Familiar faces in Malaysia’s comedy circuit, funnymen Kavin Jay and Rizal Van Geyzel are paving the way for aspiring comedians with One Mic Stand, an open mic night for emerging artists to hone their craft. Find out what makes them laugh, how they became comedians and their aspirations for stand-up comedy in Malaysia.
Compiled by: Chitra S.
Have you always wanted to be a comedian?
KAVIN JAY (KJ): Yes, I have, but my parents wanted me to be an engineer so, I made them happy and got my papers. At the ripe age of 26, I finally took my late brother’s advice that it was never too late to chase my dream and, pursued stand-up comedy. My first performance was in front of 150 of my friends. I got them together and started telling jokes. I haven’t looked back since.
Can being funny be taught?
RIZAL VAN GEYZEL (RV): There’s a certain kind of funny that can’t be taught and then there’s humour that can. Being naturally funny certainly helps but like any other pursuit, you have to work at it. Even if it comes naturally, it doesn’t mean you work any less at improving your routines.
How do you come up with the material?
KJ: I’m inspired mainly by the conversations I have with family and friends. I swear they say the darnest things and their conversations are a comedic goldmine. I also read the papers every day. Seriously, the daily news is FILLED with comedy!
Was your family supportive of your decision of wanting to be a comedian?
RV: I never officially sat them down and announced what I wanted to do. I just went ahead and did it. My dad was a little discouraging at first, but now, after watching me, he tries to dish me some jokes for the stage.
Do people expect you to be funny all the time?
KJ: Actually, yes. But, I’d rather keep the jokes to a minimum especially with people I don’t really know because I don’t want them to think I’m annoying. I’m a loud-mouthed, quick thinking guy and my stage persona is the amplification of who I am in real life.
Do you get nervous before a performance?
RV: I do get the nerves before shows and I think that’s just pent up energy waiting to be released. Breathing always helps. In fact, my nerves need more calming right after I get off the stage, after the rush of adrenalin from the show.
What happens when audience don’t laugh at your jokes?
KJ: I used to panic but now I’ve learnt to own up to an unfunny gag and that usually gets a laugh. There are many occasions where the audience is completely disinterested and I just go through my material and learn what gets their attention.
Where do you see stand-up comedy in Malaysia in five years time?
RV: I’d like to see the audience more open to the idea of stand-up as live entertainment. We should be aiming for full house shows and, for more Malaysian comics making it big internationally.
What’s the future like for One Mic Stand?
KJ: Stand-up comedy is very much in its infancy in Malaysia and there are not enough comedians to go around. With One Mic Stand, there are more comedians coming out of the woodwork and the show gives them the opportunity to shine. That was an option I didn’t have when I started out.
Who inspires you?
RV: People who aren’t afraid to do what their heart tells them to no matter their chosen field. People who are unafraid to pursue their dreams always inspire me.
Who or what makes you laugh?
KJ: Things that make me laugh are things that are not meant to be funny, but are. My wife makes me laugh every day, although she never intends to. For example, while driving up to a gig one day, she commented on the shrubbery covering a road sign: ‘How can they allow these things… what if the driver was blind?!’
What advice would you give aspiring comedians?
RV: Keep it real, interesting and above all, funny. Don’t steal jokes.
What is the most satisfying aspect of stand-up comedy?
KJ: The laughter at the end of a joke is instant gratification. You work on a comedy piece for a while, polish and rewrite it, and when it becomes what comedians call ‘gold’, you feel a sense of accomplishment that cannot be described. There are few professions where you are rewarded with applause every time you do something right.
Visit www.pjlivearts.my for details on ONE MIC STAND performances.