Kings and Queens of Comedy Asia 6
by Foo Rong En
It is a queer and ironic feeling – to be sitting down in comfortable, cushy seats for something that is called a stand-up comedy performance. In this sell-out extravaganza, featuring not one but five renowned comedians- Kumar (SIN), Harith Iskander (MAL), Gina Yashere (UK), Rishi Budhrani (SIN) and Rizal Van Geyzel (MAL), the audiences were left in stitches from the antics of each of the comedians, each dishing out their unique styles and forms and keeping everyone, well, entertained during those 2 hours of performances on 2 separate nights.
To begin with, the atmosphere was raucous and boisterous, a big departure from the hushed anticipation that precedes performances at the Esplanade. Sparred from the long hours of standing inside a bar and craning one’s neck to get a proper view of the comedian, it was ridiculously easy to fall prey to barrage of jokes that the comedians threw at the audience, with the crowd roaring in helpless laughter as the jokes hit home. With a stellar ensemble of comedians from Asia, quips about current issues were no doubt the highlight of the show – topics ranging from the City Harvest Church scandal to marriage were tackled with wicked humour, while racial stereotypes were explored with irresistible self-deprecating humour.
Well-established in the stand-up comedy circuit, Kumar connected with the audience with an easy, casual vibe that transformed the sprawling theatre into a surprisingly intimate space as he bantered about his life as a “double minority” and the ensuing problems and misadventures. The host of the night, Rishi Budhrani, drew on his own experiences as a married man with a thick lashing of sardonic humour, poking fun at the relationship between men and women and the perplexing habits that are unique to each. All too relatable, which makes the jokes even more addictive.
We managed to find out more from the host of night as well, Rishi Budhrani, as we had a one-on-one interview with him prior to the show:
What do you think makes you comedy royalty?
“Oh please. In the Kings and Queens of comedy, I’m just a jester”
What do you consider is the best part about your job?
“I can vent my frustrations about policies. It is very mood-based, and it is an opportunity to make the audience laugh. I guess I like to think that as a comedian I am also a journalist – just without censorship.”
What are the trials of being a stand-up comedian?
“You put your self-esteem in the palm of the audience and try maintain some self-dignity when jokes don’t go well.”
What is your most interesting stand-up comedy experience?
“I once did stand-up comedy in the province of Nanjing, China. There was an American teacher who was offended by a local Chinese guy in the audience. He was a heckler, trying to create a scene by verbally abusing the Chinese guy. And yes, he was totally drunk.”
What do you do in your free time?
“Play football, watch TV…”
Who are your favourite comedians?
“Growing up, I enjoyed watching Russell Peters and Eddie Murphy”
How about TV shows?
“I am a big fan of F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Modern Family”
Tell me something interesting about yourself.
“I hum when I pee. Ok, another one. There was this incident that happened when I was seven. In my estate in Bedok, there was a very short tree which had an ant’s nest. My friend dared me to shake it and before long I was covered by red ants.”
Tell me about your journey to being a stand-up comedian.
“I was hosting and acting. Then I became a stand-up comedian.”
How did you first know about stand-up comedy?
“I googled it, actually.”
“Seasoned presence turn stage jitters to stage presence, amateur speakers turn it to stage fright. And you need to have integrity to be successful. To be a stand-up guy, you know?” (Pun Intended) The cool thing about stand-up comedy is that there are no barriers to entry. You don’t need any certification. That makes it harder to stand out though.”
What are your plans in the future?
“Play in theatres and travel anywhere in the world”
What do you think sets this performance apart from the rest?
“There are new stuff for the audience that they have not heard me do before. It will be my biggest crowd to date. (Pauses) Also for the rest of my shows I don’t get dinner.”