Thursday, December 30, 2021

Remembering 2021

 So 2021 has been weird, hasn’t it? Right when we thought that the nightmare that was 2020 was coming to a close, it came back with a vengeance, globally and locally. I cannot say that for me personally, things have been amazing, but I am in zero position to complain. It’s been chee. Let the recounting begin!


January both feels like a million years ago, and yesterday, at once. I check my instagram and there’s pretty much nothing of note there for January. My calendar does not say anything significant either. Even when listening to the Buah Mulut podcast, nothing very notable pops up.

I mostly just attended writer’s meetings throughout the month for the various TV projects that I’d eventually be writing on later in the year. I did some Pinball Monkeys recordings with Muzakir and Farid. And recorded a podcast episode as part of the Pinball Monkeys on Safehouse’s podcast called Mulut Murai. Fun stuff.


Bulan dua pun not very eventful jugak. Got the meetings. Got pitch deck-making. Got game nights, where Muzakir, myself and a few more friends played Jackbox games through Google Meets. Fun times.


In March things started kicking into gear sikit. I was on the set of Sa Balik Baju (which is now available for viewing on Netflix). This was an interesting project which started off as a stage play by Siti Afiza Asram. Then she brought the piece to a writing workshop yang dianjurkan oleh Redcomm, and it got expanded to a feature-length movie. I got a small role in it, being one of the hosts in a fictional gossip/talk show. I got to be on set with Alif Satar, Juliana Evans and Farah Rani. At the time of shooting it, we didn’t know where the movie was going to end up yet. After dah siap, baru Lina Tan and the gang shopped it around for any takers, and Netflix swooped in and bought it. So now I can say that I have acted in a Netflix film (although I will not admit to it, since it’s just a small role, with me having less than two minutes of screen time sahaja). It was certainly an unexpected thing to have happened to me, but I am mucho grateful that it did.

Later that month, I started work on the play Orang Bulan. I was cast opposite Kak Dzeelfa in the two-hander play. I like spending time with Kak Dzeelfa, she’s loads of fun to be around. It was directed by Chris Ling, stage managed by Maza Maamor (aka Zameer), assisted by Emma Raj (who I’ve grown to be good friends with), and sound designed by Kirthana. It was a good time, and we staged it at the end of April. The rehearsals were fine, but of course my anxious ass was worried about whether or not I’d be able to get off-book in time for the staging. I eventually did, but goodness gracious did I cut it real close.

Pasca Sini was involved in a show called “Lepas Gian” at Angkasa Cheras. That was our first show in MONTHS, and we certainly were able to Lepas Gian at that one. It felt so good to be on stage again playing music to people who gave a shit.


In April, Pasca Sini played another show, at Stesen Seni, Damansara Perdana. We played before Timemachine, and in our set were like four Blink182 songs. That was also a good time. I was finally able to learn some Blink182 songs, after putting it off for so long.

Pinball Monkeys performed our very first self-organised show on the 9th of April. It was a closed-door event, meaning that it was invite-only, but we managed to fill up Stesen Seni. We did live long-form improv in front of people again, and we had loads and loads of fun. I remember that there were sushi-serving lawyers, and a lot of imaginary boxes. The show tickets were by the pay-what-you-want model, and we even made a little itty bitty cheeky little profit from it, so we could pay for the venue and our improviser buddies, so that was uber cool. The audience was uber cool.

By the end of the month, we were staging Orang Bulan at PJ Performing Arts Centre di One Utama. It was the first time that the space (Nero Space) was being used to put up a play, and we did an okay job with it, selling out our nights there. I liked playing there, and I had fun staging the play with people that I liked being around and coming to watch me play a KL-speaking Moon Miner from the future. Good times.


Whoa, May was quite uneventful for me. Mostly just busy work in terms of pitch deck making, script prepping, script writing and meetings and that. Raya happened, which was fine. I don’t remember much of it. I just hung out with Taka and family and that.

The final week of May was also the start of the Ex Aku Pontianak writer’s rooms. Ex Aku Pontianak was a show that I conceived to pitch to Astro a couple of months prior, and they picked it up so we started writing it. It was my first time head-writing a project, so Shamyl Othman (the director) took a lot of the reins as I tried to settle into the leadership position that is the Head Writer.

