequency conflict that the engineer couldn’t work around. We put the show on hold and did what they should have allowed us to do in the first place. We hooked up our Sennheiser mics, and the agile SKM 2000 + EM 2050 combo worked perfectly.”
Unlike Chabi, the comedians themselves prefer to deliver their material using the wired Sennheiser e 935. “There’s a history to the wired microphone that these guys won’t deviate from,” Chabi explained. “If you watch an old Richard Pryor bit, the cable is part of the show. They want that, too.” The quality of the Sennheiser e 935 is a big hit, both with the touring comedians and the local comedians who warm up the show. “Stand-up comedy is very tricky,” said Ali Alsayed, a standup comedian from Dubai. You need a good set of jokes, perfect timing and the best quality mic. You could be telling the world’s best joke but if the mic is bad your audience will get annoyed and lose interest instantly. It was great having the Sennheiser mic at the “Stand-up Expat” tour 2011. We didn’t even have to be there for soundcheck.”