A precise wordsmith
Nominated for the Schweizer Kleinkunstpreis 2020
Simon Chen was born in 1972 in Fribourg, where he also grew up. From 1995 to 1999 he studied drama at the Hochschule für Theater in Bern (now part of the Bern University of the Arts HKB). He spent seven years performing in various ensembles in Bielefeld, provincial Germany and the Theater Marie in Aarau before turning to slam poetry and shifting his focus from stage play to wordplay. Since 2007 he has been an independent slam poet, spoken-word author, moderator and freelancer at Radio SRF, appearing in programmes such as the satirical show “Zytlupe” since 2014. His first solo CD, “Solange ihr lacht”, was released in 2010, followed in 2013 by “Sushi Casanova” (book & CD). He has also featured in various anthologies of Swiss poetry slam. Simon Chen created his first cabaret programme, “Meine Rede! Kabarett am Pult der Zeit”, in 2015, subsequently taking it on a successful two-and-a-half-year tour. It was followed in 2018 by “Typisch! Kabarett für Einzelfälle”. Simon Chen lives with his family in Zurich.
Having grown up at the interface of two languages, he continues to explore linguistic boundaries, “juggling with the letters that signify the world”, as he puts it on his website. Precise and witty linguistic creations are among his trademarks. He is an astute analyst of dialects, precisely because there is none in which he feels completely at home. In “Meh D-Muet”, a short radio work, he turns his attention to Solothurn dialect, which is characterised by soft “Ds” and the absence of hard “Ts”: “dood” instead of “tot”, “Kridik” instead of “Kritik”. As a member of “Die Eltern” along with Stefanie Grob, Matto Kämpf, Sandra Künzi and Gerhard Meister, he created “Pränatal bis postpubertär”, a fast-paced satire on the everyday absurdities of family life. His sophisticated humour, capacity for empathy and a healthy dose of self-irony are very much to the fore in his video blog “AlzHeimVideo”, made for the network alzheimer.ch. Simon Chen’s cabaret programmes are an idiosyncratic blend of stand-up comedy and cabaret of character types, played out in a quick-witted and welcoming space that is uniquely his.