The writer’s room sessions were conducted through Zoom, and lemme tell ya, I hate Zoom writer’s rooms. My focus went more out than in, and I was not fully there most of the time. I really disliked it. But we got through it, with the help of Shamyl and Suzanne, keeping me accountable. We finished the writer’s room sessions with some pretty alright episodes for us to work on, and we started work on the scripts the following month.


Early June was my first vaccination date. 6/6/2021. I went to IDCC Shah Alam and got my shot no problem. It was rather smooth sailing, as there weren’t many people there during my time slot. So I was in and out within 30 minutes.

I was also writing the launch episode of the Fourth Season of Club Mickey Mouse. They recorded it through Zoom and published it on Youtube. It was called Fanfest, where a bunch of the fans of CMM were involved in the playing of the games and such. Not many people watched, if I’m not mistaken. I’m just glad that it’s over and done with. Remembering it makes my bones tired.

I was also writing through the beats of Ex Aku Pontianak, making the building blocks of a story (hopefully) worth telling.


I was tasked to write 5 episodes of Ex Aku Pontianak (episodes 1, 2, 3, 8 & 9). The whole season ada 10 episodes, so I wrote half of it from scratch. Writing it was fun, because it was my first time writing dialogue for adults, as opposed to the children’s shows I’d been writing for thus far. It was certainly a different head-space to be in, and I found myself being able to do much more when writing for adults, so that was fun.

And as head writer, I also had to go through and “fix” the other scripts, so that the characters voices were consistent throughout the show, and that everything flowed the way that it needed to for smooth storytelling.

I was also writing some episodes for SMK Season 3. They were to be recorded via Zoom, so the approach to writing the episodes was rather novel to me. I think we ended up writing an engaging enough season, given the limitations that we had. Kudos to Suzanne for Head Writing the season.


I got my second AZ vaccine dose on the 8th of August. It was just as smooth sailing as the first dose, malah maybe it was even more smooth this time round. 

I continued writing and revising the Ex Aku Pontianak episodes here also.

Also, the SMK Season 3 cast got new actors in, and one of them had to speak in an Utara accent, and I was tasked with coaching her Utara. She wasn’t too bad, just a few things here and there that were quite specific to Utara people ja that she got wrong and/or confused about. Generally, she was fine.


In September, I got cast in another play. It was called Logaritme Bebalisme, a ten minute play about a specific kampung during the height of the pandemic. I was acting alongside Shasha, and it was directed by Chris Ling and stage managed by Kir. We rehearsed throughout September, first through Zoom (I hate Zoom rehearsals), then IRL at Lot’ng. 

I was putting the finishing touches on the Ex Aku Pontianak scripts, as well as writing for some SMK Youtube things.


We continued rehearsing for Logaritme Bebalisme this month, and staged it at Stor Teater Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. It was part of a theatre competition that was organised by DBP, and Shasha and I were the oldest actors there. We eventually got second place in the competition, which was fine.

Ex Aku Pontianak commenced shooting this month. The shoot schedule was a month long, for ten episodes. I was on set for 3 or 4 days to play some roles in the show, so I’ll have some screen time here and there. The shoots proved to be tough on the team, but they powered through like the professionals they are.


The Ex Aku Pontianak shoots concluded mid-November. I was there for the last day of shoot, because I had a small role on the day. It was fun to watch and be around the energy that was there. I eventually balik awal (like, 3am maybe?) because my scenes dah habis record, so I wasn’t there when they presumably shouted IT’S A WRAP!

November was a month of pitch-deck making, so there’s not much to say there.

I also wrote an air-fryer online ad for Philips. So that was weird, but okay lah, one minute long ja the ad pun.


Early December, I took a couple days off work to go to Cameron Highlands with Taka for a weekend getaway of rest and chilling. It was a good time. We went to the Mossy Forest, and the Boh tea plantation thingy, and spent a lot of time just chillin’ at the hotel, napping, reading, resting. Good times.

