Being ‘kepoh’ about Bibi KPoh
WITH ‘THE GOLDEN GIRLS’ and famous comedienne-turned-talk show host Whoopi Goldberg as her inspirations, Bibi KPoh who has built up her comedic reputation from humble beginnings in Singapore and made her mark on the entertainment scene in Kuala Lumpur is obviously no stranger in the entertainment industry.
“I adore Whoopi Goldberg,” said Bibi, explaining how she first got into the Singapore entertainment industry with her caricature of Goldberg. “In fact, when I first auditioned for a performing job in Singapore, I played Oda Mae Brown from ‘Ghost’ and I made it through as the auditioners really liked what I did.”
Before she embodied the comedic personality ‘Bibi KPoh’, she first trained and performed at Haw Par Villa theme park in Singapore. Together with other popular and well-known comedians like Joanne Kam Poh Poh, television host and drag comedian Kumar as well as Gurmit Singh, they trained every morning from Monday to Friday in dancing, singing, acting, comedy and improvisational work.
“My career only started when I was asked to replace my cousin, the fabulous Joanne Kam Poh Poh, who was resigning, and had asked me to take over her place as comedian host at the hippest club in Kuala Lumpur at that time – the Boom Boom Room.”
After her first show and hearing people’s laughter, she said “I never looked back. Making people laugh really is a good feeling.”
When asked about where she got the material for her jokes, she said that most of it was from observing people. “I would go to coffee shops such as Starbucks, and watch how people move around, the way they act and react. Apart from that, my jokes also come from stereotyping of people where I play things like that on stage. I love to exaggerate everyday things, and that is my genre of jokes, which most of it needs to be sexy, of course.”
That being said, she doesn’t believe in putting people down for a laugh.
“Putting down people is just cheap comedy. It is easy to insult people but not as easy to be funny without being insulting,” she then explained.
Bibi also said that her signature concept as a comedienne was ‘naughty but nice’, along with her signature look – her tiara – which she always wears during her show and fans recognise as her trademark.
Stressing that a comedian was not a clown, Bibi said that in order to find what is funny to their audience, a true comedian needs to really understand people, and that is one of her challenges.
When she is not performing, Bibi loves to read, draw and be involved in artistic activities. She is a self-professed animal activist and does charity work when she has the chance.
Bibi finds that the best thing about being a comedienne is her own enjoyment every time she performs, although she confessed that even after so many years doing it, she still feels nervous before every performance.
“Every time I step on stage, it is a different feeling, the people are different, what makes them laugh is also different. That’s what makes my job fun, interesting and not boring.”
Bibi who is of Peranakan Chinese descent from Kuala Lumpur has entertained audiences all over Malaysia and South East Asia.
“People have said lots of nice things to me, including how they come back from work and went to see my show and had a really wonderful time. Most people are very nice and have nice things to say to me, and that really satisfies me with the things that I do now,” she added.
Although the job is always fun, Bibi refrains from doing jokes that have to do with politics, religion and race.
“Audience participation plays a big role in my acts as most of my style of jokes range from whacky to sexually suggestive jokes, which are more adult-oriented. However, I will make subtle or suggestive implications of those parts through a play of words with no direct vulgarities,” she said.
On the comedic scene in Malaysia, Bibi described how it had grown significantly over the years. “When I first started comedy, there was only five comedians and one comedienne, Joanne Kam Poh Poh. Within the last five to six years, comedy has boomed all around South East Asia, and right now, I think there are about 50 comedians all around Malaysia and Singapore itself, and they are pretty va va voom.”
Currently, Bibi does freelance comedy shows, mostly for dinners and charity show events, while her regular performances can be seen at The Ship, a theme restaurant located at Bukit Bintang with her troupe of performers.
Regarding her recent involvement with the World Animal Groove (WAG) Music Festival held at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching on Oct 25 she said, “I’m always a huge fan of cats and dogs. I have a fat orange cat named Snuggles that is very naughty and likes to fart in my face especially when I’m unable to wake up from my dead sleep.”
This is her third appearance at the festival since 2012, and never fails to entertain with her raunchy and spontaneous jokes, all made in good fun. “It is a privilege and an honour to perform here. Apart from doing good deeds for the animals, I can also do charity as well.”
Apart from Bibi whose performance at this year’s WAG saw her dressed as Elsa from ‘Frozen’, other performers during the evening included Maya (Sarawak), Mel & Joe (Singapore), Jim and the Saucey Soul Band (USA/Indonesia), and Hydra Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), who brought the house down with their amazing performances.
In five to ten years, Bibi said that as long as she can wear heels, climb and run around the stage, she will continue performing, “especially when all I need to do to get paid is to be pretty and make people happy which I count as one of my greatest desires.”
Bibi KPoh, a versatile performer in more ways than one, whether as emcee, dancer, actor, and singer, also had some advice for those who want a career in comedy: “When it comes to comedy, do not try too hard. Most people find our personalities funny. Do not try to be someone else, but be inspired and dare to be different.”