Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Comedy Chaos’ On Netflix, An Indonesian Sitcom About A Tech Guy Who Buys A Failing Comedy Club

Comedy Chaos, a new Netflix sitcom from Indonesia, has some pretty familiar beats for anyone who is a fan of workplace sitcoms here in the U.S. But this sitcom takes place in a comedy club. Can a comedy about a comedy club be funny?

Opening Shot: “This is how the story started, from darkness,” a voice says, as the black lifts and we see the view of a nicely-appointed living room.

The Gist: Panca (Raditya Dika) has just bought a house for him and his wife Loli (Susan Sameh), which has been a long time coming. When she asks how he was able to afford it, he says he sold some of his shares in his startup, a website that helps handymen find work. Now he no longer has the majority of shares, but he’s still in charge, and he thinks his position is secure. That is, until his business partner calls him and tells him the board has removed him due to some tweets that extoll the virtue of sharing profits with employees.

Despite that, Loli vows to be with Panca through everything; he defended her when they were both kids and some bullies stole her doll on the playground. But “a while later,” things aren’t looking as peachy. Panca started a business having to do with tropical fish that Loli isn’t a fan of, and she’s embarrassed to admit to her brunch friends that they’re cruising by on their savings and that she (gasp!) might need to find a job.

Marlo (Mo Sidik), an old friend of Panca’s, comes by to tell him he’s selling his comedy club, Comedy Chaos, in order to pay off some massive gambling debts; he was making bets on soccer games based on the predictions of a pointing monkey. When Marlo “reads” Panca’s mind about the fish business, Panca agrees to visit the club. There, he meets some of the staff: Marlo’s right-hand man Tanto (Yono Bakrie) and the resident comic Ali (Joshua Suherman). When Panca asks Ali to “say something funny,” he makes a bad dad joke about popcorn.

Still, Panca agrees to come by that night to see the stand-up show. In the middle of the show, a group of debt collectors arrive, looking to bash Marlo’s knees in for not paying his gambling debts.

Panca tries to problem solve, inviting the thugs to the show and instructing Tanto to give them food and drinks on the house. Then he encourages Ali to “have fun” on stage, despite having no new material and the intimidating thugs up front. After the thugs walk away happy, and Marlo has an extra week to pay, Panca liked the fact that he could problem solve like he did at his old startup. He decides to by the club, but he decides to keep this a secret from Loli for the time being.

Comedy Chaos
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? A workplace comedy like The Office, but one that takes place at a comedy club.

Our Take: Dika co-writes and directs Comedy Chaos, and he keeps things pretty simple. Panca buys the comedy club, it struggles, he tries to keep this impulsive purchase from his wife, and he and the staff tries different things to get the club on people’s radar.

The comedy that goes on at the Comedy Chaos club isn’t all that funny; when we do see stand-up, it either loses a lot in translation or it’s just very basic “I have fights with my wife” shtick that stopped being funny decades ago.

But we do appreciate that Dika and the show’s writers use the first episode to establish how devoted he and Loli are to each other, with that heartwarming scene of him taking punches for her when they were kids. We also like some of the goofiness of the people in the club itself, even if their characters aren’t super well-defined.

If you get nothing else from the show, however, you’ll at least get some insight into what makes people in Indonesia laugh, which by itself makes the show worth watching.

Sex and Skin: None.

Parting Shot: As Panca tells Marlo that buying the club from him will be one of the best decisions he’s ever made, the stage lights short out and fall to the floor.

Sleeper Star: Susan Sameh doesn’t play Loli as some society wife who doesn’t want to earn her own living, and she’s not even playing her as some hectoring spouse. She’s just concerned that the business ventures Panca is entering into aren’t his best ideas. But she seems devoted to him no matter what.

Most Pilot-y Line: Ali, as he gets rolling during his standup, compares one of the thugs to Dave Grohl. We get the desperation to keep the thugs laughing, but that’s quite the name to pull out during that bit.

Our Call: STREAM IT. Comedy Chaos is a light workplace comedy that isn’t designed to do anything but be funny and create the “found family” that sitcoms are famous for.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.

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