I was also tasked with writing, directing and producing three social media videos for Redcomm during this time. It was three videos for three occasions: Christmas, New Years, and CNY. We’ve shot all three, published the Christmas one, and are waiting to put out the other two. I worked closely with Suzanne throughout the thing. Brain Wong and Izzaldin helped a bunch as well. We ended up with fun leel videos.

A sad note is when the floods happened in the Klang Valley area this month. My car got stranded at a cemetery parking lot (safe from the flood, fortunately), and I had to walk back home. I was very fortunate that I was able to walk home. Many people were stranded without a place to go. Some completely lost their homes. And I didn’t know how to help.

I just tried my best to amplify the people that needed the most help on twitter, and tried to do my best to help out secara langsung in my own limited capacity. It sucked not having a humongous amount of resources to help more people. It absolutely sucked.

But it was beautiful to see how people banded together and helped each other out. I had a front row seat to that, and it was wonderful. I hate that it took a natural disaster and systemic failure for this to show itself, but it was still beautiful to see. When people help people, people win. Fuck the people in power. Anarchy is the way to go.

Besides that, I also read a 70-chapter novel and wrote a summary of it. I enlisted the help of Emma to do a percentage of it, and we got it done in two days. It was tough, but we got through it. And hopefully the project takes off next year, and we can turn it into something worth watching.


And that was 2021. It was mostly filled with written-work things. Not a lot of stage work, since the cases were soaring throughout the year, and the lockdowns came back again and again. One hopes that next year is better for everyone. Fuck the patriarchy, fuck the ruling class, fuck capitalism.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Remembering 2020 (Part 2)

 To read Part 1, click here.

Blogging huh? I recently listened to a Good One podcast episode where the host (Jesse David Fox) spoke to his friend and former fellow blogger Kelly Conaboy about their blogging heydays in the late aughts early tens, and it reminded me of how much I used to care about blogging. I would actively put in the effort to make sure that I wrote on here consistently and would feel bad for going through months without blogging. How I didn't know I actually wanted to be a full-time writer yet at the time, I will never know. I think that is worth exploring, but maybe in a different post. In this post, it's Part 2 of my 2020 wrap up.


So by the time April rolled around, I had already written a full first draft of a play script and I was feeling pretty chuffed about it. I was riding that accomplishment high all lockdown long. Lucky for me, at the beginning of this month, a local production company (RedComm) put out a call for writers to submit their work samples to them for them to choose who could join their first ever online workshop thing. I submitted two things: a sitcom idea and the play script that I had just written the month previous. I ended up getting to join the workshop to develop the sitcom idea.

I was part of 8 participants, and it was held over Zoom, and the workshop was conducted by Malaysian screenwriter Rafidah Abdullah with help from producer and CEO of RedComm Lina Tan as well as tv and film director Shamyl Othman. Basically we worked on our idea in the span of five days and got it to a point where it could be pitched to networks and funders. It was a very eye-opening experience for me, learning how to take the kernel of an idea and developing it to become coherent enough for other people to get what I was trying to do. I learned how to write a logline, a treatment, how to write scenes, how to make an idea "pop". Plus, I also got to listen in on the other writers' ideas and their processes. It was a very cool experience. This experience would also pave the way for me to get a job at RedComm as a writer in September, but we're getting ahead of ourselves here.

Pasca Sini also released DMB as a single in April (20 haribulan 4, 420 gitu). DMB has been quite well received by many people in our listenership. It's not stacking the kind of numbers that Dichotomy did, but it's definitely looking like it's gonna be a staple at our live shows nanti when we can do that again.


May was mostly empty in terms of activities for me. I got to go back into the Ripple office by the middle of the month, after working from home for two months. It was nice to be able to get out of the house again, and it was nice that the number of cases at the time were consistently below a hundred a day (remember those days? Good times). I liked being able to be around work friends again, feeling a little bit more normal as the days went by. It was strange in the beginning of course. At any one time at the office, there weren't more than ten people (from an original fifty), and we were distancing from each other physically. But we got to shoot in the studio again, so that was cool.

Also, Pasca Sini organised our very first online streaming gig at Angkasa Space. We roped in our friends Motherwit and W/SH to play with us too. It was our first time in a long long time playing music together again, and it felt good to be able to do that again, but it also felt super strange playing a show that had no audience members, just camera crew there. Also, my in ear monitor was on the fritz throughout the show, so I wasn't able to enjoy it as much as I would have liked. But overall, it was a super nice time to be able to play music again with the band after going such a long time without playing anything.


