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Happy Ever Laughter

June 29, 2012

Event: Happy Ever Laughter
Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Run: 27th June – 8th July 2012

Stand-Up For Singapore

When I first heard about the concept of Dream Academy’s “Happy Ever Laughter” a few months back, I wondered if it would work.

Even though I can’t quite remember if something like this has ever been attempted before, especially on a scale like this, it’s quite a simple concept if you think about it – gather a group of top-notch actors and get them to each take turns to do a short stand-up routine of their own.

Plain and simple.

There is no overlap of segments and the actors do not interact with one another throughout the show.

There is one static set, and each actor would come on stage, do their solo bit, and boom…they’re off.

Basically a local all-star comedy night if you will, albeit at the posh Esplanade Theatre and with tickets ranging from $37 to $117.

The quality of talent on offer is unquestioned – who can argue with a lineup which boasts the likes of Selena Tan, Moses Lim, Chua Enlai, Siti Khalijah, Michelle Chong, Judee Tan, Kumar, Sebastian Tan, Gurmit Singh, Najip Ali and so on?

The topics covered ran the gamut of all that is close to the hearts of Singaporeans, from politics to food to medicine to cultural and racial differences.

Selena Tan kicked things off with a rant on local politics and last year’s two elections, and although one was tempted to roll one’s eyes at yet another attempt to flog the proverbial dead horse (which has been flogged to silly extents by now), she did it with so much enthusiasm and charm that all was forgiven.

Besides, it was just as well that we cleared this obligatory topic out of the way right at the beginning so that the show could move on to the other topics.

Judee Tan was once again outstanding as the incomparable TCM (“Teo Chew Muay”) character which had previously slayed audiences in each of her past two appearances on “The Hossan Leong Show”.

If you’ve never seen this fabled character in action on stage before, you are well advised to do yourself a favour and witness this truly remarkable creation, quite possibly the best comical theatrical creation we’ve ever seen on a local stage.

Sebastian Tan, reprising his ever-popular persona of Broadway Beng, gamely takes jabs at himself over his recent weight gain and new-found man boobs, and gamely, er, milks the topic for all it is worth.

Perhaps the best receptions were reserved for Michelle Chong, who closed the first act, and Kumar, who closed the show.

Michelle Chong, probably the biggest star of the show thanks to her TV and movie fame, was resplendent in her pink outfit and donned the persona of a new character named “Salmonella” (don’t ask), who is apparently the Vice-President of the SPG club, of which Barbarella (of “The Noose” fame) is the President.

Kumar, who wasn’t too shabby in his white outfit either, was his usual zany and deadpan self with his monologue on property agents, old folks homes, drag queens and so on.

The material in “Happy Ever Laughter” was generally very strong, and the programme credits Edmund Shern, Mr Miyagi, Goh Jer Liang and Jasmine Teo as the chief writers, although material was also contributed by many of the cast members as well.

Although some monologues might have left a deeper impression than others, on the whole everyone had something to offer.

If this was a compilation hits album, then there certainly were no B-sides.

You could see that some attempt had been made to incorporate the very latest hot-button topics such as the CHC saga into the show, and although credit must be given for its recency, I felt that at times the jokes on the pastor and his wife bordered on insensitivity and also went a tad overboard.

Nonetheless, judging by the audience turnout tonight, Dream Academy might just have found itself with yet another lucrative theatrical franchise on its hands.

Will there be subsequent installments of “Happy Ever Laughter”?

Who knows, but one thing’s for sure – we Singaporeans love to laugh at ourselves, and can never get enough of such comedy shows.

It might be early days yet, but if Dream Academy’s “Happy Ever Laughter” goes on to become an unqualified success, then perhaps it just might be the perfect fairy tale ending for one and all.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. cow138 permalink
    June 30, 2012 11:56 pm

    Valiant first effort. Still got room for improvement. All the individual segments felt a bit short. The audience didn’t have much time to get around the jokes before the next routine came on.

    The happiness theme was not really emphasized. It was thrown out in one segment and then had no mention in the next. It gave the impression of some disjointed transistion between sets.

  2. July 9, 2012 11:38 am

    Happy Ever Laughter demonstrates that some characters are better on screen than off, not everyone has the calibre to be a stand-up comedian. Kudos to Selena Tan and Judee Tan, who both made the show worthwhile. Substance is needed, not just plain superficial outdated nuance or slew of vulgarities, to keep your new age audience engaged. The good family man image of one supposedly comical chap has gone down the drain, yes, just that mere 5 minutes was all that’s needed to wipe out his make believe good. His act was distasteful and he was not alone, to say the least. Sadly.


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