23 May 2024

Udom “Nose” Taepanich, 55, is synonymous with stand-up comedy in Thailand. A comedian, artist, and writer, Nose uses humor to satirize society and anything he finds amusing about Thailand, and earns a good living in the process.

Udom sparks both laughter and outrage in equal measure. His recent special show on Netflix, titled “Deaw Special Super Soft Power,” has ignited another round of debate, much like his earlier shows.

However, the latest jokes about the older generation and the “sufficiency economy” theory in his Netflix show have landed him in hot water and resulted in a lèse majesté lawsuit.

Among his critics in the media are National Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, Pol Lt Gen Rewat Klingkesorn, and former politician Pareena Kraikup, who filed a lèse majesté lawsuit against Udom.

“I can’t stand it. I don’t want any artist to follow suit. This is not right and I am not the only one who thinks so. Let’s fight in court,” Pareena told the media after pressing charges.

While many feel offended by what they call “bullying” by Udom in his latest show on the streaming platform, others find his commentary as funny as ever and think the critics are being overly sensitive.

Chalermchai was not amused by Udom’s joke that the old generation was choosing not to work nowadays.  Udom made a crack about National Artists in general, and talked about their failure to make a living using the term “Sai Heang” (a Thai metaphor for poverty).

“Don’t you dare drag us (national artists) into this,”  a furious Chalermchai said.


From dropout to controversial stand-up comedian

Born in 1968 in Chon Buri, Udom’s artistic streak emerged early. He enrolled at Poh Chang College of Arts but did not enjoy studying there.

He later said financial constraints forced him to drop out. Despite this setback, Nose found an outlet for his creativity as a cartoonist and later in the art department of a magazine. This period also saw him enter the world of showbiz as an extra in a stage play.

In 1993, Udom landed a role on the popular comedy-variety show “Yutthakan Khayap Nguak,” showcasing his comedic talent and propelling him to stardom.

However, his true calling was stand-up comedy, a relatively new concept in Thailand at the time. In 1995, Udom staged his first solo show, “Deaw Microphone,” (literally meaning one-man standup comedy) to a packed audience, marking a significant moment in Thai comedy history.

Udom’s “Deaw” series, which now number 13 shows, became his signature platform. He wrote and performed the shows himself, tackling social issues with a sharp wit. This satirical approach often provoked his critics.

In 2022, Udom gained both friends and admirers with his “Deaw 13,” which took aim at then Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. While avoiding the PM’s name, Nose likened him to an unqualified pilot struggling to control Thailand.

This ignited a social media firestorm, highlighting the deep political divide in the country.

His critics attacked him, observing that Udom was picking and choosing his targets and avoiding other sensitive issues such as the return of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra or the controversial Dhammakaya sect, of which Udom is considered one of the followers.

Beyond comedy: art and business (1990s to the present)

Udom is not just a comedian; he is a multifaceted artist who finds solace in visual arts.

Despite not earning a living from it, he cherishes the freedom of artistic expression. He told the media that art is something he does every day. It is a kind of therapy, but he enjoys doing it rather than making money from it.

Nose is also a businessman, managing five companies in the entertainment and food fields.

Ironically, one of his companies is named “Por Ping,” which translates to “sufficiency” in Thai—a concept about which he cracked a joke.

He is the director of all these companies. His “Made in Happyland Co” had a turnover of over 230 million baht last year with a net profit of 43 million baht.

Perhaps Udom is a comedian who best exemplifies Thailand’s freedom – after all, he had no trouble making fun of Prayut – and a social commentator who earns a fortune from it.

Although he is loathed by many who do not find his show funny, he has found love and support from his large fan base. At least 3.8 million followers of his Deaw page on Facebook like his show, and it has taken the top spot among TV shows in Thailand on Netflix.

If money and fame are his goals, Udom has certainly achieved them.

Thai PBS World Feature Desk