There weren't much going on in June for me either. I recorded a storytelling video for Kaki Seni in which I read from a book called Shadows that was written by Maya Zaharudin and illustrated by Shufitri Mohd Shukardi. The experience was cool, as it felt like I was doing voice-over work for cartoons. I got to make up different voices for different characters and play around with my voice in fun ways. But because I hadn't used my voice that intensely in such a long time, by the end of the second take of reading, my voice was really cracking up, and I'm glad we didn't have to do it a third time.

Besides that, this was also the first time the state borders had opened up, so my family met up in Kuala Krai, Kelantan to visit my grandfather who had recently lost his wife (my grandmother) during the lockdowns. I remember trying to go to Kuala Krai the first time while the borders were still closed the month previous, and we were turned away by police as we were entering Bentong, Pahang.

It was cool to be able to gather with my parents and brothers again. We hung out as we do whenever we're in Kuala Krai, tried to teman Tok Ayah and visited Nenek's grave.

Sometime towards the end of this month was also the first time I got to shoot The Nasi Kandar Show with DestinasiTV. They texted me asking if I'd be interested in hosting for a new show of theirs and I was like "You want to pay me to eat and talk in front of a camera? Sure, why not?" I'll talk about it some more in July.


This was the month in which I stopped being a part of Thelaki and Ripple Media. I had been there for almost two years (since September 2018), and it was time for me to move on and see what other things I could do outside of creating videos for the internet. I even made a farewell video for Thelaki's Youtube viewers. On my last day, I wrote personalised hand-written letters to everyone I cared about in the office thanking them for being a part of my life in their respective capacities. I had never done such a thing, and it felt nice to do. I think I'll keep the practice for myself in the future. It was a cool two years of my life, learning for myself that there is a future for me in a predominantly creative field. I got to do some pretty cool things with some pretty cool people. I met some amazing people who will forever stay in my thoughts and prayers. 

July was also the first time I got hired to write as a freelance for a TV show (the show title sounds like Slub Milky Mouth). I was tasked to write three episodes, and this was a massive learning experience for me as well. I got to participate in writer's room discussions. I got to pitch ideas, get my ideas shot down, learn the script format for this particular show and draw from my teacher training to come up with games that could be used for the show.

Besides that, I got to speak on a forum in Publika that discussed the topic of "Breaking Perspectives About Good Influencers In Malaysia". I was the only person in the panel who had no idea what he was talking about, but at least I was able to make the socially-distanced audience laugh a handful of times throughout the forum thing, so that was cool.

And another thing that happened in July was my first time ever being involved in a live sketch comedy show. I was pulled in by Harith Iskander to rehearse for and perform at the Blackbox in Publika a show called Lawak Mantul, which was staged on the 24th of July. It was a fun experience, as I got to work with the funniest people I know (such as Mozek, Farid, Mad Sabah, Abe, Prakash, etc.) in front of a receptive and socially distanced audience. The show was also streamed live on Facebook, or so I was told. There are a few clips from it here. I talked about it on a Mentol Pecah podcast episode and went into detail about how the experience was for me. You can listen to it here if you'd like.

This month was also the month in which I went to see a psychiatrist for the first time. I went to Pusat Perubatan Universiti Malaya with my wife, and we both met doctors that day. Taka got diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and got medication. My diagnosis was more "low mood" or something or other, nothing too serious that needed any medication. We spoke about this at length in a Buah Mulut podcast episode, if you're interested in the whole process.

This was also when we went to Perak to shoot a few more episodes of The Nasi Kandar Show. I got to bring Taka along on this trip and it became like a work trip for us, as during the day I'd be shooting the episodes, and in the evenings we had time to go around Ipoh, walk around and see the sights together. It was a nice time to spend with each other, and the food was nice. The Nasi Kandar Show has allowed me to be in the more public public eye since the beginning of IniAnwarHadi, as I started being recognised by people I wouldn't expect to recognise me (mostly people in the food biz, but also the layperson who watches Youtube content). I felt like I was getting exposure outside my niche for a bit, and it felt familiar but also strange at the same time.

