Known for her sharp wit and risque jokes, Joanne Kam Poh Poh has certainly “Kam” a long and far way since the cabaret days at “Boom Boom Room”. And if you know exactly what I’m talking about then that means that you’ve been around for quite a bit now and you know how wildly popular Joanne Kam is in the world of stand up comedy. Sure, she burst into the stand up comedy industry more than a decade ago, but she’s still so much gold!
So, when I was told that I’d be meeting up for lunch with the Malaysian comic legend herself one fine afternoon, how could I say no? In fact, I quickly grabbed at the opportunity! Here’s what went down:
Hi Joanne! Thanks for taking time off your busy schedule to have lunch with me. For those who are not in the know, tell us a little bit of what you do.
Hi Lainey! Okay, I’m Joanne Kam Poh Poh. And when we first started stand up comedy about 24 years ago, it started from Singapore through Kumar from “Boom Boom Room”. I came down to open the “Boom Boom Room KL” about 21 years ago and that’s when stand up exploded. You know, because I was from Singapore and I was working under Kumar so his brand of humour kind of rubbed off and stuck on to me – very cabaret, very in-your-face, slightly more provocative, and a little bit more risque. It was a total entertainment package, not just stand up comedy. My ultimate goal is to make people laugh.
You’ve been called many things in the past from “hamsap” to risque, to blunt and loud. What do you think has been some of the greatest misconceptions about you?
That’s my stage character and when I do shows, that’s me – I’m a hundred times more vocal, I’m a hundred times more vulgar. But the actual me is..I’m a single mom so I have that responsibility as well. I think a lot of people have this one misconception about stand up comedians or comics because, you know, like when Robin Williams took his own life, everyone was like, “Oh my gosh so sad. Why! But he always made people laugh!”. But you see, performances are energy-giving. We give out energy and the crowd receives, and when they clap, we get energy back. There are times when we give, and give, and give, but we don’t get any back. And it’s not like we’re singing because stand up comedy is very precise. An artiste can still get up on stage, sing a song, and pour his/her heart and soul into it after a break up, and people would be like, “Wow, so much emotion!” But if you’re in stand up comedy, and if someone breaks up with you, you can’t go up on stage after and tell a sad story. People also always treat us like our characters – you need to see the stand up comedian as a performer. Each of us have got our own inner personalities because we’re people too.
For a show like “Super Kam 2: The Second Kam-ming”, what goes on in the preparations and how long do you usually take to prepare for it?
Maybe a month or 2 months, depending on how huge the production is. Like, right now, while we’re doing “Super Kam 2: The Second Kam-ming”, we’re also in the midst of rehearsals for a November show called, “A Musical Called Kam In Your Face”. That one involves 8 actors and comedians, and 6 dancers – that’s a huge show. For a good production I’d say..6 months. But for a rerun like “Super Kam 2: The Second Kam-ming”, probably 3 months or so. What you see at the end, meaning the stage product, everything that goes behind the scenes to ensure that the product gets on stage is 3 months’ worth of preparations. Everything from writing the jokes to publicity and interviews, to photo shoots and even ticket sales, all of that has to happen concurrently.
We’ve previously asked Douglas Lim this and we’ll ask you the same – do you still battle with stage fright? And if you do, how do you overcome it?
I think..when you’re on stage, you just need to wing your confidence. For me, I still get goosebumps when I have to perform for audiences that are not my usual audience like when I’m in Hong Kong or Australia. Because they’re new and I don’t know whether my Malaysian jokes would work. But when I’m on stage and I’m holding my microphone, that sort of becomes my centre. Some people pace and I’ve paced before, but I also sometimes go away in a corner to zen myself. Say a couple of prayers, imagine that I will have a good show, and just go on.
Last question! How do you usually unwind after a show like “Super Kam 2: The Second Kam-ming”? Do you usually have a hard time “coming down” from it all?
What we usually as a group is after a show, we’d all go out for supper. Then we’d just hang out and eat because we’d be very hungry after shows. We don’t usually eat before a show and even if we do, by the time the show finishes, it would have been a good 4-5 hours from when we last ate. So, yea, just drinks and food. But when I go home and I can’t sleep then, I’d put on a DVD or play with my smartphone!
Thank you so much for having lunch with me, Joanne!
Thank you so much, darling!
For more information on Joanne Kam Poh Poh’s “Super Kam 2: The Second Kam-ming”, hit up here.
Don’t forget to “stalk” her on Facebook 😉