It'll be S'pore vs Malaysia in a comedy battle at Beerfest Asia

11 June 2014 / 2 years 4 months ago

By Paige Lim
The Straits Times
Friday, Jun 06, 2014

Two Singaporean stand-up comics will have it out with two Malaysian counterparts at a beer festival next week. Sounds like a recipe for drunken bilateral aggression?

It is all in good fun, say the people behind the Singapore vs Malaysia Comedy Cup at this year's Beerfest Asia. The comedy event is the first of its kind at the annual Beerfest at Marina Promenade, which runs from June 12 to 15.

Spread over the duration of the festival, the cross-Causeway humour bust-up is part of a sideshow by The Comedy Club Asia, and will feature Singapore comedians Fakkah Fuzz (pictured) and Jinx Yeo battling it out with Malaysia's Kavin Jay and Rizal Van Geyzel. In a telephone interview, the two teams say they will play on Singaporean and Malaysian stereotypes, and make jabs and take potshots at one another.

"We view Singapore as our rich cousin who likes to show off, while Singaporeans see Malaysians as people who only know how to have fun," Kavin, 34, says with a laugh, adding that there will be a lot of pseudo-animosity between the two teams.

Besides the competition element, the four comedians will also share funny anecdotes about themselves.

Kavin, whose full name is Kavin Jayaram, and Van Geyzel are part of Malaysia's three-man comedy act The Goodflers, together with Malaysian comedian Jason Leong.

Fakkah, whose real name is Muhammad Fadzri Abdul Rashid, and Jinx Yeo are part of local three-man comedy act The Sons of Singapore, together with local comedian Rishi Budhrani. While the two teams will be at one another's throats during the face-off, the four comedians are actually good friends.

They work together frequently and stay at one another's houses when they travel across the Causeway to perform.

Chief creative director of Timbre Group and Beerfest Asia 2014, Mr Danny Loong, 42, says: "We were always keen to work on a friendly play-off regarding the neighbourly rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia. It will be a good opportunity for the audience to understand and better appreciate each others' cultures and where we stand on humour."

The comedy scene in Malaysia and Singapore has been growing by leaps and bounds over the years.

Kavin says: "I can easily get a show three to four times a week now, as compared to a few years ago where I could not even get one a week."

He estimates that there are currently about 30 full-time comedians in Malaysia, up from only 10 four years ago.

He and Van Geyzel started One Mic Stand, Malaysia's first weekly open mic night, which celebrated its second anniversary last week.

Similarly, the Singaporean comedy scene began picking up in 2010 when weekly stand-up comedy shows Talk Cock Comedy by The Comedy Club Asia and Comedy Masala were introduced.

Fadzri, 27, who hosts his own stand-up comedy night, Fridays With Fuzz, every Friday at The Butter Factory, says: "When I started out in 2009, I would perform in all sorts of obscure venues because there were not enough places."

Yeo, 34, who started doing comedy in late 2010, says: "Comedy in Singapore has really taken off over the past few years. There used to be only Kumar and Hossan Leong five years back but the number of local comedians has since increased."

He adds that there are about 25 to 30 local comedians on the scene now. While Van Geyzel admits that his team will be coming into the Singapore vs Malaysia Comedy Cup as underdogs without homeground advantage, he is nevertheless still excited to be on stage in Singapore.

"All jokes aside, Singapore is such a vibrant place and the people here are as warm and lively as those in Kuala Lumpur," he says.

At the end of the day, the four comedians unanimously agree that the competition comes second - all they really want is for the audience to have a great time.

Yeo says: "We are going to do our best on stage but it really isn't important who wins. It's about the audience getting their entertainment and we want to make it a fun show for everyone."

Beerfest Asia features beers from around the world, along with talks, live music and comedy shows for visitors.

Mr Loong says: "Beerfest Asia festival attendees always look forward to the comedy shows that we have onsite. The Singapore and Malaysia face-off is something we have been working on for two years and I'm really glad it's going to take off this year."

This year's Beerfest Comedy Club will also be headlined by international comedy acts - New Zealand's Brendhan Lovegrove and India's Papa CJ. Seven shows will be performed over three days.

The Comedy Club Asia and Beerfest Asia are collaborating for the fourth year. The first three editions of the event saw more than 5,000 people attending its sold-out shows.

Since its first show in Singapore in 2009, The Comedy Club Asia has spread to neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia.

It was voted the Best Comedy Club in South-east Asia in 2012, and flies in three international acts to perform in the region each month. 

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