Happy on his own

Spending quality time alone with his two cats, Kuah Jenhan has tuned out of the ‘noise’ on social media

14 May 2020 / 12:43 H.

HE WAS a newspaper columnist and wrote the script for the theatre production of Lat The Kampung Boy.

However, for the past few years, Kuah Jenhan has decided to concentrate fully on live stand-up comedy shows.

When we began our interview, Kuah said: “I was actually severely introverted by nature.

“I think people get confused between being introverted and being anti-social. I believe there is a difference.

“If someone is anti-social, they are no fun to be around. They just don’t socialise for whatever reason. I believe that introverts are just different. They just get tired when they spend too much time interacting.”

Kuah felt that talking about introverts and extroverts would be an interesting topic during the movement control order (MCO), because it is during these times that we notice the difference.

“An extrovert gets energised by doing social activites. All that has almost ground to a halt for them. They can only rely on the internet.

“Introverts are fine with both but that doesn’t mean everything is great. It doesn’t mean we don’t like to talk to people. It tires us out faster.”

Kuah pointed out the overwhelming amount of content put up by extroverts on social media.

“Everyone is a Jimmy Fallon, everyone is a Gordon Ramsey, everyone is a fitness guru. I find it very odd, but I noticed my usage of social media has dwindled down during lockdown. The internet has become a noisier place for me,” said Kuah.

He said that he finds the sudden drive to put things up on the internet odd, because it is a two-way street when it comes to reactions.

“So I am just surprised with the sudden need to do something. I am guessing it fulfils a social need, like when you have a conversation at the table, it is your extroverted friends who are really loud.

“I enjoy talking to friends, I enjoy criticising, but the internet is very daunting for me now.”

Last year was the 10th anniversary of the Malaysian Association of Chinese Comedians (MACC) that was formed by Kuah, Dr Jason Leong, Douglas Lim and Phoon Chi Ho.

Kuah performing during the MACC Goodbye Tour. – AllIsAmazing
Kuah performing during the MACC Goodbye Tour. – AllIsAmazing

“On our tenth anniversary last year we had a goodbye tour before we disbanded. That is a separate brand that [speaks] to a different demographic; they are used to certain kind of jokes, and the audience likes the camaraderie that exists between the MACC members.

“Douglas and Jason deal a lot with current affairs. By nature, they are interested in current affairs and want to comment on it as soon as they can. Chi Ho is also like that, but I am not.

“Those who follow me on my shows and the ones with MACC, the one thing they would notice is I pretty much never talk about current affairs. Most of my material comes from observations or experiences.”

He had plans to put on his own solo stand-up comedy shows this year but the pandemic forced him to scrap those plans.

“In the past when I wrote for a solo show, I would do a few test shows here, and then I would bring it to Australia for a month. I never really staged anything properly in KL other than the MACC shows.”

He has no idea when he will get to perform on stage again.

“Jason and I produced the last MACC shows. I filmed two shows around that. I filmed a live show, and a six-episode series around the MACC. That is supposed to be out on Astro.

“What I am currently doing at home is working on those shows. I directed them and I have been busy editing during the lockdown. I usually work with an editor, and I would rather be working with him in the editing suite. But now due to the lockdown everything has to be remote.”

Kuah has tried his hand at Malay stand-up comedy in the past.

At that time the stand-up comedy genre was something Malay audiences were not familiar with, as it was more common for duo or trios to perform comedy sketches.

“One of the things I noticed then was that they were very amused I was talking to them. It is a different genre, a different art form.

“There is a pretty active Malay comedy scene. I would say they are very brave and very good because they are going against the grain. They are trying to perform stand-up in an industry that barely knows what stand-up is, and they are being pioneers.

“The English comedy scene is much more mature, and for these stand-up comedians they perform in English to get better. That has created a lovely symbiotic relationship where you have English-speaking comedians also wanting to try Malay stand-up.”

Kuah always felt that stand-up comedy is a fair platform. Any comedian regardless of experience will have the same chance (of making the audience laugh) as a newcomer.

“Every time you go on stage you are judged the same. I have performed for 12 or 13 years, and I have written jokes. Then there will be this guy or girl who is enouraged by their friends to go on stage and tell some jokes. If my jokes turn out bad and theirs work, that night they are funnier than me.

“The only way to learn and improve, is to keep doing stand-up.”

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