REVIEW: Kumar still kills it at 50 with a heartfelt look at his life story

Marcus Goh
Contributor
PHOTO: Dream Academy

I steeled myself for relentless, rapid-fire laughs at “Kumar50”. The posters promised loud and over-the-top humour in Kumar’s signature style, but that sort of hilarity requires a lot of energy from the audience, something that you need to be prepared for. I gripped and gulped a drink in hand (not a strong one, mind you) as I waited for the show to commence.

Predictably, Kumar came out in a flamboyant dress-cake (or is it a cake-dress) festooned with plenty of glittery little bits that you weren’t sure if you should be looking at. It made a fair amount of sense though, given that “Kumar50” is a show about the titular performer’s life story (he turns 50 on 10 August, if you’d like to send him your birthday wishes).

PHOTO: Dream Academy

To my surprise, it wasn’t a sex joke extravaganza. It wasn’t all about lewd and crude comedy. There were plenty of intelligent, witty, excellent quips that tickled you in places other than the nether regions.

It was a beautifully balanced assortment of humour.

What was amazing about “Kumar50” was the number of nuances stuffed in between all the lines. Kumar would occasionally explain a more subtle joke when it seemed to have flown over the audiences heads, but he was content to let the less overt jokes lie. Then again, the audience that day was a stark contrast of lukewarm supporters in the front and excited theatregoers at the back, a fact that Kumar was quick to point out.

That’s not to say that we didn’t get the requisite number of adult jokes, which is probably the draw for many audiences, nor did it mean that Kumar had somehow mellowed in this performance. Far from it. His palpable energy was infectious and enthusiastic, sending everyone spiralling into bouts of laughter at the payoffs of his gags.

However, there was a slight sense of wistfulness as the comedian spun his yarns, baring the naked truth for all to see.

PHOTO: Dream Academy

What was particularly touching was his love for his showgirls on stage and a pre-recorded interview segment at the end, when each of the performers talked about the challenges they faced in life and how their encounters with Kumar made a difference. It was treacle cut before it got too sappy, but it added a thoughtful dimension to the entire performance.

There were also song-and-dance routines which showcased the superb coordination and lip synching skills of Kumar and his showgirls, although that was more of the icing on the cake than the main attraction itself. Needless to say, their quick and fancy costume changes were as entertaining as ever.

PHOTO: Dream Academy

Kumar may be heading into his 50s, but he shows that he still has it (and that elusive “it” is still as hard to define, years down the road). It was a pleasant surprise to see him showcase his range and depth with “Kumar50”, even as I left with my drink unfinished.

It was that engrossing.

Duration: About 90 minutes with a 20 minute intermission

Dates: 28 Feb (Wed) – 11 Mar (Sun), 2018

Showtimes: Tue – Fri: 8pm, Sat & Sun: 3pm 

Tickets for Kumar50 are available on SISTIC.

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for “Lion Mums”, “Crimewatch”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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