Douglas Lim was not your average kid. He was barely five years old when he already had the mind of an entertainer. Whenever his parents had guests over, he knew exactly what to do to keep them on their toes.
He dazzled them with his storytelling skills, singing and impressions. Heck, he even had his very own joke book!
But sometimes, says the 40-year-old, it could get a little overwhelming.
“Usually, parents push their kids to show off their talents whenever their friends came over. I was the kind of kid whose parents had to say ‘enough la’,” Lim shares, laughing.
The comedy king relates that from a very young age, he developed the instincts to distinguish between what was funny and what was funny and shareable, instincts which would later help him rise to become one of Malaysia’s top comedians.
But watching Eddie Murphy’s Delirious, an American stand-up comedy television special, as a teenager, was probably what led Lim down the stand-up comedy path.
“I genuinely found it very funny. His observations were excellent and his craft was so fantastic.
“I started writing my own jokes and tried to find anyone who would listen to me perform,” Lim fondly recalls.
Of course, Lim is a well recognised stand-up comedian in his own right and very soon, he will be tickling the Aussie funny bone at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017 (MICF).
One of the largest international comedy festivals in the world, the MICF, established in 1987, will run from March 29 to April 23.
This will mark Lim’s debut at an international comedy festival.
The KL-born of Kopitiam-fame will be performing the festival-produced show Comedy Zone Asia, together with fellow Malaysian comic Rizal van Geyzel. Also joining them in the showcase are Indian stand-up comedians Neeti Palta and Sumit Anand, and Singaporean Jinx Yeo.
Now in its third year, Comedy Zone Asia brings together the best comics from the region for a truly playful, ludicrous and side-splitting showcase. On top of performing in the showcase, Lim also gets to have his very own solo show, This Is Nice, for a limited time during the festival.
“This is my first time doing a solo show,” Lim reveals.
He will then perform together with Malaysian comic Kuah Jenhan at the Sydney Comedy Festival in a split bill called Buy One Free One. This will take place at the Enmore Theatre from April 27-30.
Some of Lim’s comedy showcases back home include Tall Order Productions’ Lawak Ke Der and the Malaysian Association of Chinese Comedians (MACC), which he founded, with fellow comics Phoon Chi Ho, Jason Leong and Kuah Jenhan.
Lim has also acted in local musicals Supermokh the Musical (2013) and P. Ramlee the Musical (2014), in which he played Run Run Shaw.
Talking about his upcoming set for the showcase, Lim says that he will be relying a lot on observations made by him as a Malaysian about general happenings in life. He feels that not enough of our culture has been “exported to the world for mass recognition”.
“But it has to be stuff that the Australians would know about as well. For example, Raja Bomoh is a great topic for Malaysians, but the Australian audience may not know it unless I tie it to the MH370 tragedy,” Lim explains.
Despite his successful run in Malaysia as a comedian, Lim admits that things were not always rosy. The early years of his career hit brickwall after brickwall.
Calling it brutal, Lim says reactions ranged from people walking out of the hall, to flinging a cushion at him while he was on stage.
“It was a rough period. Stand-up is one of the very few entertainment genres where feedback is instantaneous. I don’t even have the luxury of delivering my entire set and seeing if you like it. I know whether you like it or not a second after I finish my sentence,” Lim tells.
But things changed for him when the Godfather of Malaysian comedy, Harith Iskander, asked Lim to open for him. This provided Lim the kind of exposure he needed and the rest, as they say, is stand-up comedy history.
When asked if comedy plays a role in the health of a nation, Lim immediately says yes. He says this is especially true for Malaysia as we are a democratic country.
So, if you are headed Down Under, make sure to catch Lim at Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s Comedy Zone Asia. The show will be held at the Melbourne Town Hall. For more information, visit www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017.