The rare time more news is good news.
Rishi Budhrani has established himself as a comedian with the Midas touch. But rather than turning objects into gold, he turns bad news into comedy. With the second live edition of The Rishi Report, we found ourselves back again at Gateway Theatre to witness his news coverage show, now armed with new reports and events from the last three months.
In the pre-show segment, Rishi opens with commentary over our recent surge in community cases. Showcasing his forte when it comes to audience interaction, Rishi manages to get our energy up and entertain us, warming us up for the rest of the evening.
Leapfrogging off the rapport he’s forged with the audience, we carried on with THE copyright issue in Singapore, with the Count On Me Singapore saga, with Rishi suggesting we try to empathise with the composer, and where he’s coming from. Segueing into our ever-expanding transport system, Rishi dives in to the Jurong Line; with how they’re building it up, the common joke about having to bring one’s passport to Jurong may just become a reality!
We also got to meet our “Deputy Prime Minister” played by Edward Choy, as he shed light on the plan and his intentions. Edward Choy mimics the DPM’s signature gestures and physicality, right down to the way he holds out his hand. There is a good attempt too at capturing his tone of voice, and as a performance, it was well thought out without having to over-exaggerate the role.
With all this talk about DPMs, it was inevitable that we would eventually be discussing who would fill the position. We went on to play the game of “who will be the next PM”, and with the responses, let’s just say it was very…insightful.
Moving on to sports, we had our ‘sports correspondent’ and Hougang United fan Jacky Ng, respond on the local football scene, and when he managed to pronounce Tomoyuki Doi’s name so easily, before “selfishly” picking out only the 2 winners that belonged to the club, I knew that that was truly a hool. Adding his own personal feelings into the report, he also indicates his obvious displeasure about how a certain club was taken over.
As with most talk shows, there comes the perfect time for some audience interaction. With The Rishi Report, this came in the form of ‘Singapolitically Incorrect’, a quiz show segment hosted by celebrity guest Gurmit Singh. This was a standout part of the show that worked well, with the cast playing various contestants on the show: devout muslim Hisham played by Siraj, beer-drinking Liverpool fan Raja played by Rishi, and a stereotypical, big-haired housewife played by Jo Tan. Coupled with Gurmit’s over the top energy, all four of them showcased great onstage chemistry and dynamics. Playing off each other’s energy, the cast was able to think fast on their feet, encourage banter between each other and audience, and really brought the game show atmosphere to life.
One of my favourite moments from the last edition was the roving news report segment, with how well-curated it was. This time, Siraj and Jacky boldly took to the ‘streets’ to find out “should women serve NS”; with their energetic approach, their line of questioning provoked some interesting, entertaining responses from the public that filled the theatre with much joy.
Giving the spotlight to Jo and Edward, the duo perform a skit that’s all about the journey to parenthood. Encouraged by our Minister, that all we need is “a very small space to have sex”, we sense their growing tension as they prepare to have a baby together. With BTOs being delayed, coupled with nosy mother-in-laws, the road to starting a family has never been tougher. As they reach breaking point, their cry for help turns into a song – “Where is our BTO?” (set to the tune of “The Greatest Show”), perhaps symbolising how the idea of the ‘perfect’ nuclear family is akin to a circus, with just as many cons to balance the pros of actually conceiving a child.
In the final segment, something I like to call ‘sit down with Rishi’, Rishi invites Gurmit to sit with him, as he interviews him on the spot. It’s an opportunity to get to know our celebrity guest better, and the ‘real’ Gurmit behind his onstage and onscreen personas. From common questions such as why he looks almost Chinese when he is a ‘Singh’, to the origins behind his iconic Phua Chu Kang (PCK) character and the series.
Gurmit reveals that behind his success, was the long and arduous journey of how he stuck to his guns and put in plenty of hard work, allowing him to still reprise his role of PCK at events, and even government campaigns, with the ability of comedy to bring relief in high tension situations. Ultimately, his success is testament to the power of remaining true to himself. As he sang the song “Stand By Me”, I felt the sincerity and gratitude pour out from him, as if saying thank you for supporting him all these years.
Marking the first anniversary since its debut, from its humble beginnings online to the first live show back in February, it’s clear that Rishi and his team are getting the hang of this talk show format and mastering what it takes to elevate the news beyond hard facts. It’s been a road full of challenges, but that certainly does not deter Rishi and his team; with their gung ho, never say die approach, their continued efforts towards improving the show and honing their craft as entertainers are certainly paying off. Incorporating a talkshow segment, comedy, and real conversations about real issues happening around us, The Rishi Report seems closer than ever to becoming Rishi’s dream show.
The Rishi Report Live played at Gateway Theatre Black Box on 30th April and 1st May 2021. More information available on KLOOK