Kavin Jay is undoubtedly one of the top comedians in Malaysia right now! As seen in every Malaysian news report, he is 1 of the 2 Malaysians who own a Netflix special, and yes – it is a huge deal! Because not only is he being watched by millions of people around the globe, now he joins the ranks of world famous comedians Russell Peters, Kevin Hart, Chris Tucker, Gabriel Iglesias, and many more who all have Netflix Originals.
His 1-hour long Netflix Original “Kavin Jay: Everybody Calm Down!” has been available on the video-streaming platform since February and the show is considerably well-received internationally. US entertainment site The Wrap describes him as “the best of the 3 Malaysian comedians”, while film site IndieWire praises him for “fully knows his strengths” and being “comfortable with who he is on stage and what he wants to say.”
With his recent accomplishment, Kavin is now gearing up towards his next goal, and that is a nationwide tour in August 2018 which will be his first ever solo tour after 12 years in the local comedy industry. Through his upcoming national tour, Kavin hopes that he can expand the Malaysian comedy scene locally and internationally.
Before embarking on his much-anticipated tour around Malaysia, the 38-year-old comedian decided to stop by our office for a quick (and fun) ice-breaking session. We had a great talk with him and managed to get some juicy deets about his life and career, as well as some unexpected revelations regarding the industry that many of you may not have known.
So here are 10 surprising things to know about Kavin Jay!
1. Rhod Gilbert is his comedy idol
Just a quick intro, Rhod Gilbert is an award-nominated Welsh comedian and a host at BBC Radio. Kavin admitted that Gilbert is his “favourite comedian in the entire world”, and said that if he ever becomes a comedian, he wanted to be like Gilbert.
Also, while most of Kavin’s comedy material comes from his personal experience, some of them are inspired from the 49-year-old comic. “He has this grumpy, complain-ish kind of personality which I thought very much reflected mine. So in a way, I drew inspiration from that character, which is predominantly me. I realised that character fit me well because it’s who I am.”
2. Malaysia is one of the top comic scenes in Southeast Asia
According to Kavin, Malaysia is actually one of the thriving comedy industries in Southeast Asia alongside Singapore and Philippines. Meanwhile, the biggest in Asia right now would be India and that is mainly due to its huge population (LOL).
However, Kavin believes that Malaysia has the ability to become the best in Asia, but there are some issues that need to be addressed first. “We have the ability to become the biggest in Asia very easily but a lot of time, we have a lot of hindrances (especially) in Malaysia. I think we have to address those issues first before we can actually be a global player in comedy itself.”
3. The media hinders the growth of local talents
As mentioned in the point above, Kavin believes that the media is one of the main obstacles that stop Malaysian talents from growing. Media like radio, television and newspaper don’t give enough support to local talents – especially the up and coming ones.
In his words, Kavin said that Malaysians have tons of talents who should’ve been superstars by now but they can’t sustain in the local industry as they have no platform to put out their material or showcase their talent. This is because most of the local media prefer to promote international talents as they believed that’s what the audience wants, and that applies to the comedy scene as well. “There’s nowhere to go. That’s why Netflix has to come in for us to have Netflix specials.”
4. Kavin does Malaysian stereotype, not race stereotype
As a Malaysian comedian, it is only natural that Kavin will perform on topics that he’s familiar with, like Malaysian-related things. But throughout his career, Kavin has travelled to many places like Singapore, India, Hong Kong, Australia, United Kingdom, and most recently Zimbabwe. So of course, he would worry that his jokes would not relate to people outside of Malaysia, especially the standard Malay, Chinese, Indian stereotype jokes.
So instead, he does the Malaysian stereotype jokes and put it into context. “For instance, if I make fun of Singapore, I have to explain to them (that) the relationship of Malaysia and Singapore is very much like their relationship with their neighbour. They understand that sentiment, so I make fun of the sentiment rather than make fun of the stereotype.”
5. Kavin wants to talk about his late brother
One of the main reasons why Kavin became a comedian was because of his brother. His departed brother Dheepak was a huge fan of stand-up comedy. Though Kavin too has always been intrigued by stand-up comedy, he never gave it a shot – that is until his brother passed away due to heart attack.
