48 Singaporean Seconds: Meet Franster, the YouTube star who teaches you Hokkien
Singapore celebrates its 48th birthday on Aug 9, and to tie in with this, The Straits Times Picture Desk has put together 48 Singaporean Seconds, an audio-visual tribute to Singaporeans who have made this little red dot their home.
We are releasing their stories and videos in the next few weeks. In the 19th instalment of our series, we talk to salesman and part-time YouTube actor Franster Wong.
Franster Wong, 27, YouTube actor
With his gold chain and tattoos, Mr Franster Wong can easily pass off as an Ah Beng.
In fact, during his Basic Military Training days when he had a crew cut, he was mistaken for an ex-convict who just been released from prison.
In the past few months, he has become a YouTube star. He is a fixture in the popular online comedy series called Sh** Singaporeans Say where he plays Mr Wong, among a slew of Hokkien-speaking characters.
He stumbled into online fame quite accidentally. After graduating from ITE East (MacPherson) in 2004 with a Nitec in multimedia technology, he dabbled in several jobs: helping out at a relative's seafood-products business and selling disposable dental products.
His star turn came in January. A friend asked him if he was interested to do some acting. It turned out that his friend co-founded Night Owl Cinematics, a film-making group that has its own YouTube channel with over 50,000 subscribers.
He's a hit. Currently, he stars in the series, Mr Wong's Hokkien Word of the Day. He plays the title character who teaches people Hokkien terms for 'tap water' and 'underwear' and how to use them in context. The ongoing series averages 40,000 views per episode.
"We get a lot of people asking how to say certain things in Hokkien, like 'rainbow' and 'giraffe'. Those I need to find out," he says, laughing.
Ironically, the guy isn't Hokkien. He is a Hainanese who cannot speak Hainanese.
- Photos and videos by The Straits Times Picture Desk