Hong Kong comedian Dayo Wong, whose concerts have been sold out. Photo: Youtube
Hong Kong comedian Dayo Wong, whose concerts have been sold out. Photo: Youtube

In a small city like Hong Kong, buying concert tickets is a big problem. Some argue there is more acute imbalance when it comes to buying tickets in the Hong Kong Coliseum than buying housing.

The Hong Kong Coliseum is the city’s only venue that can seat more than 10,000 for a performance. A case in point is comedian Dayo Wong, who has been a popular artist since his first stand-up performance in the 90s.

When tickets to his show become available online, the server system crashes, and it has happened many times. Then there is a scramble for the hard-to-get tickets from scalpers.

According to the local press, tickets in the A zone are sold for HK$15,555 (US$1,982), about 17 times the original price of HK$880. Even tickets in the lowest E zone price are HK$1,400, much higher than the original HK$280.

If the speculation intensifies, a ticket to one of Wong’s shows could be more expensive than seeing Madonna, who performed in Hong Kong in 2016 when tickets in the VIP zone were HK$16,888.

The high prices are a sign of how popular Wong is – his run of shows has now gone beyond the original 17 days. Former legislator and Civic Party chairman Alan Leong wrote on his Facebook page: “Needless to say I cannot get it online at 8:45am, but I could find it in the ticket reselling website for HK$1,348. What’s going on!”

In a Facebook post, comedian Wong said he and his team had no tickets despite some reselling websites claiming they had an internal channel to secure tickets.

“For a performance, sometimes I need to spend a month to think of a punchline,” Wong said. “But someone can make five, six, or seven times profit without much effort from my friends who have to suffer these escalated prices. I urge the government to deal with this problem.”

Reselling tickets in Hong Kong is a gray area not governed by any law because it is a private transaction between the buyers and sellers. It is almost a commonly accepted practice in Hong Kong to buy concert tickets online, and it is not news that many are paying much more than the cover price.

This is especially true when it comes to concerts like Madonna and Lady GaGa and almost all artists from South Korea.

To make things complicated, many tourists from Southern China and Macau go to Hong Kong to see concerts and are unlikely to buy their tickets through the official channel. That is also why many local banks and insurance companies sponsor concerts to ensure their clients or policyholders get tickets.