All in all, quite an eventful July ya nampaknya?


August was taken up by mostly writing scripts for the aforementioned show. I did a bunch of writing at a new space that I like called Safehouse KL. It's in TTDI and it used to be IntunNation. It's a chill place and I liked being there. It felt like I was a cool kid doing work among other cool kids. Boleh la takat nak pretend.

I went to watch a live standup show by Mad Sabah. He's one of the best standup comedians in Malaysia right now, and the hour that he delivered that night really was such a fun and sakit perut gelak kinda night. I went with Taka, and she enjoyed it very much as well. I recommend catching his standup whenever things open back up again.

I also went on a family vacation in Melaka during this month. My mother's side of the family organised a family trip for us to go to Melaka. We rented a homestay type place and stayed there for a weekend. We played games and baca Yasin and ate and chilled. It was a nice time.

The Pinball Monkeys also performed on stage for the first time since lockdown in August. I don't remember much of the show, as I am wont to do, but I do know that it felt great to be doing improv again with the Pinball Monkeys compadres. 

At the end of the month, Pinball Monkeys launched our Patreon page and improvised sketch comedy podcast. It's a weekly podcast where each episode is 20-30 minutes of improvised silliness made by Mozek, Farid and myself. We have so much fun making it, foreal. And in this iteration of the podcast, we feel like we've finally found a form and rhythm that works for us, in which we get to consistently make stuff that we like and let other people listen to them.


A lot of September was taken up by theatre rehearsals. I was involved in two out of the seven short plays in the show called Romansiprokal: Darah Malam Pertama and Fault Sapa. All the short plays were ones written by the Penang playwright Yusof Bakar. I went to Revolution Stage quite regularly to rehearse the plays and it was good to be able to spend time with my theatre director friends again.

I also attended a local film festival at this time. It was called Pesta Filem Kita and it was held at Ruang by Think City KL on the 12th of September. I was able to sit in on a masterclass by U-Wei Hajisaari, listen to some forums, talked a little bit tu Amir Muhammad, and watch a handful of short films made by local film makers. It was a nice experience, but I did end up feeling rather lonely, as I did not go with any friends (I don't even know who in my friend list would even be remotely interested in going to this type of thing) and although I met a few acquaintances when I was there, it did feel like a solo activity for me in the end, which was fine, but I did long to feel like I belonged, as can be easily predicted.

On the 15th, it was my first day of being a full time writer at RedComm. Towards the end of August, I had gotten really antsy about my job prospects. I knew that I wanted to be a full time writer, but how and where? I had no idea. I had applied to a bunch of places to become a writer, and in my desperation I even ended up sending in my resume to places that needed content creators. But I knew I wanted to be a script writer. I wanted to write for the screen. I had been wanting to write for the screen for a long long time. And I finally got to make it my full time job. It felt super nice and reaffirming and satisfying and anxiety-alleviating. I'm here now. I'm so grateful.

Pinball Monkeys performed once at The Joke Factory while still continuing to upload weekly sketches on our Patreon page. Pasca Sini also performed at a live stream show called Sadtember with some other local rock bands in the line up. I don't know if they're ever going to release the full show, but here is us playing DMB on the night.


I started October with staging the Romansiprokal plays. It was an anxiety-inducing time also, since Covid cases were going back up to triple digits. On top of that, I was down but not out with a runny nose and cold (it wasn't Covid, but I still didn't want to get my fellow theatre pals to catch what I was having, so I had my mask on almost all of the time). It was nice to be able to do theatre again, but our run of shows had to be cut short since the number of Covid cases had made it untenable for us to continue with the staging anymore. It was sad, but it was also the right thing to do.

Besides that, Pasca Sini recorded a live session at Reka Karya for the Youtube channel (click here to watch). It was a fun time. We also shot the music video for our song Fikir Sebelum Bertindak in the later half of this month. It was shot at Petai Belalang studio, and it was also a fun time recording that one.

I also spent a lot of this month writing my first telemovie script (it's a musical, too). It hasn't been shot yet, as of this time of writing, but I am excited to see how it turns out.


