So, now everybody wants to be a comedian, is it?


So, you think you’re funny, is it? If you’re already making your mamak squad laugh every time you do an impression or have a quick-witted answer that entails a bitchy comeback remark as sharp as Billy Porter’s in the American drama TV series POSE – does this mean you have what it takes to make people laugh?

The allure of comedy is definitely one, that in the last few years, has been getting more attention than any other art form. It has even become a staple competition piece in multi-form artform “Short & Sweet” locally presented by the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, klpac. With the likes of Johor’s very own Ronnie Chieng in superhero film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to Nigel Ng’s super famous “Uncle Roger”, are you our next Malaysian comedy superstar?

If you are the type that yearns for your turn in the spotlight, unfiltered by having to share it with your fellow actors or ensemble, then perhaps stand-up comedy can be your fastest way to make an impression. Can laughter make you famous? Yes! But beware….

Here’s the thing, it is not just a bag of laughs.

There are a lot of tears in comedy, you just don’t see them because they lie between those short seconds of silence when your jokes don’t land and the crowd starts judging you even before your conservative parents get wind of your career choice.

The life of comedy, as I would like to interpret it, is like watching your own death in a kind of silent torture … where the room is so quiet you can hear your own heart beating.

Ahh but on the other side, the euphoria of comedy and the ecstasy it brings is a hideous addiction because, the second you land your first punch line and the crowd breaks into resounding soaring laughter, at that very moment, nothing else matters but you, your microphone and the power you have over your crowd.

Standup comedy, although very subjective, is a special craft.

I have long encouraged actors, especially theater-trained, to try their hand at comedy. When I say actors, I do not mean when your TIK TOK goes viral, ya kids, I mean people who actually took lessons in acting and can act.

Those with a background of acting seem to transition into standup comedy slightly better – there seems to be an add on flair to the delivery of their material. You’d be surprised that those acting techniques actually do help in your comedy routine.

Let’s take for example, your facial expressions when you go into your method acting skills, like play-acting a conversation scene as you sell your set up for your jokes.

There are so many styles of comedy that you can experiment with. Take Hannan Azlan, our very own golden girl that took KL by storm but also Melbourne and even won the Hong Kong International Comedy Festival with a ukulele and a strong sense of funny improper songs (is there any other kind?)

Shamaine Othman and Sharul Channa from Singapore started out in theatre, both dancers then actors and now kick-ass women in their own entertainment journey. I hope I see more from both women, men and everything in between as well.
Come to think of it, I do believe the comedy scene in Malaysia is a growing amoeba almost like Venom.
It is an exciting time to be in the industry with almost everybody wanting to try their hand at standup comedy. However, unlike theatre, comedy is an individualistic experience, you may be performing with other comedians but the victory is always more personal.

The jokes are your own, and it is an exquisite experience unlike any other when you actually do kill on stage!

Trust me, I have been doing comedy for 30 years and the rush is almost always intoxicating and feels like the first time. Is it any wonder that the lure of standup comedy is gathering its own following, and converting more and more thespians along the way?

Well, if this has convinced you to try your hand at comedy, then welcome to the other side. How do you start? Watch my video lah!

Joanne Kam is a comedian, writer, radio DJ and theatre producer, who has over 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry. Kam’s unique acid-tongued humour and risque jokes have earned her the reputation of being one of the most notoriously funny ladies on the Malaysian stage. For more on the funny gal, you can check out her FB page:
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