Papa made up this song

I felt strangely proud this morning when I drove Kai to preschool. The car stereo had yesterday switched to The Hossan Leong Show CD (in the CD changer since 2009). When I started the car after strapping him into his kiddie seat, this song started playing, and Kai was mesmerized, and when it ended, asked what song it was, who sang it, and whether I could play it again.

Later at home, he recalled and sang the chorus, some bits of verses, and asked if he could listen to it again.

It’s called “No Outside Food”, Uncle Hossan sang it and Papa made up the words.

I forgot to tell him music arranger extraordinaire Elaine Chan made the music and decided it should be a reggae piece (there’s a Cantopop ballad version).

I’m just not sure if he should sing it to his friends in preschool though.

What is Mr Bean’s job?

I’ve just finished making minor script adjustments before the show’s final full dress rehearsal, and Karen Tan’s just asked me this question – what is Mr Bean’s job?

She thinks maybe accountant or auditor. I’m thinking civil servant. Any other answers?

Hysterical Comedy

The first reaction to any MDA action is usually anger – then after letting it sink in for a little bit, we thought it really funny.

The production company thinks it’s a new category of advisory, this “satirical comedy” rating. And we’re scouring through the script to see what the hells I’ve written that has made the people at the MDA give us this groundbreaking honor.

It’s not the sex, we took that out. There is no violence except for one scene, and that’s pretty mild. I took out the bit about the PM’s pink wardrobe, so that can’t be it, unless they were reading an older version of the script.

What this actually means is that people under 16 have to be accompanied by older people, and the news that this is “satirical comedy” has to be publicized on ticketing outlets as well as at the theatre doors.

Still, I’m quite thrilled we’ve gotten this advisory, even though I’ve written R18 shows (Kumar) before.

Officially endorsed by Garmen!

Kick-ass show coming up

We open on Sep 23, which is smack just before the F1 weekend. We couldn’t get a mini F1 kart on the show, so we’re making do with a mini racing motorcycle for Hossan to ride on stage. And no, we’re not attempting to outdo Mediacorp’s President’s Scar Charity.

It’s just over a week to opening night and we’re getting really excited now – the theatre veterans (of which I’m not a part) in the production have been eating like mad during rehearsals, because it wouldn’t be a Dream Academy production if there weren’t a variety of junk food on the meeting table outside the rehearsal studio.

This is Judee Tan’s first Dream production, and she says that while there is also food at other theatre companies’ rehearsals, there really is nothing like Dream’s constant flow of food – today alone we had brownies, mooncakes, donuts and curry puffs.

We might get some fried chicken from Popeye’s tomorrow cos we’re trying to get director George Chan fat.

About Hossan Leong Show’s “censorship”

I was horrified at first when I heard that the MDA had issues with the script that was written for the Hossan Leong Show (Sep 23 – Oct 9), then indignant when I found out further that someone had taken offense and complained about the words, “Halal Vegetarian Babi Pongteh”, which was a dish to be concocted by “Bibik Lim”, a recurring character in the show.

The offending words were also in the publicity material distributed around the island.

This is how things unfolded: Last year, at the end of “Bibik Lim”‘s skit, she (Bibik Lim) decided to tell the audience about the next dish she was about to prepare: something that was all-inclusive, all-embracing – and came up with the name which was subsequently used as part of publicity material for this year’s show, which was printed some time in April this year.

The name of the dish was completely ad-libbed (by Hossan Leong), and off the cuff. It was, as you can imagine, never meant to offend.

On the contrary, the creative team behind the show have always struck for a story arc of sorts that told of our country’s multi-culturalism and its attendant difficulties. It is obviously very ironic that in trying to do so, we’ve stuffed up and offended someone’s religious and racial sensitivities.

I know what they say about the road to hell, but there is no excuse for me not spotting the fact that the simple juxtaposition of the two words “halal” and “babi” would have been likely to cause offense.

I therefore apologize unreservedly to the gentleman who spotted the offending copy on the flier, who was upset enough to write to the local Malay-language paper. The production company has, on the direction of the MDA, recalled every poster and flier from every distribution point in Singapore.

This is, however, a chance for a sensible talking point, and I have always been an advocate for more discussion about our country’s racial/religious diversity, with the view that the more we talk, the more we’ll understand. This is sadly and dangerously lacking – as is attested by an exchange between students at SMU earlier this year.

In the meantime, the MDA has also asked that we revise the offending portion of the show itself. While we are loathe to do so — because it is comedy variety show, and in comedy variety shows, there will be some people who will be offended — we have agreed to their request because, amongst other things, the team behind “Bibik Lim” had spent weeks cracking their brains trying unsuccessfully to work out how to make ‘halal vegetarian babi pongteh’ anyway.

You could say that as a result of this debacle, “Bibik Lim” is currently experimenting with a few new racially inclusive, new migrant embracing dishes with a Peranakan twist. No, Assam Ox-Tongue Wrapped in Beef Cheek is not one of them. But I encourage everyone to give Bibik Lim’s dishes a shot – come and watch her on the Hossan Leong Show (23 September – 9 October, Drama Centre Theatre).