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Q&A with Kuah Jenhan

Comedian Kuah Jenhan's show Like This Like Dad was inspired by his very traditional Chinese father. Off The Leash caught up with the sought-after Malaysian comedian ahead of his Darwin Festival run.

What is it about your dad that made you want to do a comedy show about him? 
My dad maintained a zero-positive-reinforcement policy but was silently supportive! I think it is not so much what he said and who he was, but rather what he didn't say and who he wanted to be seen as, that is the driving force of this show. In his silence, I saw humour in the family!

You had a successful run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) with a show about your time in Uzbekistan – how did you end up there (Uzbekistan, not Melbourne)? 
Actually, I went to Uzbekistan partly because of Melbourne! I was booked for a season at the MICF but was going through a writer's block. I had become numb to the daily happenings in my country, Malaysia. Desperate to write something, anything, I was counting on going to a place I knew nothing about in a region I knew nothing about to see if I could jolt myself back to life and fortunately it worked. I had a great time in Uzbekistan and in Melbourne sharing my stories.

How does Malaysian humour compare to other countries where stand-up comedy is popular? 
In my opinion, humour very often translates across country as long as it is in the same language. The main differences are the stories/observations originate from Malaysia, or from a wider worldview, Asia. However, in the context of Asia, Malaysia is fast becoming a hub for budding comedians ready to take on the world! What's different about Malaysia (in the Asia comedy scene) is that the local population often make up a majority of the audience as opposed to expats and these audiences come to a show having watched popular stand-up comedy specials, be it on the internet or Netflix, and they demand quality and we push ourselves to give them that.

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