This month was taken up by a lot of rehearsals for the aforementioned musical that I wrote. I didn't do much at the rehearsals, since the cast was doing a lot of dance practice. I just ended up sitting in a corner and writing drafts for other scripts I was working on at the time. 

I also guested for two different podcasts that weren't Mentol Pecah. Once for the Mulut Murai podcast made by the people at Safehouse (I like this episode muchly). The other is for the How To Malay podcast, with Mozek and Qam (this was also fun).

Pasca Sini released our first full-length album called Emo Department on all streaming platforms on the 20th of November. It consists of twelve tracks that we have been working on since 2018 with the help of our producer and friend, Shaheir Jibin. We really like how the album turned out. It's a bummer that we can't tour it, but we look forward to playing the songs on the album on stage whenever it is safe again to do so. Until then, have a listen to it and be emo with us.


The final month of the year, I was mostly on the set of Slub Milky Mouth (bukan nama sebenar), making sure that any rewriting could be done quickly and scriptwriterly. It was a new experience for me, seeing a show being shot on a multi-cam setup in a huge closed studio. Each member of the cast was very talented and sung and danced their way to getting the job done.

Besides that shoot, I was also involved in a script-reading workshop-type thingy at Lot'ng for a play that is scheduled to be staged sometime in the middle of 2021. We met up three times in three weeks and we helped the playwright hear what his script sounded like out-loud so that he can make adjustments where he feels necessary. I look forward to going into rehearsals for that play, as the cast members seem super cool and I'd get to work with Chris the director again.

Right after the shoot of that Milky Mouth show, we started shooting for the educational show I had been writing a script for. I was on set for the episodes that I wrote to make sure that the cast pronounced things correctly and that they got all the facts straight. I was also there to rewrite what needed to be rewritten. It was a huge learning experience to me in terms of finding out what is helpful and not helpful for a writer to do in their script. I also got to see some actors in action, and make up my mind about how to go about being an actor in the future if I were to ever be cast in a screen thing nanti (primarily learn my lines well before coming on set, and listen very carefully to what the director has to say).

Pinball Monkeys also published our first comedy album called Semua On The Spot. It is a collection of all our favourite sketches that we've made at our Patreon page, and we like it very much. We had so much fun making the sketches, and we hope you give it a listen to have just as much fun as we had.


And that about wraps it up for my 2020. It has been a sucky year, it's true. I didn't get to tour with Pasca Sini, I couldn't perform more shows with Pinball Monkeys, I couldn't hang out with my friends, I couldn't travel anywhere most of the time. But it's also been a year of blessings for me. I finally got a job a screenwriter, I got to meet some amazing people, I got to be a part of the best comedy podcast in Malaysia, I was able to be a part of publishing both a music album and a comedy album, I got to spend a lot of time with my wife, I got to spend quality time with my family and friends and I learned how to cook. There is still much to be grateful for in my life.

I hope your 2020 wasn't too bad either. May 2021 bring us more joy and serotonin.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Remembering 2020 (Part 1)

So 2020 was a great big yikes, wasn't it? Who would've known that things would go south the way that it did? I guess, Bill Gates, in that one Tedtalk video. But nobody else, probably! And how we've rued not taking heed of the dude's Tedtalk. But I feel that I am getting ahead of myself. Ehem.

Every year for the past handful of years, I've done a month-to-month wrap-up of the things I've done throughout the year, so that I may remember the year that was, and document it for my future self's reading pleasure. And I shall be doing it in this post. Will it turn out to be in two parts like in previous years? I doubt it, but let's see!


Ahh, January. Such wonderful times. A time of blissful ignorance. So naive. So young. So free! I kicked off the year by playing a New Year's Eve show (live shows, remember those?) with Pasca Sini at Impero Studio, Ara Damansara. We ended up playing like an hour or so late. We dressed up in button ups and blazers. We really wanted to play a good show. We played an alright-ish show. Kami dah mengantuk, semua orang lain dah mengantuk, tapi tibai ja lah. Oh how I miss it. HOW!

