PETALING JAYA, Sept 7 — Laughter in the time of Covid-19 could very well be just what the doctor ordered.
And rather literally, the doctor in question is none other than homegrown comic Dr Jason Leong, who is about to launch an upcoming stand-up special with Netflix on Malaysia Day available in 190 countries.
Dr Jason Leong: Hashtag Blessed is the third comedy stand-up special from Malaysia and sees the former medical doctor showing audiences the best way to navigate roadblocks, mothers-in-law and business class show-offs.
He said in a recent virtual media session, he had always wanted to sell his 2018 show globally and having a Netflix special is a dream come true.
While the jokes and him are unmistakably Malaysian, Dr Leong said viewers don’t have to be Malaysian to get the humour as he wanted to make his content accessible to many.
Ahead of the show’s premiere, Malay Mail caught up with the 33-year-old to find out if comedians faced any pressure to cheer people up during these unprecedented times and the challenges ahead.
He didn’t feel a weight of responsibility to make others laugh amid the pandemic but Dr Leong felt that comics were the ones who needed a dose of humour.
“We are all going insane because of the fact that we can’t do live stand-up comedy,” he said.
However, he acknowledged the positive effect comedy had on weary minds, giving them a sense of comfort while the pandemic rages on.
He witnessed this during his All Day Show with No Budget with Jason Leong that recorded astronomical views which he launched shortly after the movement control order (MCO) was announced.
“I could feel that when I made people laugh, they appreciate it a lot more because it made them feel a bit safe when the world is so uncertain — that’s a really powerful thing.
“So I think during this MCO I felt that the platform we have as stand-up comedians is very powerful and we should be grateful about it and use it as much as we can,” Dr Leong said.
While his approach to stand-up has remained the same during Covid-19, he admitted that it forced him to learn new skills for the digital space.
“I had to learn how to do online content talking about politics and the situation in Malaysia.
“It’s a different skill set which I should have had already even without a lockdown so I’m grateful, I have the opportunity to hone these new skills that I have,” he added.
On his lockdown routine, the father of one, who welcomed a daughter last October with his wife Dr S. Komella Anne, says his daughter Aria has kept him busy.
“She’s so cute, she’s a really smiley baby — we may be biased but she definitely smiles a lot more than the average baby.”
Dr Leong commended the Health Ministry for their efforts in curbing the spread of Covid-19 and said he was optimistic that live stand-up comedy will fully return in 2021.
The only challenge comedians have right now is logistical problems of putting on live shows.
One thing is for sure, fans can expect Covid-19 and MCO-related jokes in Dr Leong’s future material.
“It’s hard not to talk about it because this is our World War III, this is an event that has touched everyone on planet Earth’s lives.
“Things have changed from pre-Covid to post-Covid so it’ll definitely be reflected in our stand-up comedy,” he said.
Dr Jason Leong: Hashtag Blessed premieres on September 16 on Netflix.