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Stand-up for Singapore razes the stage
NOW in its third edition, the biennial Happy Ever Laughter showcase of local stand-up comedy has put paid to any doubt that Singaporeans can be funny.
From now till Sunday night, 11 local comedians are motor-mouthing their way through all absurdities Singaporean - from a senior minister of state's unfortunate remark that you don't need much space to have sex, to the country's censorship regulations that allows you to say "balls" on TV but not "sh*t".
Occasionally, the humour crosses the Causeway to make fun of Malaysians and the 1MDB scandal, and then to the US for a poke at the presidential election. But mostly, it stays on home ground where, not surprisingly, there's a lot to make fun of.
Race is a big issue among comedians. And no one did this better than Dee Kosh. The YouTube star and radio deejay has risen to fame quickly in recent years. But his talents as a stand-up comedian are immense. His anecdotes of being a Chindian straddling two cultural identities are authentic and funny, and his manner of speaking straight from the heart endears him instantly to the audience.
No less effective are married comedians Rishi Budhrani and Sharul Channa, whose sharp jabs at race are delivered with a relatively light touch. But like Dee Kosh's anecdotes, they signal a persistent problem of racial stereotyping in Singapore that needs to be addressed.
Producer Selena Tan and her company Dream Academy have always scoured the scene to bring the best talents to the stage of the Esplanade Theatre, sometimes even taking huge risks with extreme pottymouths that backfired. This time, they've coaxed veteran comedians with no experience in doing stand-up to join them - namely, TV stars Patricia Mok and Suhaimi Yusof.
Mok spent her alloted 10 minutes making fun of her looks as well as other Channel 8 stars. She made Tay Ping Hui, who was in the audience, red-in-the-face after saying he has only one expression for the camera. Meanwhile, Suhaimi Yusof made fun of his heft in the most genial fashion. He tells the audience: "Fat is really just the past tense of fit. If someone tells you to get fit and lose weight, tell him: Been there, done that."
Among the 11 comedians, eight are returning ones - and most are still acing it. Sebastian Tan aka Broadway Beng rewrites popular tunes to address his gout, Siti Khalijah Zainal hams it up as a former supermodel, and Judee Tan knocks it out of the park as Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor Teo Chew Moi (TCM TCM), possibly the most sophisticated and underrated comic creation in this country. Kudos to the comedians, director Hossan Leong and his team of writers for another uniquely Singaporean laugh riot.
- Happy Ever Laughter runs from now till Nov 6 at the Esplanade Theatre. Tickets from Sistic