"Acting is the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances." -- Sanford Meisner

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Visualising the Script - 2

This is a set of images I sketched last year, and compiled into a slide show with music. It is about a martial arts master, who in his zealousness to excel, over-exerted himself and sinks into depression. He finally heals with the love and support of his family.

For more about visualisation of scripts in this blog, click here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Instant Comedy - Laffio 29Jan2015

The day has finally come for the first installation of Instant Comedy at Restaurant Laffio, 337 Beach Road, Singapore. It was brilliant - full house with tickets sold out before the event.

I have my material fairly tested by now at Scape and Comedy Club Asia and its delivery adjusted to the audience's reactions on the fly on the very night. Hard doing that while remembering the content and flow.

It was a very lively and supportive crowd. Thank you very much. Sorry I cannot give all of you a free bottle of wine.

Here is the gig:

What I have learned:

  1. Content is king and content in context is bigger king, BUT content in context, in good timing is King of Kings. Therefore, content is only 50%. The other 50% is delivery. It is important to eliminate stammers and unnecessary words, and improve body language. 
  2. Interact with the audience. I think I did well this time, but that makes remembering the script harder. More rehearsals would have helped.
  3. Always plan for a soft landing, in case your punchline bombed. It worked!
  4. Assess the audience well and quickly. If something does not work, drop it, don't let it die a painful slow death.
  5. It is possible to have breakout laughters without sex and profanity.

The next event will be on:
Date: 12th Feb 2015 (Thursday)
Time: 7.30pm

Hotel Jen, Orchard Gateway Singapore, 
277 Orchard Road, Singapore 238858. 
Lounge@Jen, Level 10
(Nearest MRT Somerset)

For other posts about comedy, click here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Instant Comedy

I am into standup comedy. I wrote my material, got them tested and am now in the performing circuit.

I need Standup. After some time as a film actor, one can easily be dictated by scripted dialogues, camera angles and directors' visions of how a performance ought to go. Then, spontanaeity goes out of the window.

 I think Standup is one of the hardest form of improv acting, as the performer has to adjust to the audience, on the fly. He has to think on his feet and yet be on his toes. Now is that possible? These are what I have learned on the job so far:

1. Don't try to be funny
Don't try to make people laugh. Just go on stage and be enthusiastic. Everyone loves a high spirit.

2. Don't try to tell stories
Stories are too logical. Humour is often not. They are usually surprisingly cruel. Sometimes the more cruel they are, the more laughters you get.

3. Talk to the audience
Interact. Get them involved.

I bet there will be lots more that I have to learn. It is a job that can only be practised with a live audience. Dead ones are more challenging, but they will lift your performance to even greater heights.

The moral of the story here is to get started and jump into the deep end. If you happened to have led a miserable and troubled life, then don't despair, for you are more than likely to have an unfair advantage. Laugh and the whole world laughs with you.

Come and support us on:

Date/Time: 29th January 2015, 7.30pm

Place: Laffio, 337 Beach Road, Singapore 199565

There will be other comics performing that night too!



The sound recording is bad, so I have a transcript of the first minute or so...

...as a very angry and frustrated man. So I was thinking,... how I was as a newbie, how I can get into character of such a big role

So I observed how sergeant majors behave, researched on them, scripted Singlish and military lingo, practised them over and over again , and finally, abstained from sex. 


It worked. I won the Best Performance Award... for acting as a frustrated sergeant major.

So I thought it was good news right? So I went home and told my wife that I won the Best Performance Award, she said, "I am not surprised!".


Ok, some of you didn't get it... probably because you are getting it every night.


If you are wondering which sergeant major that was, it is none other than the famous Warrant Officer Lee Teck Hong in Hentak Kaki, For more, click here.

For more posts about comedy, click here.

Tin Kosong

Tin Kosong is a short film adapted for Utter 2014 (The Singapore Writers' Festival) from a novel of the same name,  written by Mohammed Salleh, It is directed by Mr Sanif Olek. 

The film is about a Malay man who lives in a make-belief that his wife and family are all well and with him, He spends his time doing odd jobs and collecting empty tin cans to be sold for scrap.

The production overran a little on the day of my shoot, I think it was due to the dance sequences in the preceding scenes. My scene was captured just in time during the golden hour of sunset amid the lovely art-deco buildings at Tiong Bahru, Singapore. 

I was directed to set my eyes on the empty cans in the scene, what was treasure in their little word. The cameraman captured the nuances of the ambiguous intentions spot on, though no words were spoken. I think Mr Khalid Baboo also fleshed out the vulnerable and tired character very convincingly.

There was no audition for me for this role, my suitability probably based on a similar Malay speaking Chinese man role I did in Utter 2013.

I am getting used to acting in Malay. Besides the two Utter films I acted in, I have also acted in some Suria TV (Malay Channel) dramas. In all the productions, they always want me to deliver like how a Chinese man normally speaks (Malay), with slangs like "Gua" for "Saya" (me) and "Lu" for "Anda" (you).  Both which are words derived from Hokkien and propagated by the Peranakans. Ironically, that makes it more difficult as I only studied standard Malay in school. :)

Here is an interview with the director...

And here is the film proper...

