Kumar discusses poverty in stand-up show
Stand-up comedian Kumar shows his serious side by discussing poverty in his show for the first time
You may know him for his outrageous drag performances at Chameleon Lounge Club and the now defunct Boom Boom Room, but local entertainer Kumar will be tackling a more serious issue: Poverty.
He performs his one-night show, The Really Authentic Kumar, at Zouk tonight, in support of Beyond Social Services.
The charity helps underprivileged children and youth escape the poverty cycle, providing resources to keep them in school and out of trouble.
Kumar is volunteering for the event after being approached by Beyond, with all proceeds going towards the charity.
The veteran comedian, who has been entertaining audiences for two decades, promises to bring his trademark sharp-shooting humour featuring politics and sex, with some social messages thrown in.
"I was very inspired by the work Beyond is doing to help families deal with poverty. It was very humbling (speaking to some families)," the 47-year-old funnyman told The New Paper in a phone interview yesterday.
"They were all so poor but they make do with what they have and they're so happy. They don't go around saying 'I'm so poor thing', like some of us tend to.
"It was a wake-up call for me, because many of us are so privileged and blessed."
Among the people he met were a mother of six, a former drug offender now working as a caterer and volunteer with Beyond, and a taxi driver in his mid-thirties with a troubled youth. The latter will join Kumar in his Q&A session after the show, to share more about how Beyond reached out to him.
Kumar, whose real name is Kumar Chinnadurai, was touched by the generosity of the families he met: "One family shared their rice with the neighbours, another made kambing soup for Beyond volunteers who visited them.
"It made me realise Singaporeans have to bring back that kampung spirit. People are so focused on making money but we need to know our neighbours and be nicer to them."
Kumar has been open about his personal struggles, such as having an abusive father and a mother who had difficulty accepting that he was gay: "I can relate to these underprivileged families because I didn't come from a rich family.
"It was very different to be poor during my generation. I didn't feel like we lacked anything as everyone was a little poor then," he said.
"I had 20 cents in my pocket for school, but it was still enough. Most kids now have mobile phones and computers, and not being able to afford them is rare."
Asked how he would tackle the serious topic of poverty in his comedy routine, Kumar said it was all about finding the right tone: "Of course, I won't be making fun of poverty.
"We're not saying 'Haha, they're poor.' That's mockery. Instead, we're tackling the issue in a light-hearted manner.
"I would like people to come out of the show and be inspired to personally help the underprivileged."
Beyond approached Kumar as they felt humour would help people appreciate the serious issue more.
Its executive director Gerard Ee said: "This is something Kumar does particularly well, as he has a lot of empathy for the marginalised.
"He has been incredibly supportive, not only volunteering his time and talent to help us raise much-needed funding but also by showing genuine interest in the young people he has been talking to."
Of course, I won't be making fun of poverty. We're not saying 'Haha, they're poor'... I would like people to come out of the show and be inspired to personally help the underprivileged.
- Funnyman Kumar on tackling a serious topic like poverty
The Really Authentic Kumar
Today 8.30pm to 10.00pm (Doors open at 7.30pm)
$100 (includes one drink) at SISTIC (www.sistic.com.sg). Entry age is 18 and above, with ID required. Event is free standing, with limited seating.