Another touch of Douglas

Five days into the 12th Johor Baru Arts Festival, the fest was officially launched on Sept 15 by royal patron, Johor princess, Yang Amat Mulia Paduka Puteri Tunku Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, in the presence of event sponsors and invited guests.

Douglas Lim entertains as the Princess [Right] laughs!
At the official launch, guests were given a flashback to the series of festivals organised by the Johor Society of Performing Arts (JSPA) under the Johor Baru: International Festival City (JB:IFC) initiative.

The vision of JSPA and how JB:IFC aims to position JB as a festival city in the region with a calendar of arts, musical, cultural and lifestyle events, was presented by Mercy Sue Cherian and Chloe Yap.

Founder of JSPA, Yap Siong Cheng, also reflected on how much the JBAF has developed since it started 12 years ago and was upbeat about the new venue at the Mall at Medini which provided the space for a range of events including visual and performing arts.

Royal patron, Tunku Aminah [Centre] with Kuah Jen-han
[Left] and Douglas Lim at the 12th JBAF launch event
In her speech, the royal patron Tunku Aminah, congratulated the organisers and expressed her appreciation for their effort in bringing the arts fest to the next level by presenting a host of renowned talents and acts in the 12th edition.

There will be no show without sponsors so the next part of the event involved much posing and photo-taking to record how mock gift cheques from the premium partners, supporting partners and main sponsors were presented to the organisers.

With the formal part of the event out of the way, I could feel a subtle shift in the air as the guests settled back in their seats to be entertained by comedians from the Malaysian Association of Chinese Comedians, also known as the other MACC.

Members of MACC, [Left to Right] Kuah Jen-han, Douglas
Lim and Dr Jason Leong, taking a selfie with the audience
Having been invited back over and over again, the comedians from MACC are no strangers to JBAF.  This year, they have two shows lined up for Sept 16 & 17, and guests at the launch event had the privilege to enjoy a preview of their performance.

The loud applause that greeted the first set by Kuah Jen-han, proved that there must have been quite a number of fans among the sponsors and invited guests.  When Douglas Lim came on for the second set, the applause was even louder probably because he was not only more experienced but also the most irreverent of the lot!

Jen-han and Douglas did the right thing to acknowledge the presence of royalty and politely asked HRH’s permission to address her as Princess.  I’m seated right behind the row of VIP guests and could see how the Princess laughed spontaneously at their jokes, often raising her palm to cover her mouth (opened in shock!) at some of their appalling remarks!

In the signature style of stand-up comedians, Jen-han and Douglas segued from one topic to another, keeping the audience laughing rather loudly as they poked fun at the Malaysian psyche, our embarrassing odd habits and our weird interpretation of standard English words.

I’m sure everyone at the event, the Princess included, found it refreshing to laugh at ourselves especially at a time when we were enveloped in choking haze (from forest fires!) and a (figurative) dark cloud of prevailing tension, hanging over the nation.

Fans queuing up for posters autographed by the MACC
As always, these naughty Malaysian comedians joked about our nearest neighbor to the South and the Singapore Consul-General in JB, Ian Mak, who was seated among the VIP guests up front, earned my respect as he bore the brunt of their cruel jokes with grace and aplomb.

When we met outside after the show, Ian reminded me to join them at “Sons of Singapore,” the stand-up comedy show by Singaporean comedians, Rishi Budhrani, Jinx Yeo and Fakkah Fuzz, where they will show us how Singaporeans can reciprocate with their jokes about Malaysians!

In the two shows, “MACC – I want to Touch a Douglas Again!” the JBAF was filled with more fun and laughter, with audiences leaving the Black Box, shaking their heads in disbelief at the comedians’ guts and gall to poke fun at a wide range of topics and getting away with it – all in the name of comedy.

[It was much later when I read the brief intro in the Festival Guide, that I figured out what their show title was all about!  It had to do with one nervous, fresh-faced intern who mispronounced, Douglas’ name as “Dog-las” at the 9th JBAF in 2012.  I guess the comedians took this as a cue to link it to the touching-a-dog issue!]

I’m pleased that the comedians have come up with more material for their slick act presented in three sets, starting with Dr Jason Leong, followed by Jen-han and rounding off with the chief comedian himself, Douglas.

Fans posing for a photo memento with the comedians,
[Left to Right] Dr Jason Leong, Douglas Lim and Jen-han
They must be doing something right because the group seated behind me was hooting with laughter from the pre-show MACC comedy videos right to the end of the live show when the comedians took a selfie with the audience.  

I, however, observed that the local content of the jokes like colloquialisms, dialects and languages, seemed to be lost on foreigners in the audience probably because they just could not relate to it.

But the best part of the shows is how multi-racial members of the audience were united in laughing at our quirks and common issues, and ended up queuing for the comedians’ autographs and snapping photos with them for mementoes.

Thanks MACC, for reminding us to accept our idiosyncrasies and to laugh at ourselves.

No comments:

Post a Comment