He’s no drag
HE looks great in a dress but that’s not the reason Singapore’s famous drag queen Kumar is a top draw back home and in Malaysia. No, Kumar has earned himself a huge following because, well, he is genuinely very funny. Quite often irreverent, sometimes lewd but always funny.
This Sunday, Malaysians will get a chance to see Kumar perform a stand-up routine at The Ascott in Kuala Lumpur. Presented by the Laugh Syndicate, Kumar will be joined by Malaysian funny woman Joanne Kam for part of his show.
“I enjoy entertaininging people,” shares the comedian in an e-mail interview with The Star.star “I like making people laugh so that they forget about their problems. I like watching people smile.”
Kumar, 42, made his name performing his stand up routines at the now defunct Boom Boom Club in Singapore close to two decades ago. He has performed in various stage productions in Singapore and has even appeared in culinary travel show on television, Rusiyo Rusi (aired on the Asian Food Channel). Currently, Kumar performs at the Hard Rock Cafe Singapore and Three Monkeys, a swanky bar located at Orchard in the island republic.
On stage, Kumar seems larger than life. Apart from his drag attire, he uses no props and employs no gimmicks. It’s a one-man (dressed as a woman) show. His jokes touch Singapore’s Queen Kumar is in Kuala Lumpur and promises Malaysians a night like no other. on everything from current affairs to sex, the idiosyncrasies of people he has met and popular culture. But, he shares, there are some subjects he never broaches.
“I joke about anything. My material can be based on current issues or things I find on the Internet or heard about from my friends. But I don’t use profanities on stage and I never joke about Mat Sallehs. They are a big joke anyway so I just won’t go there,” he says in true Kumar fashion.
Despite his commanding presence on stage, Kumar insists that he is, in actuality, a very shy person.
“That is my stage persona ... when I am in drag. But without the make-up and costumes, I am a very shy person. People who meet me on the streets sometimes mistake my shyness for arrogance. They think I am proud,” he says.
Funnily enough, Kumar never dreamt of being a comic or performing in drag. He initially wanted to be a classical Indian dancer.
“I was quite lonely growing up ... being the only boy in the house (he has three sisters). I ended up spend- ing a lot of time playing with the dogs at the SPCA where my dad worked. Then I discovered bharatanatyam (classical Indian dance) in school and I enjoyed it tremendously,” he recalls. Kumar never pursued dance as a career though. An invitation by a friend to perform in drag showed him that this could be his calling.
“I found that being in drag attracted a lot of attention (so I pursued it) and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since,” he says.
Though he performs at sold-out shows these days, Kumar revealed in an interview with CNN International last year that his first few outings on stage were really quite disastrous.
“The toughest time was when I was trying to make people laugh the first time I was on stage. Nobody laughed! So I went back and cried for three months. Every day it was the same thing. It’s either you swim or you drown, right? I really wanted this so I went below the belt and that was that,” he explains.
He also faced resistance at home – his parents weren’t thrilled at him performing in drag.
“My dad didn’t speak to me for seven years. It wasn’t easy. My mum? She couldn’t find me on stage because she thought everyone on stage were girls,” he shares, adding that he never dresses drag off-stage.
For his show in Kuala Lumpur, Kumar (who has performed in Malaysia several times) guarantees audiences a good time.
“Malaysians ... expect to laugh your hearts out or stay at home with your stove on. And breathe deeply.” n Tickets are sold out for Kumar’s show at The Ascott, KL on Sunday, but to find out about upcoming showcases by the Laugh Syndicate, call 013-290 9093.