Five minutes with Papi Zak

Updated: 24 Jan 2014

Papi Zak is known as the ‘biggest’ stand-up comedian in Malaysia, this radio host and emcee speaks to Su Aziz about his stumble into comedy and the best thing to do in Penang.

How would you describe yourself in five words?
Quirky. Curious. Hungry. Lover. Wildcard.

How did you stumble into comedy? 
It was actually one of my to-do list before I go... and I was so amazed by the likes of Eddie Murphy, and Robin Williams. Then I was dared by one of my good friends to do it in KL, and who knew it would the best five minutes of my life. It turned out to be more of a therapy session for me. Mind you, I was raised to follow instructions from my elders, so stand-up is a way for me to unleash all my pent up emotions. In 2006 at Actor's Studio Bangsar, I popped my cherry to a crowd of 50 people, and they loved it! Been loving it ever since.

Do you prefer being on radio or being on stage?
I love being on radio because radio pays me ‘nicely’. With stand-up, it’s hard to make money unless you already have a name, like our gurus Harith Iskander and Douglas Lim. Still, I’m more passionate about stand up.

What does it take to be a comedian?
Everyone's got their definition of what it takes to be a comedian – you have to be poor, you have to be unhappy in your life in general, you have to have some sort of addiction to drugs or this is one my favorites: you have to be fat. For me, to be a good comedian, you must be able to tell a story, it's the way you deliver your story. If you have that power to entice your audience with your stories, then you've got what it takes. Howevere, don't try too hard, you (and your audience) can always tell when you're forcing out a story.

What are the challenges of being a comedian in Malaysia?
I find the biggest challenge for me is finding a stage that can support my big a**! It's like my gimmick whenever I perform: I walk on stage, I hear the floor creak…everybody laughs. Then I proceed with jokes. I've been known around the clubs in KL as the stage killer. I literally kill the stage.

Have you noticed any development of Malaysians’ sense of humour in the past years?
Well, personally Malaysians' sense of humor hasn't changed since the P.Ramlee days. It's still very sketch-based and due to sensitivity issues here, some people are shy to joke about certain matters.

What crosses your mind when you think of Penang?
Great food. I can't say much for the party scene in Penang because every time I tried to party in Penang, people go home by 2am, and that for me is still too early!

What’s the funniest thing about Penang you’ve observed?
Your artists have a problem finishing their art work. Some of them have infused some of their work onto the walls. I tried riding the bike and fell off and hurt myself in the longkang (drain). And I love how you name your nasi kandar joints: Nasi Kandar Beratur? Really?

When in Penang, you must…
Eat! There's no such thing as being on a diet when you're in Penang! From nasi kandar to char koay teow and seafood. Whether greasy, or oily, it's all good and you know it.

Lastly, what are the benefits of visiting Penang?
Well honestly it's the only time you get to take a break from eating the great Penang food. Fill your stomach with food, then come over and have a laugh, then proceed to fill your stomach again. I love Penang so much!

For the latest updates on Papi Zak, check out his Facebook and Twitter.

Tags: Features