When: July 19-29, 8.30pm
Where: The indicine, The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre
Tickets: RM60, with concessions
For mature audiences only.
COMEDY is on the menu for indicineliVe!, says its artistic director Kelvin Wong. Last seen in 2012 at the now-defunct The Actors Studio @ Lot 10, Wong says that laughter is “almost” guaranteed.
“Most importantly, we’re laughing at ourselves. We need to. As an aspiring, and perhaps sometimes angry, new nation,” says Wong, who is currently heading the performing arts programme at Sunway University, under its Department of Performance and Media.
Says the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre’s Datuk Faridah Merican: “IndicineliVe! is a Malaysian brand of great humour. With the fun Malaysia has been dishing out over the years, this will be a sure hit.”
Wong, one of the drivers behind this fifth instalment of indicineliVe!, says the revue is being revived “not for the sake of nostalgia, but because sketch comedy (and comedy in general) is such an essential avenue for subtle and not-so-subtle jabs at politics, our society and culture, and what still needs to be scrutinised in the here and now.”
“Hopefully when our audience laugh, they’ll ask themselves why they laugh too.
“Often there’s something truthful — even uncomfortable and painful — underneath. The way forward as a society is to come to terms with this discomfort and pain.”
The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat production is a two-week run starting July 19, with a total of 23 pieces of varying duration, written by alumni Ariff Kamil, Freddy Tan and Tung Jit Yang, with newcomers Veshalini Naidu and Terence Toh.
Performers include Ariff, Dinesh Kumar, Jeremy Ooi and Nur Zakuan, with seasoned newcomers from the Kuala Lumpur theatre scene including Amanda Ang, Lee Min Hui, Alfred Loh, Adry Nasution, Kamini Senthilathiban and Gregory Sze.
Says Wong: “It’s interesting that our writing process for the upcoming episode began right after the recent general election. Our initial response (and worry) was, okay, so what and who do we poke fun at now?
“Over time we realised there’s still much — if not much more, to bring forth for public scrutiny. “The pieces range from familiar situational and character sketches, to more intricate song parodies and choreographed works of a more physical nature.
“It’s a revue, so there’s much variety, even different types of comedy. There are more than 80 different characters in total. It’s also impossible to guess what comes next, and that’s also an exciting part of the show.
“These pieces are written by a group of 6 writers, and the actors would continue tweaking them during rehearsals. What the audience will experience is the collaborative result of the entire ensemble.”
On the toughest part so far, he says it’s about the choice of the pieces.
“That’s the thing with sketch comedy — choosing pieces that are both timeless, and being able to tweak pieces which are time-sensitive. The latter are the ones that are a bit of a headache, because these are dependent on what’s currently happening in our nation.
“What is funny now might not be as funny later — certain sketches can quickly be dated. As director, I’m consistently mindful of that.”
On any song-and-dance segments, Wong says back when it began, there are many songs to make parodies from. “However, current mainstream hits feature artistes who speak over songs (and they do it almost inaudibly) rather than actual singing, so that’s been a challenge.
“In this sense, our final selection of song parodies are varied across time — some are current, some are evergreen, but we hope the majority of our audience would recognise them.
“Having gone through our song selections also have given us an insight on how quickly generations change. Most of the ensemble are early millennials (of 25 to 35 years) and we’re wondering if Gen-Z audiences (those aged 18 to 21) would catch on to our approach to comedy.”
And the proof of the pudding is in its eating, as they say.