Laughter Is: Going Places at Merry Lion Club (Review)
Fun night out hearing new voices on the local comedy scene.
If there’s something to be said about Singapore’s comedy scene, it’s that more than ever, there’s an increasing number of opportunities for newcomers to arrive on the scene and get a chance to try it out. And over at the Merry Lion Club on Circular Road, Singapore’s ‘Home of Comedy’, that opportunity is ripe, as comedy hopefuls take to the stage with their own routines on a regular basis to a mostly warm audience ready to encourage.
Most recently, Prem John (SG), Ram Shantaram (SG) and Ajay Kumar (IND) have come together to put on a unique show highlighting rising brown voices of comedy. Titled Going Places, over the course of a single night, each of the three rising comedians performed a stand-up routine each, along with a very special sketch, something much more rarely seen during a local comedy night.
As the night began, the audience grabbed their drinks and quickly settled in to an introduction by host Eugene, speaking cordially and frankly about his weight loss and observational humour in society, easily warming up the audience for the rest of the acts. Opening the set was Ajay, as he delivered a dead-pan series of jokes. Often veering into dangerously dark territory, there were plenty of moments the audience couldn’t help but let loose a hearty laugh as he maintained the same stoic expression throughout, taking one-liners to their extremes. Unafraid to be a little offensive, Ajay even compares himself to Gandhi (both being bald and Indian), and throws in an incest jokes along with it.
Next up, local actor Ram took the stage. Known for his roles in films such as Kallang Roar, there’s something indescribably sweet about Ram and the way he tells his anecdotal stories about his young niece, and how his otherwise ‘scary’ look often leads to other young children fingering him as the ‘apu neh neh’, to their parents’ horror…and the antics that follow after. There’s a certain warmth and good back and forth relatability to Ram’s delivery that makes him immediately likeable, and an enjoyable set overall.
Following a brief intermission, all three comedians came together to perform a rather unusual bit – the sketch. There’s not much we can reveal about it, except that it involves Ghostbusters, a certain renowned family in Singapore, and a haunted house. A combination of slapstick humour, humour revolving around racial stereotypes and over-the-top acting, this was a refreshing segment to break the monotony of one stand-up after another, and certainly, a performance style we’d welcome more in the local scene.
Ending off on a strong note was Prem John, seemingly the most experienced of the three as he confidently and brazenly delivered his set touching on a myriad of topics, from Indian versions of Marvel superheroes, to his own experiences growing up and playing basketball as the sole Indian. Prem’s onstage energy is infectious, and it’s not hard to get into his brand of humour as each joke lands. Finishing up with a longer joke about his marriage (his own wife was sitting in the front row), Prem brought the night to a close with plenty of heart, plenty of laughs and applause from the audience, and the knowledge that as the comedy scene grows, so does the diversity and quantity of talent getting the chance to show their stuff in Singapore.
Going Places played on 2nd October 2019 at the Merry Lion Club. For more information and upcoming shows at the venue, visit their website here