Kavin had a really close relationship with his brother, and many times, he wished that he could talk about him during his stand-ups. “I started comedy because of my brother, and I want to talk about my brother. A lot of times I want to talk about my brother but I can’t. You know why? Because I don’t think my family can take it. There are a lot of things about me and my brother that I want to tell especially about when he died, and the emotions I felt at that time. Although it’s not funny, it’s an honest feeling.”
6. He may be in jail if it wasn’t for his brother
Like previously mentioned, Kavin’s brother was one of the main reason why the 38-year-old started doing comedy. If it wasn’t for the former, the latter may never become who he is today. “A lot of people ask me what would I be today if I wasn’t a comedian, I’ll probably be in jail because I was so bored in life I just wanted excitement. This is my excitement now, thank god! I think that (comedy) helped put me in a place where I become a much better person.”
Kavin did his first comedy show in August 2006 at the age of 26, which was 3 months after the death of Dheepak. Looking back, Kavin thinks that he started he stand-up journey way too late, and he wished he could’ve done it sooner. “I realised that life is way too short for me to put things out and I’m very thankful that I did what I did, and eventually with everything that happened over 12 years, I’m where I am now.”
7. His family wants to believe that he is still an engineer
Kavin studied in the UK and previously worked as a marine engineer. He left his job in 2010 to pursue his comedy career. However, until recently, his parents were in complete denial and believed that Kavin was still an engineer, and that he only does comedy as a hobby.
It was only when his dad needed to buy a car and wanted Kavin to be his guarantor that Kavin had to break the news and explained to his parents that he does comedy full time and doesn’t have a pay check. “We had an argument for about 2 hours on what I do, and my mom still doesn’t get it. She still thinks it’s a hobby.” Kavin also said that his parents don’t even know what Netflix is and don’t understand the significance of Kavin having his own special.
8. His daughter seems to follow his footsteps
Unlike his parents, Kavin wants his daughter to do whatever she wants as long as she is happy. Kavin shared that recently his daughter seems to be mimicking what he does. “This is a true story that happened. A few months ago, my wife has taken her to this play place. In this play place, they have this event space with a stage and a mic. So my daughter immediately went on stage, she grabbed the mic and started talking – as though (she’s) doing comedy.”
According to Kavin, his 5-year-old daughter often watches him doing comedy. Though she doesn’t quite understand what comedy is, she knows that it is a career option. “I would like her to be what she wants to be, and I want to nurture her as much as possible, but she’s also good at math, so I’m not sure.”
9. One of his newer jokes was cut out from Netflix
In his 1-hour long Netflix Original “Kavin Jay: Everybody Calm Down”, Kavin revealed that there was this one joke that got cut out from the special. “That joke was fairly new and I wanted to include it, but I think it was a bit awkward because it was slightly undercooked. So they wanted to edit parts of the joke, but I told them that it was best if they take out the whole thing.”
The joke was 10-minute long and Kavin thinks that the special was better off without that joke. Though he didn’t mention what the joke was about, he did say that it would be included in his upcoming nationwide tour alongside other new materials.
10. Kavin hopes to break into Hollywood and have a tour in US
Having his very own international show was supposed to be the endgame for Kavin, but now that it has been checked off the list, Kavin struggles to find a new goal. “I don’t know. I’m done already la. I think I’ll go and sell fish!”
Though he isn’t quite sure what his next target would be, he does hope that one day he will eventually be able to break into Hollywood and have his very own tour in the United States. “I’m already talking to people and there are people interested to do it. It’s very exciting (but) at the same time, I’m really scared about this whole “What’s next?” thing. I know I have to step it up. That’s the hard part. You thought that you’re already here, now you have to be further up.”
Check out our exclusive interview with Kavin as the grumpy, funny man tells you more about himself!
Plus, we’re also running a contest to give Hype readers exclusive passes to the premiere night of Kavin’s “Anger Management Live Stand-Up Comedy”. Join now!