Sunday, April 22, 2007

ComeBack Kings to kick off WPFD

By Adeline Chong

What can a pest like a cockroach do? For most of us, it exists to torment us as we tuck into a hearty meal of nasi lemak. But the ComeBackKings, an energetic bunch of comedians, have actually turned our fears of vile, flying cockroaches into raucous laughter in their skit ‘Dance 101’, which credits the origins of dance to a single cockroach. There was such encouraging response for this skit that they have been constantly asked to perform at various other events, and thus the journey of the ComeBackKings began.

Currently, ComeBackKings comprises of six talented members, Phoon Chi Ho, Theatre Supervisor of The Actors Studio Bangsar; Nigesh Armon, Mechanical Engineering student; Matthew Ho, recent graduate with a BA (Hons) in Communication; Mathew George, BA Communication and Media Management student; Jonathan Nathan, Business Management Developer; Yee Mun Joon, pursuing MSc Electronic Engineering and Ong Yi Khai who is attached with ntv7.

Over time, their performances have varied to include stand-up comedy and spoofing popular songs amongst others and they perform almost anywhere and everywhere they get a chance to – bars, lounges and restaurants to corporate functions, college events, theatre and concert events.

“Where people call, we go. It’s like ‘Scooby doo’s mystery machine' except we call our ride the Whimsical Wagon.”

The might of their comedic talent has also been proven when they won a talent competition held by the Institute Advertising Communication Training (IACT), which incidentally, also kick-started their fame.

When asked to demystify the magic that draws infectious laughter from crowds, the ComeBackKings simply remarked: “No magic. As budding performers in Malaysia, we struggle to make ends meet so we can’t afford a bomoh yet.”

It is apparent that their jokes extend beyond their performances. So how does a comedy bunch feel about serious issues being addressed during the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD)
“The arts is always pushing and questioning the boundaries of freedom as well as lack of. It is the one medium that can express one’s thoughts on freedom creatively and conceptually… (Also,) reporting accurately and expressing oneself freely is the ticket to taking our development to another level.”

As performers, they realise that freedom of expression can be very tricky.

“Being somewhat a ‘public figure’ we have to constantly be aware of our material to please the general audience and dominant party(ies).

“Is it possible for local comedians to not touch on religions, race and government? If it’s not possible, then we should ask ourselves why our nation of 50 years is still so sensitive when it comes to such discussions."

With that in mind, they hope that WPFD generates awareness in Malaysians and encourages them to express their thoughts on freedom through proper channels, because they find that many still do not realise “they are being abused with distorted and erroneous substances in the media.”

It is obvious that ComeBackKings are not run-of-the-mill comedians. This vivacious group who look up to veterans such as Harith Iskandar, Rashid Salled, Douglas Lim and Patrick Teoh, are armed not only with wit, but a deep regard for Malaysia’s struggle for freedom for expression. We can most certainly count on such new blood to continue thriving the Malaysian arts scene and champion freedom of expression.

Note: the ComeBackKings will do the opening act on Saturday, 5 May 2007 at noon at the outdoor stage in Central Market. Be sure to catch them!

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