He’s no drag

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ARTS - By S. INDRAMALAR en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

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.

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