YouTube comedic duo Munah Bagharib, Hirzi Zulkiflie end their run with show at Capitol Theatre

8Q

After a decade of making Singaporeans laugh on YouTube, popular comedic duo Munah Bagharib and Hirzi Zulkiflie - better known simply as Munah and Hirzi - are going their separate ways.

While the pair, whose YouTube channel @MunahHirziOfficial has more than 145,000 subscribers, are feeling "bittersweet" about the split, they have been planning to do this for a long time, they say.

"We've had a really good run on YouTube together, but we've also wanted for awhile to try doing our own things. I'm just thankful for all the opportunities that we've been given all these years," says Hirzi, 28.

To bid their fans a proper farewell as a twin act, they will be putting on a stage show at Capitol Theatre, where they will portray nine of the most popular personas featured on their YouTube channel.

These include the nosey makcik (auntie in Malay) and two versions of the minah, a colloquial term for Malay girls.

Hirzi says with a laugh: "We're doing this show for the fans because some of them love us too much and are in denial that it's going to be over.

Munah Bagharib and Hirzi Zulkiflie (standing) of YouTube channel @MunahHirzi Official, which has more than 145,000 subscribers.
Munah Bagharib and Hirzi Zulkiflie (standing) of YouTube channel @MunahHirzi Official, which has more than 145,000 subscribers. PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

"But it's for us too, to put this part of our lives behind us. I'm nervous about the show, but that's also a good thing, because it means I really care."

The two met when they were students pursuing media management diplomas at Temasek Polytechnic.

The best friends had fun putting up guerrilla-style YouTube videos, where they would go out on the street and surprise passers-by by doing dares, such as suddenly breaking out in song and dance in the middle of Orchard Road.

What started out as "something just for fun" turned more serious when the clips quickly went viral.

It was not long before the two changed directions and started producing videos with proper concepts that "had more meaning", they say.

For example, a musical spoof video they made of Beyonce's Run The World (Girls) in 2012 was part of a call for mandatory rest days for all domestic workers in Singapore.

So, what is next for the comedic twosome?

Munah will be pursuing work in theatre, while Hirzi will be doing more writing, possibly for stand-up gigs.

Munah, 29, says: "We'll be doing different things, but we'll still be the best of friends. I've never met anyone with whom I've shared such good chemistry."

Hirzi adds: "Munah is my support system. That will never change."

1 How are you feeling about being known separately as Munah and Hirzi in the future, and not "Munah and Hirzi"?

Hirzi: It's like our generation and how we grew up watching Friends (1994-2004). A select group of people will always speak fondly of them all together, but people these days also know Jennifer Aniston as an individual actress.

  • BOOK IT / MUNAH & HIRZI LIVE: CURTAIN CALL

  • WHERE: Capitol Theatre, 11 Stamford Road

    WHEN: Jan 24, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $65 from mho10.peatix.com

2 How have the two of you managed to maintain a strong friendship while being co-workers?

Hirzi: I won't say that we haven't had our rifts, but one thing great about us is that work is work and, as soon as a shoot ends, everything is immediately reset and it's back to just being friends.

3 What do you think was the main factor for the success of your YouTube channel?

Hirzi: I think our comedy was raw and honest. And It wasn't just another template Internet channel - it was something that people could watch and relate to and maybe take something away from.

4 Which of your YouTube personas are your favourites?

Hirzi: It's so hard to choose one. But I think it's a good fight between my domestic-worker character and my minah character. Both of them have an equal amount of sass and it's always so much fun playing them.

Munah: My favourite is my minah character, just because she's got a bit of me in her. I feel most connected to her.

5 In many of your earlier videos, you would go out to do wacky dares on the streets and were not at all embarrassed by them. Does nothing faze you?

Munah: I want to say no, but that's because we always had each other. When we go out there to do something crazy, I always know there's someone doing it with me.

Hirzi: Then again, we've done these dares overseas before and we didn't have each other.

Munah: But that's why those always felt so weird.

Hirzi: Yes, like when I was in San Francisco and my friend dared me to do a Beyonce dance in public - that's when I really felt alone, and that I was a threat with my Beyonce routine.

6 You have received some negative comments from more conservative viewers for some of the content you put online. How did you deal with those comments?

Hirzi: It's good to differentiate negative but constructive feedback from just noise for noise's sake. If it's noise, then you have two options - either shut them out and ignore them or have fun and troll them in intelligent ways. Troll them at their game. It's so fun.

7 Do you look back at your videos and learn from them?

Hirzi: Yes, we do. We've looked at past videos and have been like, 'Why did we think that was okay to do? How was that funny?' But that's good, because it means we've grown. We also realised that we had really bad fashion sense back then.

Munah: We thought that our outfits were on point, all the time.

Hirzi: I can't wait to move five years down the road and laugh at what we're wearing for this interview. Like, hey, remember when I had that awful purple hair?

8 How would you like to be remembered?

Hirzi: That I stood for things. That I was not afraid to speak up for the things I believed in.

Munah: That we were resilient to anything that came our way, that nothing brought us down and we would always come back because we believed in what we did.

• Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2018, with the headline 'Makcik and minah say goodbye'. Print Edition | Subscribe