Joanne Kam—Going on Strong
Joanne Kam has made audiences laugh from the stage and the screen. But where is she headed next?
For International Women’s Day, we had the privilege of talking to the three Queens of Asia Comedy. We got to know about how they’re getting back to what they do best—spreading joy — and how they bring a piece of home wherever they go. This is part two of three interviews. You can also read our conversations with Aditi Mittal and Yumi Nagashima too.
‘And ladies, don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re past your prime.’
Michelle Yeoh said that when she accepted her Oscar statuette—Joanne Kam certainly knows a thing or two about that. Her bio on her Instagram says it all: stand-up comedy, emcee, actor, radio announcer; and on top of all that, a mother.
From her first foray into show business at Haw Par Villa when she was only 19, to her becoming a multi-hyphenate, Joanne Kam has moved from success to success. She garnered several awards for HBO’s ‘Grisse’ and critical acclaim for ‘La La Lian’, her own autobiographical show. She doesn’t let anything stop her. But where will she go next?
As Joanne Kam gets back to what she loves best, we catch up with her, and see where she’s headed as we shed off our pandemic years.
Bask in Joanne Kam’s irrevent humour at the Queens of Asia Comedy show at Projector X Picturehouse! Use the code MetroResVIP for 20% (!!) off, only on the Fever app on iOS or Android.
*The conversation below has been edited for clarity.
You moved to Singapore to start working in showbusiness. How did crossing the causeway and finding a new life there shape who you are as an artist?
‘I was 19 when I moved to Singapore to join a theme park—Haw Par Villa, to be precise. I was just after high school & was working part-time as a clinic nurse. I saw the audition in the newspaper & went for it. When I got that job & made the decision to move to Singapore at 19, I knew it was the start of something phenomenal. It was literally the start of my life in the entertainment world.’
Then do you remember what was your first apartment like in Singapore?
‘It wasn’t an apartment. I rented a room in an HDB flat from a Malay family. The family were very kind. In the room, I had a bed, a TV, a VCR player and a wall phone in my bedroom (yes, no handphones yet – we had pagers!) They had put a wall phone in my room in case I get calls. I loved it because they always made a little extra food for me to eat when I got home, even though they did not have to.’
Which has the tougher crowd, Malaysia or Singapore?
‘Singapore, unfortunately. I think Malaysians love to laugh about themselves and we aren’t so serious. I think Singapore is a great crowd, you just need to know how to loosen them up a bit.’
Where is your favourite destination to do comedy in Asia?
‘I LOVE KUCHING & LABUAN! I think because they don’t get an abundance of comedy there regularly. So when they do get it, it’s like an explosion of appreciation.’
What do you think people always get wrong about comedy, especially in this day and age?
‘Cancel culture kills comedy. ‘Nuff said.‘
What advice do you have for aspiring comedians who are looking to break into the touring circuit, and how do you think they can prepare themselves for life on the road?
‘It can be tiring but the experience is amazing. Keep strong, ask for spots. And if you ‘die’, pick yourself up because the next day literally is another day. Find your squad, the universe will bring people together, just trust.’
So you have travelled, and you have done. It. all! What do you want to do next?
‘My movie. It will be about how a shy pimple face girl who was afraid of boys & sports grew up to be a QUEEN in her own right. Oh, that and my very own CLUB!’
What are the 3 things you must bring when you go on a tour that reminds you of home?
‘My 3 essentials for everywhere I go: My Super Bra. It’s not a wonder bra because this one has superpowers, I swear! Because it can make my boobs look like chest eruptions. And my body shaper corset. My phone and the charger.’
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