A jump into insanity

The three first-timers in Happy Ever Laughter are (above from left) Dee Kosh, Patricia Mok and Suhaimi Yusof.
The three first-timers in Happy Ever Laughter are (above from left) Dee Kosh, Patricia Mok and Suhaimi Yusof.PHOTO: DREAM ACADEMY

Comedian Suhaimi Yusof, who is one of three new faces in Happy Ever Laughter's third run, says being in the stand-up comedy show is like leaping off a bridge

For Suhaimi Yusof - the rubber-faced comedian who has for over a decade kept the Singapore television audience in stitches - agreeing to be part of stand-up comedy show Happy Ever Laughter was like taking a leap off a bridge.

"Many years back, I stood on a platform and jumped off a bridge in New Zealand - and I thought that was the craziest thing I'd ever done in my life. Little did I know that I'd be repeating that insanity when I said yes to this show," says the 47-year-old.

"And guess what? When I did the bungee jump, I had no idea what to expect and I jumped with my eyes wide open. I forgot to scream. History is repeating itself."

In his first proper foray into stand-up comedy, he is strutting his stuff amid some tough competition.

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  • WHERE: Esplanade Theatre, 1 Esplanade Drive

    WHEN: Oct 26 to Nov 6, 8pm (Tuesdays to Saturdays), 3pm(Saturdays and Sundays)

    ADMISSION: $58 to $158 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

Big names abound in Dream Academy's third run of its laugh-a-minute stand-up comedy evening, which runs at the Esplanade Theatre from Oct 26 to Nov 6.

Happy Ever Laughter will let loose on stage a stable of Singapore comic icons, from theatre darling Siti Khalijah to drag queen Kumar.

The line-up of 11 comedians this year includes eight returning favourites such as Judee Tan, Sebastian "Broadway Beng" Tan and Fakkah Fuzz. There are three newbies: Suhaimi, radio deejay and YouTuber Dee Kosh and actress Patricia Mok.

Suhaimi, who is well known for his television roles as "mat rock" reporter Jojo Joget on satire programme The Noose and Sergeant Dollah from the sitcom Police & Thief, jokes that working on his script has "burned three-quarters of my brain".

"The greatest challenge I have for stand-up comedy, as opposed to a television series, is that I've got only five seconds to throw in the punchline to get the laughs," he says.

To cobble together his script, he did not just dig through old photo albums for a look back at his life, but also wandered the streets, chatting with uncles at coffee shops.

He quips: "It's like observing life itself... I think I'm ready to work for the CIA."

And he is ready to dig deep for his turn on Happy Ever Laughter. He will, he says cheekily, "unveil some secrets that even my wife doesn't know".

Meanwhile, Dee Kosh - another newbie to the Happy Ever Laughter stage - says he spent time gazing into the mirror for inspiration.

"I feel like a lot of different people have different perceptions of who I am, whether it's the Dee Kosh on radio or the Dee Kosh on YouTube. Different people have different ideas," he says.

"This time, I'm going to set the record straight. That's what the script is like. Me taking everything you think you've heard about whatever and setting the record straight, while making you pee in your pants, laughing."

The 27-year-old, who is a fan of the show, says having the opportunity to share the stage with veterans is overwhelming.

"When I heard about the line-up this year, I honestly felt like backing out at the last minute. We've got Siti and Judee - I adore them - and the great Kumar on the list," he says. "It's nerve-racking being in the shadow of these great comedians. I've got advice from my friend Fakkah Fuzz, who is on the show as well."

He adds: "Everyone is saying 'Don't worry, you'll do fine', but they don't understand my nerves.

"I feel like this is the first time I'm giving birth. I don't know what to expect."

This year marks a series of firsts for Happy Ever Laughter too. Dream Academy founder Selena Tan - who will step in for Kumar for the shows on Deepavali, which falls on Oct 29 - is usually the director, but this time she is handing the reins to Hossan Leong.

Leong, the "original Singapore Funny Boy", was the natural choice for her.

"He's also by nature super fun, adventurous and connected - up, down and sideways - so he is definitely the guy to bring you good local humour that's hilariously relevant," says Tan, 45.

And for the first time, too, Happy Ever Laughter will have a theme: Laughter is the best medicine.

Leong, who is performing in the show as well, says: "As cliched as it sounds, in this current climate of fear, distress and worldwide gloom, I thought laughter would be a great way to look up and be positive - at least for those two hours."

Nothing is safe in the hands of these comedians. They will take on a ragtag mix of topics that ranges from race to health issues, including, "who should be our next 'Indian chief'", says Leong, 47.

"I'm working with friends and colleagues, most of whom I hold in high regard and have the highest respect for," he adds.

"With three Malays, 31/2 Indians and 41/2 Chinese in the cast, it's like racial harmony day… every day."

Meanwhile, Tan also has big plans up her sleeve for Happy Ever Laughter. She hopes to take it on a world tour one day, to "spread Singapore humour overseas".

"But it takes quite a lot of doing, so any help at all is welcome."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2016, with the headline 'A jump into insanity'. Print Edition | Subscribe