Today, we are interviewing Desmond Ngai, Instagram personality Travelcomedian, who will share his adventures and story.
1) Please tell us about yourself?
My name is Desmond Ngai. I’m born and raised in Toronto. I started improv comedy in my final year of law school in Saint Louis and since then, I have been hooked. I’ve enjoyed all sorts of comedy and started Travel Comedian when I was studying for the bar exam and needed something fun to do after a day of studying. I am definitely an animal lover, my parents currently have three birds, three cats and one dog. I am also a massive WWE and UFC fan. If I could have a choice what I could be in my next life, I would wish I had the athletic ability to be a fighter or a wrestler. My love of combat sports has led to an obsession with collecting wrestling belts. I also like to listen to horror stories on YouTube and most of all, I love traveling. I am happiest when I am exploring the world and seeing something that I had previously only seen online or in books. My dream is to go on a world cruise and see the entire world while eating lots of food and having lots of fun on a big ship!
2) What were some of the challenges you faced when starting Travelcomedian? What has kept you going?
I did not understand how to use hashtags and how to post consistent material. I remember posting a picture of me on a bridge in Toronto (on a BAD hair day), followed by a picture of my parent’s American Eskimo dog. I then posted a picture of myself and Robin Williams when I met him in 2012 outside of a comedy club in NYC. I bounced around different niches until I learned how Instagram works and I chose the Travel Destination niche. It was also very challenging in the beginning to get likes and followers and the first 3-4 months, I struggled to grow my followers. What kept me going was the response I would get from time to time from other users that found my stuff funny and/or wanted to interact with me. Because there are very few people that mix travel and comedy together, it’s been tough to guage people’s responses whereas in other established areas, you can look at a lot of other accounts to see how yours stacks up. The main thing that kept me going is that I want the world to find humour in traveling and bring this unique combo of travel and comedy to as many people as possible. It’s a grind to take pictures, put them through Adobe Lightroom, write out the hashtags, and write a joke, but I love it and am thrilled to see how people react to my stuff.
3) Can you share a couple of fun stories with us during your travels?
My entire life people have remarked that I do not full Chinese when both my parents are from Hong Kong. I decided to play a little trick in Hong Kong in 2004. I went to one of their gigantic public libraries and asked to borrow certain materials in English (even though I can speak Cantonese). The nice young man tried very hard to converse with me in English and was EXTREMELY helpful with me finding the material I wanted (I forgot what I was searching for). When he was done, I thanked him in Cantonese! The look on his face was classic and I kind of feel bad, but I’m a little trickster. The second incredible story was in Japan in 2008 when I asked my tour guide to visit Yoshida Dojo, a Mixed Martial Arts dojo owned by the 1992 Olympic Judo champion, Hidehiko Yoshida. I was told that their professional fighters will probably not show up and if they do, not to bother them. As I was watching a practice, in walked Kazuhiro Nakamura, a few days before his big UFC fight. I called out to him and he greeted me and I told him I like MMA too and to my surprise, he offered to grapple with me for fun. I am a horrible white belt in Brazilian Jujitsu, but I so wanted to take him up on it. I was dressed in a suit at the time and did not have the gear, but I wish I could have. Getting destroyed on the mat by a professional fighter, as a fight fan, would have been awesome! He was so gracious to me and we decided instead to take a staredown picture, which was one of the coolest moments in my life!
4) If you can go anywhere in the world (that you have no been to yet), where would it be and what will you be doing?
I have seen tons of pictures on Instagram of the Maldives. I would love to go there, spend time in my own private hut/villa and just relax all day long. I think that would be pure bliss and would relieve all my anxieties. I would swim and rent a boat and just do all kinds of aquatic activities. I absolutely love being on the water. The second place I would like to see is Mount Everest Base Camp. I will never be able to climb Mount Everest because of my lack of athleticism and absence of any climbing experience, but I would love to just stand at the bottom of the world’s tallest mountain and just look up at it in all of its glory. I love watching documentaries on YouTube about Mount Everest so hiking to Base Camp would be an absolute thrill for me!
5) What can we look forward to with Travelcomedian?
In about a month, I will start including more visual humour into my posts. I rarely appear in posts right now and I want to change that. Also, you will see the start of Instagram stories that contain my narration of various small videos that I have taken on my travels as well as some short videos containing some fun travel jokes. People will get a chance to know me and all of my eccentricities! Finally, I have focused on European pictures for a really long time and the focus will shift to North America, and more importantly to my home country of Canada. I want to show everyone the beauty we have from coast to coast!
6) What advice would you give travellers and “Pointshoggers” out there?
I absolutely love using travel points to lighten the load financially when I am traveling. I am often perplexed why some of my friends do not believe in it. For my honeymoon, I was able to use my points to pay for two roundtrip tickets to Europe and therefore, my 12-day Mediterreanian cruise (plus two days in Barcelona and Venice each) only cost a little bit more than $3,000 Canadian for my wife and I! Knowing I have travel points makes it much easier for us to plan trips, especially last minute ones! Prices soar when you need to book last minute flights. However, with points, if a seat is available, your points can pay for it and all you pay is tax when others are spending up to 20 or 25 times the amount you pay just to get on that flight last minute. If you want to see the world, sometimes on a whim, collect travel points! Travel Comedian would not be on Instagram without my travel points.
7) Any final thoughts?
The world is full of humour. It is okay to laugh when traveling and seeing the world. This is because you are not laughing AT the world; that would be mocking (which is never good). We are laughing with the world and all of its beauty and eccentricities. We can invent narratives based on certain landmarks that are completely fake, but that would make us laugh about the uniqueness of the landmark, and would make us want to go back and see the landmark again. For example, imagining how ESPN or FOX Sports would broadcast a night at the Roman Colloseum with its famous helicopter shot when it’s Emperor bobblehead night there is a unique thought and makes us laugh while taking in the beauty of the Colloseum. We are not laughing at the landmark. If anything, this is another form of appreciation to these breathtaking and gorgeous landmarks. Finally, check out my Instagram and leave a comment. I love hearing from other users and always do my best to respond. Interacting with others is one of the awesome things about Instagram!