Mixed bag of laughs

Chua Enlai is a hoot as Thai correspondent Pornsak Sukhumvit.
Chua Enlai is a hoot as Thai correspondent Pornsak Sukhumvit. PHOTO: MEDIACORP VIZPRO INTERNATIONAL

Characters from TV series The Noose provide plenty of laughs on stage, but short sets in between fail to hit the mark

On television, The Noose's irreverent take on current affairs in a riot of exaggerated accents has been winning fans since 2007. Its jump to the stage is a mixed bag of laughs as well as skits that fail to hit the mark.

Perhaps the bigger problem is the production's structure. In between skits featuring familiar characters from The Noose, six stand-up comedians from Singapore and Malaysia - the titular kakis, which is local slang for friends - helm teaser sets.

They make fun of Malaysian politics, send up racial stereotypes and take potshots at Caucasians.

Which is all well and good, in particular Kumar's abrasive and funny take on living in an HDB flat, except there is little thematic continuity between The Noose skits and the short sets.

If, as comic Rishi Budhrani says, the point of the sets is to give the cast time to change their costumes, there is actually a better solution in plain sight: Video clips are already being used, so why not simply extend them? These new clips by The Noose cast, which continue into action that unfolds on stage, work better.

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As for the main show on stage, Michelle Chong is conspicuous by her absence given that her characters - from Filipina domestic helper Leticia Bongnino to Chinese KTV hostess Lulu - were among the breakout stars of the TV show.

Still, the hardworking quartet of Chua Enlai (news anchor B.B. See, minister Wan Mo Peh), Suhaimi Yusof (field reporter Jojo Joget), Judee Tan (North Korean correspondent Kim Bong Cha, Hong Kong correspondent Rose Pork) and Alaric Tay (Chinese news anchor Xin Hua Hua) give it a good shot.

Chua, in particular, is a hoot as Thai correspondent Pornsak Sukhumvit as he investigates the impact of ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Grab. It tends to be funny when things get a little naughty and Pornsak, who is also a pole-dancing instructor, lets it rip with double entendres.

He also takes a dig at scandal-hit former MP David Ong, as does Kumar during his set.

Other topical issues the show tackles include the haze (Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla had chided neighbouring countries for not thanking them for providing 11 months of "nice air"), the City Harvest Church misuse-of-funds case and MRT train breakdowns.

But with the recent accident near a train station that claimed two lives still on our minds, a sketch about repair works taking place on the tracks cuts a little close to the bone. Perhaps it was too late for a major rewrite.

Tan, who also directs the show, acknowledges the tragedy and conveys her condolences, ending the three-hour show on an unexpectedly sombre note.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'Mixed bag of laughs'. Print Edition | Subscribe