Harith Iskandar, Rayza Mukmin and Andrew Netto walk into a bar. You’ve never heard the other 2 names.
Malaysians are a witty bunch, there’s no horsing around about that. Be it quoting Vines, yelling “mak kau hijau” or watching Netflix stand-up specials, most Malaysians are usually up-to-date with the latest in comedy. Now the real question is why is local stand-up not tickling our funny bones?
A lot of us do watch stand-up shows on YouTube or Netflix but it’s almost unheard of to go to a comedy club (yes, we have those). Is this disconnect a glitch in the matrix? Perhaps not. Perhaps it’s the fact that most of us know that going to a show means you’re almost certainly going to get picked on. Perhaps most of us just don’t think it’s worth the price because you can laugh at something on YouTube for free. Perhaps we enjoy watching stand-up in our pyjamas from the comfort of our own home.
The thing is though, we actually do like stand-up:-
Exhibit A: We’ve got lots of local comedians that are doing not too bad over here but they’re thriving overseas. (Don’t worry, we’ll help you get acquainted with some of them in a bit.)
Exhibit B: Malay stand-up is actually doing pretty okay so the issue is predominantly with English shows.
Exhibit C: There are more comedy clubs in Malaysia than ever before. A quick Google search of “Comedy club KL” will point you in the right direction.
Exhibit D: Remember the first time Russell Peters performed in Malaysia? The year was 2012. He had a sold out show so he decided to add another one which also sold out. Ultimately, he performed to a total of 16k people on his Notorious tour over TWO, not one, but TWO SOLD OUT SHOWS which was unheard of in Malaysia.
Okay, let’s pause on the Malaysian stand-up scene and talk about comedy generally over here. We’ve got many comedians, lots of TV shows based on comedy and enjoy humour to the point that a lot of our local ads are also positioned to be humorous. Y’all remember the Malaysian Idol ones or the Petronas Deepavali ad? If you’ve seen them, you’re either singing one of the songs or thinking about ‘Muthusamy Karrupiah’ but in case you haven’t:
Source: Bennett Huang
So picking up on where we left off when it comes to stand-up, why aren’t we giving our local comedians the time of day? There’s probably not one solid explanation for it but the good thing is they’re standing-up and getting noticed. Here’s a list of where to start with Malaysian stand-up. Welcome to the unit RMM1738 Getting to Know Malaysian Comedians.
Here are some (other) Malaysian comedians (who are not Harith Iskandar) you should totally check out:-
1. Andrew Netto
Handpicked by Harith Iskandar and having been the opening act for one of Russell Peters’ tours, Andrew is known as Malaysia’s youngest stand-up comedian with a long way to go ahead of him.
Source: Emily Chong
2. Douglas Lim
Douglas is a veteran actor and composer of many local TV shows and stage shows. Considered to be Harith Iskandar’s toughest competition, this comedian has taken over the international comedy scene with his wit and relatable content.
3. Rayza Mukmin
Rayza’s comedy shows are in Malay but his appeal goes beyond race. His sets come from personal experience but his self-deprecating jokes make others laugh with him, not at him.
Source: Rayza Mukmin
4. Kuah Jenhan
Jenhan is one of Malaysia’s top international comedians who frequently performs in tours and comedy shows locally and overseas. While Jenhan’s wit makes him a star, what truly differentiates him from a lot of other local comedians is that he performs sets in both Malay and English.
5. Rizal van Geyzel
Rizal constantly jokes about his multicultural background and what it’s like being Malaysian. Having performed with top local artists, he became one of the founders of a full-time comedy club in KL where he frequently performs and showcases other talented comedians.
The thing with comedy is that it’s very subjective so you may not like some of these or the particular clips recommended but there are so many local comedians waiting to be noticed so the next time you want to watch something light and fun, just search some local comedians and you might just find THE ONE who’ll leave you in stitches with relatable content (thanks to the lack of exposure for the local stand-up scene) you could watch live for a steal!
Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the local comedian’s show, of course! I was actually scrambling to come up with a decent ending so I used that fowl one but I hope it was not so eggscruciating and made you crack up. If this isn’t a clear indication that stand-up isn’t for everyone then I don’t know what is so here’s where I chick out.