Just Whack Only is a stand up comedy show featuring three fans of the local open mic comedy scene who are now standing up for themselves and a shot at fame. These three newcomers to the world of comedy are Sim Tong (42, property investment), Aiman Azri (26, head editor) and Aw Yuong Tuck (21, student).
Hype.My speaks to Sim, Aiman and Tuck in an exclusive interview to give fans an insight into what they can expect from Just Whack Only.
What made you decide to try your hand at stand up comedy?
Sim: I’ve always been a fan of stand up comedy but never thought I would ever be able to write or perform it. One day, while reading an old blog of mine, I realised I always ended each blog entry with what I now would call a punchline. I realised that subconsciously, I’ve been trying to write comedy material but on a conscious level, out of a fear of failure, I’ve just been suppressing this side of me.
Aiman: I just thought “I could do that,” so I applied for a slot…before I came up with any jokes. Then I suddenly had a spot and all my friends knew and now I had to do it. And then I thought, since I’m doing it, I might as well try to get good at it and here I am now.
Tuck: I tried auditioning for being a Radio Jockey and also performing arts, but it didn’t work out as well. So I tried stand-up and I live happily ever after. What to do, this is my best trait yet!
Tell us about how you guys met at One Mic Stand, Malaysia’s only weekly comedy open mic night at PJ Live Arts, Jaya One.
Aiman: I saw Tuck regularly when I watched him, he was dubbed “The Chinaboy” among my friends. We got on the lineup together. Sim debuted on a One Mic Stand in the slot before mine, and that’s how I met him. Coincidentally, we both decided to do explicit material so it was back to back shock and awe.
Sim: Actually, I watched the show a week before I went on stage for the first time. Tuck was on that night and he killed it. The following week, I jumped on stage. Although I was nervous, a bunch of people told me I did well. One of them was Aiman. After the show, we went out for supper. As soon as we sat down, Tuck said, “So what do you guys think of the show?” and before anyone could answer, he immediately continued with “This is what I think…”
Do you write your jokes before your show or do you come up with them spontaneously?
Sim: I always prefer to write my jokes out down to the last word. I may not perform it exactly the same way I wrote it, but the joke has to sound funny on paper before I dare to perform it on stage.
Aiman: I prefer writing the ideas for the jokes down. Sometimes, if I think I have the perfect punchline, I write them in a full sentence, but normally it’s just the rough idea. My notes can look something like “fairy tales, superhero, evolution, close with song,” especially for sets I’m familiar with. If I’m trying out a new set, I’ll probably have it written down, but I’ll take a decision on stage to go with what I’ve prepared or to see if I can try working it out spontaneously.
Tuck: I prefer to write my jokes and test it out before I actually perform on stage. And I like to write down all the spontaneous jokes I make everyday, and try to expand it for a set. But yeah, I don’t spontaneously come up with jokes. And it’s also like being a student, we always do last minute work!
What influences your jokes?
Aiman: Life in general. Particularly tragedy and failure. Cause if I fail, I want to laugh at it, dammit.
Tuck: SURE MY MOTHER LAH. IF NOT WHO ELSE?
Sim: A lot of my material comes from frustrations. Every time I’m annoyed, I tell myself there’s a joke in here somewhere. Then I write it down and try it out and ultimately, the audience is the biggest influence. Their reaction decides the fate of each new joke.
Are the materials of your jokes influenced by your day job? If yes, how so?
Sim: Not often. I always have this fear that people from work might turn up at one of the shows. But I’m constantly taking notes, so who knows, one day I might write a show about problems in the office.
Aiman: Not really. I wish it did, that’s a big chunk of my weekday. But no. My relationships though….
Tuck: More like the pretty girls I see during my day job as a student now.
Does the age gap matter?
Aiman: Age is only a number, but I’ve been told that doesn’t hold up in court. Seriously though, the gap itself doesn’t matter, but I think where you are in life matters. And the three of us are in different stages of our life. Sim’s settled down, I’m trying to find my life’s goal, and Tuck’s finishing up his studies.
Sim: It does and it doesn’t. I’m much older than Tuck and Aiman yet when we get together, we’re like 3 kids talking about their favourite cartoon. We hardly talk about anything other than comedy, so in that respect we’re all the same age because we started out at about the same time. But in the content of our conversation, we sometimes discuss age because it matters to the audience. I have great respect for people who start doing comedy in their twenties because it took me an extra twenty years before I was able to overcome all my inhibitions.
You went from being a fan to being a comedian. Must be exciting. Do tell us about your experience and what it feels like.
Sim: It is exciting! It’s surreal because it was only a little over a year ago that I was watching video clips of Rizal Van Geyzel and Kavin Jayaram and I was in awe of what they did. I told myself I could never do that. Now I am on their show (One Mic Stand) every other week, trying to make them laugh. When a set goes well, it feels great. You get everyone laughing, then you get off the stage and the other comedians are giving you all sorts of handshakes and fistbumps and sometimes audience members come up and tell you they liked your performance. I’m pretty narcissistic. I remember every positive thing that they say about me. I really need it, because when I bomb, its a terrible feeling and the doubts start to come back and a little voice says maybe I’m just trying to be someone I’m not.
Aiman: It was great getting to meet so many different people. A sense of humour is tied very much to the identity of a person, so the kind of connections you make with comedians is a little bit deeper than most. We’ve got a tight-knit group of comedians here, particularly the current batch of up-and-comers.
Who are your favourite comedians?
Sim: Jit Murad, Harith Iskander, Douglas Lim, Kuan Jenhan, Patrick Teoh, Rizal Van Geyzel, Kavin Jayaram, Phoon Chi Ho, Jason Leong, … I realise I’m just listing all my friends now. Once you name one, you have to name them all.
Aiman: Jimmy Carr, Michael McIntyre, Louis CK, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Wright, Hannibal Buress, Kevin Hart. I’ve seen none of them live though 🙁
Tuck: Simon Amstell, Louis CK, Dayo Wong (Cantonese Comedian), and all of the comedians Sim just mentioned.
What can the readers of Hype.My expect from your show Just Whack Only?
Aiman: Anyone who comes should come with no prejudices. The three of us all have unique styles, and it’ll be best if you were to leave your morals, judgments and biases at the entrance. Don’t worry, you can pick them up as you leave.
Sim: Expect the unexpected.
And with that we conclude the interview! Thanks guys!
Be sure to catch these three comedians at their show Just Whack Only this Wednesday, 2nd October 2013 and Thursday, 3rd October 2013.
For those interested, details are as follows:
Dates: 2nd October 2013(Wednesday), 3rd October 2013 (Thursday)
Venue: Cabaret, PJ Live Arts
Tickets: RM20, www.tix.my