Cover Photo: Grant Corban

Discover more about Douglas Lim, the comedian and actor who has kept Malaysians in stitches during lockdown

From vaccination registration woes to pop culture and Twitter feuds, Douglas Lim never fails to see the humour in day-to-day life; and not even a pandemic can get in his way. Granted, like many other stand-up comedians and emcees, Lim's live performances came to an abrupt halt in early 2020 when news of the first MCO hit. 

"The pandemic effectively killed the live entertainment industry and stand-up comedy is predominantly done with a live audience," quips the former Kopitiam actor, who also starred as 'Tauke Kopitiam' in the hit production of OlaBola The Musical in 2018. "It used to be that laughter is the best medicine. With the virus, laughter is also a damn good way of spreading the virus!"  

Even so, people have been seeking out Lim's hilarious video parodies online, and now, a year later, he is still slaying it with his signature brand of caustic wit and fun. Read on to find out what fuels the imagination and musical stylings of this multi-talented funnyman and what makes him tick while in lockdown. 

Related: 9 Questions With Malaysian Stand-Up Comedian Kavin Jay

When life plays you for a fool, laugh along.
Douglas Lim

What are some misconceptions you always hear about being a comedian in Malaysia?

Many people seem to think that comedians tell jokes all the time. This is very untrue. Most times, we are fairly boring people with uninteresting lives (laughs). 

What first got you interested in comedy?

I've always enjoyed attention and reactions from people. When you do comedy, you get that instant reaction from people, good or bad. I think my earliest influences were circus clowns and cartoons.

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What makes you laugh?

I laugh quite easily. Silly things, unexpected reactions, funny animal videos all make me laugh. I guess I'm comfortable with many types of humour from stand-up to internet jokes, sketch comedy to slapstick. If it is fundamentally funny and doesn't look forced, I'll probably laugh. Still not sure I understand memes, though...

How has humour helped you personally in life?

It's what I do professionally. It has helped me find work and get paid. It has helped me connect with some very important and talented people because having a sense of humour generally makes you more approachable and friendly. It has also definitely helped me manage some rather stressful events.

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Are there any comedians you look up to? 

I think Dave Chappelle is one of the most gifted stand-up comedians of his generation. His writing and comedy craft is just an absolute joy to watch. Michael McIntyre is also very refreshing to watch because he is so playful. His observational comedy is extremely relatable (across borders) and this is something very hard to achieve.

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How did you adapt your craft to the changes of the pandemic in 2020? 

I basically started doing more online funny videos. Brands and companies started noticing these videos and so I started getting offers to make funny videos for clients. It's a lot more work than stand-up, but at least there's work, so I can't complain.

Give us some insight on how you come up with ideas for your videos.

Almost all of my comedy is based on observations. So it always starts with just being aware of what's going on—in entertainment, in politics, in public opinion and so on. Then once I identify a topic, I work on getting a premise for the joke. Then I try out several options in terms of execution (extended metaphor, word play, impersonations). There's a fair bit of preparation as I prefer to write and flesh out my ideas fully before producing the video.

Tell us about your latest music video, For Better For Worse.

This was quite a trip for me because I had left the music industry for a long time. It was super fun to work on this project as I reconnected with some of my music friends to help me produce the song. I really liked working with Reuben Kang and his team at Imagineers Film. They had a young and energetic team, which was refreshing since I'm already kind of old and tired (hahaha).

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In your experience, how does having a good sense of humour help us cope with life's challenges?

Humans have been known to use humour as a soothing balm to a crisis; as a sort of coping mechanism. This pandemic has left us feeling quite vulnerable. Many people have had to endure changes and are suffering through no fault of theirs.

So there is also this sense of unfairness and injustice. Humour, when done well, can help you isolate these feelings, look at them in a different way and manage them. When life plays you for a fool, laugh along.

Ultimately, what do you want to achieve with your content? 

I just want to make people laugh. It has always been about that. It is paramount. I am a comedian, not an activist. I am a normal guy who lives in Malaysia and is affected by the same stresses and irritations. The main difference is, I use comedy to address these feelings and opinions while others might prefer debates, confrontations or lamentations.

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