For more films in Malay in this blog, click here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


"Checkmate" is Willy Yong's final year project at NAFA (Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts) in the Year 2014. He wrote and directed the ten-minute film about a disillusioned man going through counselling in prison for the murder of his wife. The dialogue is long and pompous and cleverly spiced with metaphors of chess to illustrate the many trappings of a failed marriage.

Originally, Willy intended the counsellor to be a man, but I suggested to him to change it to a lady character for added intrigue. Dr Lee, played by Amy Yan, represents the conscience of the disillusioned man, complete with prim, proper and polished English.

The script and cast were confirmed only a few days before the shoot. There was no time for rehearsals as the project had to be completed before their course officially ends. I also happened to have several other shoots during that period and only had time to memorise the dialogue on set. It was hard as they were not lines one hears everyday, but of those depicting the harsh reality of a failed marriage with the cynicism and ego of a badly dejected mind.

Here is the film proper...

For other NAFA films I have acted in, click here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Unlucky Plaza

Producer/Director/Writer - Ken Kwek

Father. Restaurateur. Hostage-taker. How one man's financial woes spiral into a harrowing crisis that captivated the world.

Genre: Drama

I am lucky to be invited to the private screening of "Unlucky Plaza" for the cast and crew, at The Projector. It is also the first movie to be screened at the 25th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) 2014. The Projector is  a recently renovated cinema for independent films, at Golden Mile, Singapore.

The title of the movie, "Unlucky Plaza", is  a cheeky snide at Lucky Plaza, a mall frequented by Filippinos living in Singapore. The "Unlucky" bit is also a hint of the lead character's calamitous journey as a migrant, father and businessman, played convincingly by Epy Quizon, a Fillipino actor, based in Manila.

Among some of the director Ken Kwek's work is "Sex.Violence.Family Values", an anthology of short films, which was banned by the Singapore and Malaysian governments in 2012. It was later allowed to release in Singapore and sold-out to packed audience.

The screenplay of "Unlucky Plaza", started with the portrayal of individual characters: of the migrant filippino father and his son; of the Singaporean motivational get-rich-quick speaker and his frustrated and adulterous wife; of the pastor who has sinned and fallen prey to the seductress; and of the gangster from China who comes chasing after his money. I was so mesmerised with each of the quirky sub-plots that I did not expect a crisis looming in the background and their paths to cross and culminate in a kidnapping-hostage situation. (I had no idea what the film is about at all before I entered the cinema hall.)

I like the sound and camera work, particularly the smooth flow of steadicam work gliding up the stairs exhibiting the opulence of the bungalow with a swimming pool, two maids and a lavish interior.

While the movie has many funny bits that made me laughed, I cannot help empathising with the stories of migrant workers from developing countries and their plight striking out a living in a foreign country.
"Unlucky Plaza"  convinced me that there are more than one way to make a film that can sell in Singapore and Malaysia, without having to resort to highly localised slapstick and coarse comedy.

I would highly recommend you to watch the movie.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


This is my first time acting in a horror film and also my first time having lines in the Thai language, which I had no prior knowledge of. Like the Chinese language, Thai is tonal and so the same phonetic in the wrong tone can mean something very different, often with hilarious results. Also, it was hard keeping up with  the gentle Thai soft and pampered ways of talking.

"Stitched" is a Temasek Polytechnic Year 2 project, written and directed by Paul Tang and brilliantly executed by his dedicated and talented team. It is about a father who thought that he could get away with a fling in Thailand, only to discover the horrors that had followed him thereafter. I won't spoil the film for you. Here it is...

We were very lucky to get this apartment for the shoot - so lived-in and complete with all the oriental charms and character - so unpretentious and so un-self-conscious. Other than some minor technical adjustments, what you see comes original with the house. I think the house itself is half the battle won.

An art director would have to spend a lot more time and money if we had a common run-off-the-mill pristine looking apartment in Singapore. Look at the details... the cuddly toy, the notices stuck on the wall, the left over Chinese New Year kitsch dangling... the details that captivate and tell so much.

We had to stand 'the ghost' on a pedestal, so that the lighting and camera angles turn out right. In film making terms, it is called "cheating".

I bet you won't see cuddly toys the same way you used to after this film. Oh ya, Paul and his gang bought three of them from Taobao. One of them got mistakenly loped into the rubbish chute, another got burned alive, and then there was one (left). Did you remember the name of the teddy bear? It is Luap, which is 'Paul' spelt backwards. There goes the saying that no matter what you write for a film, even if it is about a fish (in this case a Teddy), the story is about YOU.  lol

The scenes with the teddy bears were not much fun. The intestines stuffed inside were pig intestines and the smelled really foul. So foul I nearly puke and only held back because the camera was right below my mouth. The camera guy told me he was so impressed with my act that if I had thrown up, he would have stood still to capture the action!

Oh yes, if you think that I had done a convincing apprehensive look during the burning of the teddy bear, you were half right. The truth was that I was REALLY scared. Scared that the tin may explode with the added combustible fluid soaked in the teddy bear.

The burning of the teddy bear was the last act. It was done late in the night to avoid bystanders and busy-bodies, but even then, it didn't stop a few guys up in the blocks of flats upstairs ready with their cameras and binoculars, probably waiting to post us on social network.

We waited for more than an hour, then decided to go to a new location from those prying eyes. We then shot the burning scene swiftly and then quenching the flames, clearing the debris and making our run just as quickly.

See, even the toothbrushes seem to talk to you in this film. :)