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Dream Academy’s Happy Ever Laughter 2018: An Interview with Selena Tan

Happy Ever Laughter, Dream Academy’s biennial standup comedy spectacular, returns for its fourth outing this week, and Dream Academy artistic director Selena Tan has decided to rock the boat with a twist – a comedic battle to the death as two teams of Singapore’s best and most promising comedians vie for the rights to call themselves the nation’s funniest!

Photo Credit: Dream Academy

Says Selena: “We started Happy Ever Laughter in 2012 with the intent to create a pro-standup comedy circuit style show, bringing together a combination of both A-list comedians as well as rising comedians to the scene. This year, the format itself has changed, but you’ll still see both veterans like Kumar and Sebastian Tan go up against new faces like Preetipls.”

The 12 comedians of Happy Ever Laughter will be split into two teams: the ‘Laojiaos’ – Selena herself, Irene Ang, Koh Chieng Mun, Sebastian Tan a.k.a. Broadway Beng®, Suhaimi Yusof and Kumar, against the younger ‘Cuckoo Jiaos’ – Alaric Tay, Judee Tan, Sharul Channa, Fakkah Fuzz, Preetipls and Rishi Budhrani. In each segment, comedians do ‘battle’ by taking turns to perform their routine, with the winner determined by the level of cheers, laughter and applause from the audience. Says Selena: “It’s actually quite a sophisticated system we’ve employed – we’ve set up mikes all around the audience, and throughout the show they’ll be measuring in decibels how much noise they make, chocking up points for each team. It’s a team effort, and whoever scores the most combined points will emerge as winner of the night, before the top two comedians from the winning team end up with a final match to determine the ultimate champion.”

She continues: “It really could go either way each night, depending on who’s on form, whose friends are there to cheer them on or how differently each audience is in terms of which jokes resonate with them. You can expect a whole range of different jokes and styles, and each of these comedians are bringing their A-game to the fight, even first timers like Irene Ang and Koh Chieng Mun.”

Expect plenty of jokes making comment on some of the biggest issues that’ve surrounded our society this year, ranging from the search for a new PM, MRT flooding, the changing fortunes of the staff and readers at SPH and the increasing GST. Says Selena: “The comedians have this whole wealth of stories and jokes to tell, and we do our best not to touch on the same topics as each other. If two people want to do the same topic, then I come in and just straight up let them know who does it better. There’s a lot of energy from the cast and even though it’s quite a long run, they’re all really committed to it.”

Being head of the show, Selena has spent countless hours making sure the entire programme runs smoothly, arranging the comedians so there is a good flow to the entire show. Says Selena: “I arranged the comedians according to topics – it’s not like I want everything political at first, so I spread them out to ensure that there’s always some kind of breathing space in between. There’s a lot of observational humour in there, and it’s the kind of humour I enjoy the most precisely because they’re about things that really happened. I’m in the show myself, and I see how funny everyone is, that I even scare myself into making sure I do better so I don’t fall behind!”

Why then should audiences come to see Happy Ever Laughter 2018? Selena concludes: “It’s been the same from the beginning till now. Comedy acts as a kind of release, and it brings audience members some kind of joy, happiness and laughter, and hopefully they catch a break with it, and can bring that with them to help get through the days that come after. And before you know it, they’ll be counting down once again until the next Dream Academy show!”

*WIN* We have got our hands on some exclusive tickets to the Battle. All you have to do is to follow us on Instagram @Bakchormeeboy and comment who is your favourite comedian!

Happy Ever Laughter 2018 plays at the Capitol Theatre from 11th – 29th July. Tickets available from SISTIC

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