YouTube duo MunahHirzi makes curtain call
Munah Bagharib and Hirzi Zulkiflie bring their comedy YouTube channel MunahHirziOfficial to a close
Upon realising last year that they had produced 10 instalments of their popular Hari Raya video series Hari Raya In The City, Munah Bagharib and Hirzi Zulkiflie knew the time had come to bring their comedy YouTube channel to a close.
It was always an "unspoken rule" to end it after a decade, when they were still in their 20s, as they knew they could not "be a duo forever".
They have over 32 million views and more than 144,000 subscribers on MunahHirziOfficial (MHO).
The pioneers of the local YouTube scene started making their name alongside the likes of reality lifestyle channel clicknetwork.tv and blogger Mr Brown.
By the end of the month, the best friends will be saying goodbye to their online platform of about 10 years after announcing the channel's closure earlier this year.
Their final farewell to their partnership will be on Jan 24 with a one-night-only concert Munah & Hirzi Live: Curtain Call at the Capitol Theatre.
The stage production will commemorate the closing of MHOwith a loose narrative incorporating popular MHO characters, including Leticiacia, Minahs, Aunties, Shah and the Makciks.
Munah, 29, told The New Paper: "We are proud of, and humbled by, the opportunities presented to us...
"The local YouTube scene has become a platform for people who want to be heard and think it is an easy way to get fame, but they forget that it is a lot of hard work."
People watched the Minahs for entertainment, but there was also a lot (more) to the videos... When we were vulnerable, the characters, especially the Minahs, picked us up. Hirzi Zulkiflie
Hirzi, 28, added: "It is almost like a torch relay, where you pass on your legacy to the next batch.
"We hope that the closure (will lead to) others who consider themselves artists, more than just content creators, creating works of art online."
Hirzi said they had planned MHO's end as early as January last year but wanted to give fans - many of whom "are still in denial" - time to come to terms with it.
He confessed he has been "so scared" about the upcoming show, but it was Munah who let slip that he was constipated for 10 days due to nerves.
Hirzi said: "That just means you care... If I am not scared about something, then I am worried.
"Even if I am performing many routines, if I am not worried about it, then it means I don't care and that is not good."
Sitting on the floor of their rehearsal space at Anson Road, tears were shed during the hour-long interview as the duo looked back on a decade of humorous guerilla-style videos, dares and music video parodies that saw Hirzi perform in drag, featured strong language and covered topics such as sex, politics and race.
Their most viewed video is Minahconda, a parody of Nicki Minaj's hit song Anaconda, with more than 835,000 views.
They consider it their "magnum opus" - as well as their series of videos chronicling the life of a "minah", the stereotype of a Malay woman who dresses provocatively.
Hirzi said of their significance: "People watched the Minahs for entertainment, but there was also a lot (more) to the videos... When we were vulnerable, the characters, especially the Minahs, picked us up."
MHO's final video is rumoured to be a parody of US pop star Taylor Swift's Look What You Made Me Do, which will be released soon.
The pair originally intended to shut down MHO in 2012, as they felt they had "reached their peak" after landing their first stage show alongside local comedians Gurmit Singh and Michelle Chong in Happy Ever After and their own Suria TV show Munah & Hirzi: Action!.
The series received complaints from a group of conservative Muslims who accused Munah and Hirzi of being "inappropriate" role models for Malay youth.
Hirzi said: "We thought of retiring the channel and pursuing mainstream careers full force... But if we retired then, it would have been a defeated retirement, not a celebratory one."
The duo cited 2012 as the "turning point" for MHO, after which they started making videos "with a purpose" rather than purely for entertainment.
That year, with their parody of US pop star Beyonce's Run The World (Girls), they advocated for a mandatory day off for all domestic workers in Singapore.
In October this year, the pair explored their Malay heritage and family names in a collaboration with The History Channel.
"In that instance (in 2012), it was destiny telling us, 'Not yet'," Hirzi said.
Munah was quick to jump in with a laugh, adding: "Yeah, but right now, all signs are saying we should stop now."
On what they will miss the most, Munah said, her voice shaking: "I have never experienced chemistry with any human like I do with Hirzi.
"I have worked with a lot of others but I have never had a special bond like I do with him."
Fighting back tears, Hirzi said: "Munah is always the one person whom I know, whatever happens, is my support system. Through this decade, she has sometimes been as supportive as my immediate family."
Although it has not been easy striking a balance between their personal and professional relationship, they have never wanted to throw in the towel.
They make an effort to "reset work mode to friendship mode" after stressful days.
While they will be going their separate ways professionally, this will not be the last fans see of them.
Munah has plans to continue acting in the theatre scene, while Hirzi hinted he may be back on the Internet soon.
On what they have learnt over the years, Hirzi cracked a smile and quipped: "I will always be late."
He then added on a more serious note: "Everything is going to be all right. Your biggest dreams should scare you. That is okay."
WHAT Munah & Hirzi Live: Curtain Call
WHERE Capitol Theatre
WHEN Jan 24, 8pm
TICKETS $65 from mho10.peatix.com Advisory 16 (Some Mature Content)