3 Comedians walk into a Barbershop…
They’re everywhere. In every social setting, every friend group, every workplace, living among us, there always seems to be at least one. The joker, the class clown, the funny guy. It seems to be something one is born with; the ability to find the sliver of humor in the mundane, to break the tension of an awkward situation with a wise crack, to bring light into a situation where there seemingly is none, with the simplest of gestures or remarks. Yes, all around us there are people who are born with the ability to make us laugh, and do so organically. And then there are those who make it their life’s work to create laughter.
Structured, choreographed, pre-planned comedy has found a home in all matters and mediums of entertainment across cultures and countries for centuries. Brunei too has had its fair share of funny people who bring laughter to the masses, but it has been in the last five years that in the midst of a growing arts and entertainment scene, we’ve seen the emergence of comedy entertainment in perhaps it’s purest form—Stand Up.
Out of a love for the art-form and the desire to pursue it at home in Brunei, in 2014, Zainal Bostaman and a few close friends turned an office into a performance space and put on their first informal, free comedy show for around 30 of their closest friends. Fast-forward to 2019, Bruhaha has come to be the first and only name that comes to mind when you ask anyone in the know about Stand Up Comedy in Brunei. And they’ve come a long way. In five years of workshops and shows, Bruhaha has built up to putting on sold out performances for up to 700 people, provided a platform for aspiring comics to test their mettle, and been a stepping stone for some to launch a career in the world of comedy.
We sat down with three of Bruhaha’s biggest success stories, Zainal Bostaman, Khai Anwar, and Najib Jaafri at Bercuts Barbershop and got their thoughts on the comedy movement in Brunei, and the careers and endeavors it has propelled them to. Hilarity ensued for the next 40 minutes.
Zainal was a successful engineer working in the oil industry, and making good money from it too. Unable to shake the feeling that he was born for something else, he left his job and jumped head-first into Stand Up Comedy. Over 1,000 shows later, he has performed in London, New York, Melbourne, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur, and continues to pursue bigger laughs, on bigger stages, in front of bigger crowds.
He may be newest member to Bruhaha, but ask either Khai or Zainal, and they’ll say he’s the most naturally talented comic of the bunch. Though new to Stand Up, Najib has always known he has the gift of humour, and saw Bruhaha as his opportunity to explore it. With his infectiously funny comic style being impossible to ignore, Najib was cast as one of the lead roles in Sudah Kah Belum, and has his sights firmly set on greater success in the future.
If Zainal was the heart of Bruhaha, Khai became its brain…or maybe business manager. Regardless of the title, the confident funny man and entrepreneur joined Bruhaha shortly after its inception and helped grow the collective as a platform for aspiring comics. With a keen interest in screenplays and comedy writing, Khai has written an authentically Bruneian sitcom called Sudah Kah Belum. The pilot episode aired on RTB and online on Progresif Media in April, with the full series hot on its heels.