Dream Academy Productions' Happy Ever Laughter, playing at the Esplanade from 27 June to 8 July, brings together an ensemble of Singapore's most well known comedians, each presenting us with a spot of standup comedy.
Selena Tan starts the ball rolling with her rip-roaring and insightful wisecracks about the recent elections and the City Harvest Church money scandal. She speaks in Singlish, and her natural delivery of the material is the perfect opening act, as her quips sent the full house audience into bouts of laughter.
Unfortunately, the artists who followed Ms.Tan are a mixed bag of hits and misses. At the performance I attended, Moses Lim was a miss, many of his jokes simply flat and outdated, and also a disappointment was duo Munah and Hirzi who together performed a variety of different roles but lacked punch in their comedy routine.
Even The Noose's team of Michelle Chong and Chua Enlai seemed to fall short this time, as Chong performed as an SPG (Sarong Party Gal) called Salmonella (who was suspiciously laden with very similar characteristics to Chong's infamous Barbarella). Chong's dialogue featured his Chinese-accented English, with plenty of grammatical mistakes thrown in, coupled with an overdone fake accent that included the rolling of R's where there should have been none – it was the quintessential SPG speech pattern that Chong perfected for Barbarella. However, that made her segment seem a little tired as it carried a "been there, seen that, heard it all before" vibe.
Chua Enlai's jibes were only mildly funny, but his local version of the Maori Haka dance brought the house down as Chua did the exact actions and gestures of the Haka war cry to Chinese dialect words.
Sebastian Tan performed his part mostly in dialect Chinese, but he always made sure to translate it into English for the non-Chinese in the audience, which was much appreciated. However, a lot of Tan's material lost its comedic factor in the translation.
Gurmit Singh was slightly shocking, as he has always been perceived as a pretty straight-laced G-rated comedian, but here he cussed and swore, and at one point remarked that he had two children "officially" that he "knew of". For those of us familiar with Singh as the infamous Phua Chu Kang on screen and the goody-two-shoes church-going married father you read about in print, this was strange territory to find him in. It was like seeing the Pope in jeans!
Singh's quips were a bit hit-and-miss though, with some jokes failing, and some hitting the funny bone just right. But perhaps Singh should explore more R-rated material in the future, as he seemed to revel in this new found rebellion of sorts.