Are Live Shows in Malaysia Finally Back From the Dead? | The Full Frontal

Are Live Shows in Malaysia Finally Back From the Dead?

After what seems like a lifetime spent indoors with nothing but the four walls of your home to look at, things are finally looking up for Malaysians.

Now that our adult vaccination rates have reached 90%, we’re finally able to enjoy all the things we used to be able to do before the pandemic: actually leaving your house, travelling, and attending events once more!

Now, for the everyday Malaysian who works a 9-5 job with a steady income, life has gone on mostly without a hitch. We didn’t have to worry about where the money was coming from every month, because we always knew it would come.

But for the artists and entertainers whose livelihood depended on crowds, events, and gatherings, things weren’t really rainbows and sunshine for them.

The Curtains Close

Kavin Jay Malaysia stand up comedy
Kavin Jay is a well-known Malaysian comedian who had his own Netflix special in 2018 | Source from Netflix

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions and SOPs, the entertainment industry – particularly the live show scene – was forced into a long hiatus. With the number of infected cases going up and down (not unlike my mood swings during my time of the month), it looked highly unlikely that the entertainment business would open any time soon.

Fast forward a few jabs of the vaccine later, and we’re finally at a stage where live shows can finally happen once more.

In conjunction with this revival, The Full Frontal had the opportunity to speak to Joanne Kam and Kavin Jay, the stars of the latest live comedy variety show Kamthology, on how the pandemic affected them and what we can look forward to now that live shows are back in action.

“It’s been hard to not be able to do what I do, it makes me feel like I am useless. I am very lucky to have a “sugar mummy” in the form of my wife who has a job, but I felt like a bum not being able to add to the household income,” says Kavin.

“I had a few online gigs but it is not the same, no instant gratification and laughter, it almost feels like I am talking to myself. It did give me time to work on other projects that I have wanted to do like writing a movie and developing a series.”

For Joanne, she looked at this period of time with a silver lining.

“The pandemic affected the live show and events industry, but how it affected me was it taught me to come out of my comfort zone. I had to learn how to do online shows and create videos to keep up appearances as well.”

It wasn’t all good, however, as Joanne also fell on hard times emotionally.

“At one stage, it became a very dark period and although I did not get into a deep depression, I definitely was feeling the weight of it all. I think being a single mother helped me with this as I did not want to show the desperation to my daughter, but she definitely was a beacon to form some sort of normalcy at home,” she says.

Is Entertainment an Essential Service?

So, we all know that due to the lockdowns and restrictions, the government broke the industries into two categories: essential and non-essential. This meant that non-essential industries, or industries that were not needed in the survival of the rakyat or the operations of the country, were forced to take a back seat.

Unfortunately, the entertainment industry fell under that category too.

“I mean, if you look at it on paper, we are “non-essential” because to be honest, we are not “needed” to make new art. There is a backlog of so much that people can go back and watch. I understand that in the grand scheme of things, my job and what I do may not be as “important”, but classifying a job as “non-essential” cannot be correct,” says Kavin.

asian watching video on laptop in bed
Online media and streaming platforms have been crucial for our sanity these past two years | Source from Pexels

While it is true that the entertainment industry isn’t technically essential, I’m sure we can all agree that without YouTube, TikTok, or our Netflix accounts, staying indoors would be way less bearable than it has been for the past almost two years.

Joanne echoes this sentiment.

“I think that is such a misconception. If you wake up every day and watch a movie, a series, a comedy video, or even TikTok – those are (forms of) entertainment. The world needs entertainment more than ever to bring us out of the pandemic,” she says.

“We are all human and everyone is essential. Everyone’s livelihood is important and essential to people who depend on it. Safety should be of utmost importance but classifying “essential” and “non-essential” is not correct,” Kavin adds.

“If it’s not essential, then I dare you to spend 24 hours without listening to music, watching YouTube or Netflix and don’t view content from any content creator. Then assess if entertainment is an essential part of your life,”

Joanne Kam

#SapotLokal Doesn’t Exclusively Mean Local Businesses

Throughout our pandemic escapade, #SapotLokal has been the narrative of Malaysians nationwide, but are the local talents of our entertainment industry met with the same gusto of support?

“I think the support has always been great. When we had a show, we get people coming out to see us, and always showed me so much love,” Kavin pipes in.

“The biggest difference is the support from the producers; they always just focused on the ones that made them the most money, even if it meant using outside talents. They were just focused on what your social media following is and why use local talents when I could get someone more popular.”

Joanne, on the other hand, thinks the pandemic has made a difference in Malaysians’ support for the live show scene.

“I think people are more cautious now when they want to venture out for entertainment. In the past before the pandemic, concerts and parties were abundant and the crowd was much wilder,” says Joanne.

We cannot deny that for the longest time, even today, we’ve always looked outward and emulated international entertainment as “the standard”. Perhaps now more than ever, we should start looking at local talents and giving them the support they need instead. Why can’t “local” translate to “international” too?

“I think it is time we saw what Malaysia had to offer in terms of art; our local talents have been as good, if not better than any international talents you have seen. Give Malaysian arts a chance and I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.”

Kavin Jay

A Spoonful of Laughter

kamthology comedy stand up malaysia joanne kam kavin jay
Kamthology features a variety of characters and acts with well-known local comedians | Source from Kamthology

In short, whether the big guys running things realise it or not, entertainment is and always will be an integral part of society. It’s the sugar and spice to the proverbial cake that is life; without it, it’s just meh.

Joanne believes that live shows in particular bring something more to the table.

“The live show industry is a platform that brings feelings of euphoria and entertainment; be it live music, comedy or (other) shows, it is shown that it can lead to increased levels of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.”

“I think comedy is one of the entertainment showcases that can be healing. After all, I believe the saying “laughter is the best medicine” is perfectly suitable to cope with this pandemic. So come out, laugh and heal, and be safe,” she adds.

So, what can showgoers expect of Kamthology?

“It’s not just a stand-up comedy showcase. There will be an amazing opening dance gambit and a segment with several zany characters that will have you rolling in laughter. We can’t divulge too much, so you’re going to have to come witness it yourself LIVE,” says Joanne.

“EVERYTHING. I would say expect the unexpected, you could even see me in a saree, who knows?” jokes Kavin.

If you’re interested in seeing the show, The Full Frontal is currently running a giveaway over on our Facebook page. Hurry and check it out now, closing date for the giveaway ends on 28 October 2021 at 8pm (this one no Malaysian timing ya)!

If comedy isn’t your thing and you’re looking for something spookier for Halloween, we’ve got just the thing for you:

5 Spookiest Malaysian Theme Parks to Visit For Halloween 2021

halloween hauntu feature pic
Nothing says “Halloween” like visiting a haunted house. | Source