Wednesday, March 14, 2018


It takes a certain mood for me to watch stand-up comedy. Not on television, and even fewer live shows. They tend to be not very good, super narcissistic, and often I don’t enjoy their humor or think that their sarcasm is too contrived. The shows are scripted of course. It’s not so much about rudeness, but more to do with delivery and how appropriate those scathing lines are. I suppose stand-up comedians get boo-ed a lot when jokes and punch lines fall flat.

Sat down for ‘Kumar50’ with a whole lot of skepticism. Produced by Dream Academy and directed by Selena Tan, this production celebrating Kumar’s 50th birthday was predictably OTT. The fairly fun and acerbic lines were scripted by writers Joyce Arriola, Sharul Channa and Mr Miyagi. Those extravagant dresses a.k.a costumes that only Kumar could pull off, are designed by Frederick Lee. We were tickled by the Kumar50 menu at the newest outlet of New Ubin Seafood at Chijmes, but didn't want to gorge and rush through dinner before the show. We'll try it on another day.

There were four other drag queens on stage at some point for a song and dance, and plenty of lip-syncing. It was mostly one hour and ten minutes of Kumar, Kumar and Kumar. 50 years of material all about ‘me, me, me, me, me.’ An entertainer, and an industry fixture from days of Bugis Street and Boom Boom Room. Someone who’s fairly observant, delivers all these jokes on race and religion without getting censured by our straitlaced IMDA. Kumar does have pretty good comic timing, however, I can only tahan him in small doses. (And I just inhaled the last five seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race. Woah, the effort. I love Chad Michaels and Sharon Needles.)

Is Kumar still relevant at 50 years old? More than an icon and a voice for the LGBTQ community? Perhaps, to a certain generation, yes. It’s not about the age per se, it’s about the references, topics closer to the heart and what themes he chooses to focus on at this stage of his career. Be warned, his jokes are very very local, full of Singlish terms, and probably take loads of references from the era we grew up in. (i.e, those above 33 years old in 2018 and those who have gone to Boom Boom Room in its heyday.) It's very hard for his show to travel nowadays if we don't 'get' the jokes. If you were born in 1989 and beyond, I guess Kumar and his type of performances would likely be passé to you. 🤭 

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