YOU know it’s going to be an evening of in-your-face, unapologetic and unabashedly raunchy entertainment the moment Joanne Kam Poh Poh steps onto the stage.
Without wasting a second, the “queen” of risqué comedy refers to her famous (or infamous) physical assets, which have served her repertoire well over the years. Kam has long worked out that perfectly timed routine; she knows what her audience wants.
On cue, the audience on the first night of Kam… In Your Face 2 — the sequel to Kam… In Your Face which premiered in 2008 — laughs uproariously, more than ready to be titillated by the song and dance variety comedy show.
The musical cabaret-esque show features the unlikeliest of singing talents, including stand-up comedians Papi Zak, Kavin Jay and Shamaine Othman, alongside actual singer Vince Chong — who nonetheless displayed worthy comedic ability — as well as some fresh faces: Miss Malaysia Universe 2014 first runner-up Lalita Monisha, singer-songwriter Michael Lean and Capital FM presenter Ashley Chan.
It could well be a calculated comedic move, but what you get when a group of comedians attempts to sing and dance is automatic laughter, especially with an over-indulgent crowd. In this respect, Papi Zak and Kavin Jay steal the show each time they burst out in an awkward dance move, often intensified by the contrast with Chong’s more polished talents.
Covering genres that include 1980’s pop, Bollywood, EDM (electronic dance music) and a slew of current hits — the reworked tunes by a young Daniel Veerapen paired with choreography by veteran showbiz choreographer Michael Tan, along with director Llewellyn Marsh’s vision, fits with the concept of the show, which may be underwhelming in a larger setting, but suits the cosy space of the PJ Live Arts theatre.
Of course, the parodies were the highlight, including a very rude rework of Let’s Have a Kiki by the Scissor Sisters, only doable by Kam and the very talented Shamaine. The cast was also inspired by music north of Malaysia, and did an English version of the Thai-pop hit Splash Out by Kamikaze.
While lacking polish and showing nerves more often than it should, the cast was easily forgiven by the audience the cast. Somehow these add to the informal and intimate mood.
Though the vocals and lack of audibility of the songs were distracting, the token singing “divas” of the show, Lalitha and Chan gave decent performances, but without a doubt Kam… In Your Face 2 was musically held together by Chong, the most experienced and skilful singer of the lot.
Chong, who took the first Akademi Fantasia winner title, also held his own in comedic prowess, impressing in the skit segments, be it playing the cartoonish host in the “Morning After Show” segment, or acting out an Indian bad-boy persona in “Sensitive Men” with a natural ease.
Perhaps the show could have benefited more from comedy skits, which were really what truly shined. Credit here has to go to Shamaine, whose skits were refreshingly clever and creative, with some hilariously solid punch lines.
Regularly partnering with Kam, who has more than once called the young comedienne her protégé, Shamaine brings a contemporary and urban touch to complement Kam’s well-trodden comedy style.
With two female comedy powerhouses helming, the boys — a very talented Papi Zak and Kevin Jay, along with newbie Chong and Lean — nonetheless stole the show more than a couple of times, displaying more than just awkward dance moves.
Featuring a wider cast and many young talents as it may be, Kam is not quite a pushover just yet. Having walked a long, solitary journey with her brash and raunchy style, it is not her jokes that have placed Kam as Malaysia’s queen of comedy, but rather — as displayed when she held court with her sheepish but adoring crowd — that ability to break down walls of pretension and make everyone equals through her comedy.
Love or loathe her, as many do, for her rude, irreverent and in-your-face routine, but the audience from all walks of life laughing hysterically with and at racy jokes about our silly racial stereotypes may just be the best proof that in the hall at least, we are all equals.
The cast posing after the show for the meet-and-greet and autograph signing session.
Kam… In Your Face 2, which is not suitable for a young audience, is showing at Petaling Jaya Live Arts (PJLA) at Jaya One every day except Mondays and Tuesdays. It will be staged every night until Nov 16, at 8.30pm. Tickets are priced at RM68, RM88 and RM108 and can be obtained from the PJLA Box Office at 017 2289 849 or online at www.tix.my
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 7, 2014.