January was also when I first read and rehearsed for the first of only two theatre productions that I'd be involved in throughout 2020, 24 Jam Dalam 37 Tahun (directed by Chris Ling and written by Khairi Anwar). I remember bawling the first time we did the read at Lot'ng. There's this one sequence where the main protagonist (played wonderfully by Shah Shaha) was asking my character at that moment (his father) like 50 questions back to back to back. It really did me in real good. We started rehearsals on the 29th of January and continued to rehearse until the first of March.

We also experimented with the first iteration of the Pinball Monkeys Podcast around this time. We did a few recording sessions, but we were happy with none of them, so they ended up never seeing the light of day. Having said that, I still had a good time recording them. Lots of laughs were had. Cumanya the episodes became unwieldy and hard to figure out, jadi we didn't feel comfortable putting it out to the world. We'd finally figure out how to do it later in the year during lockdown.

I was also a guest on Syafiq Syazim's podcast called Dramatic Dialogue where he speaks to people mostly in the local theatre scene about their experiences and thoughts on theatre and the arts in general. I really like guesting on podcasts, and I aim to be a Paul F. Tompkins in the local podcasting universe, meaning that I want to be in any and all podcasts made round here if I can. I was still working at Thelaki at the time, so he came by Sri Pentas and we recorded the episode there.

I played one Making Shit Up show and one Pinball Monkeys live show at The Joke Factory in this month, both of which very fun, I'm sure. Masalahnya I don't remember what happened in those shows anymore, such is the temporal nature of improv shows. But I do know how they made me feel, and they made me feel amazing.


A lot of February was taken up by rehearsals for 24 Jam Dalam 37 Tahun. I was around Lot'ng a lot, with my fellow actors Shah Shaha and Anissa Azis. We worked through the play, sorted ourselves out and became as prepared as we could've been going into the staging of the play that would happen the following month. It was my first time playing multiple roles in one play, and I've always wanted to do that. I've always seen it as a rite of passage towards becoming an actor. I've always, in my own little head thought that I wasn't a real actor until I can bawak multiple roles in one play, and I'm super glad that I was entrusted with doing just that by Chris.

I was also an extra in two music videos in this month: for Ariff Bahran's Usah and for The Venopian Solitude's Camaraderie. The shoots happened on consecutive days in one weekend. Quite the busy weekend, but it was fun and nice to be on a set with friends.

Pasca Sini played our final pre-Covid show on the 28th of February. It was called Jenuh Kampoi, and we played at Tala Records in Gasket Alley PJ. It was a cool show with cool people. Kami macam biasa, tak tight, but we had fun. The show was supposed to be the first of many many shows that we planned for our 2020 nationwide tour to get the word out about our debut album (that would eventually be released in November 2020) and we were supposed to be on tour with I Lost The Plot and Timemachine, and it would've been such a nice string of shows, I'm sure. Tapi apakan daya. Kita hanya mampu merancang, gitu.


The month it all went downhill. But not before having a few highs in store for me!

I did my first ever BFM radio interview to promote the play 24 Jam Dalam 37 Tahun with fellow actor Anissa. I relistened to the recording of it, and I feel like the first half was rough in terms of me being able to give good answers to the questions asked by the DJ (Sharmilla). But I finally got to set foot in the BFM office, and they have like the best pantry, it's so cool, and the view is so nice, I was super jealous as Ripple's pantry wasn't even half as good.

We started our staging of 24 Jam Dalam 37 Tahun on the 5th of March, and it lasted two weeks (taking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off). We put up eight shows, and I think all eight shows (or maybe it was seven?) ended up being sold out. That was a first time for me too, to have a sold out run of a show. It felt great and gratifying. I think it's the best play I've ever been a part of to-date. We had plans to re-stage it later in the year, but, y'know, Corvid. 

In the play I got to play five different characters, and figuring out how to pull that off was a challenge, but I managed it. It was such a satisfying experience, to embody the characters and tell the story of Haikal to a willing audience. The play ended up moving many people to tears, just like it did when I first experienced it. There's so much heart and honesty in it, it breaks your heart. Khairi wrote a super powerful piece, and Chris directed it immaculately, as one would expect from the great Chris Ling. Shah's performance as Haikal was amazing, Anissa did a great job, the sound design by Kir was onz, the theme song made by Takahara Suiko was spot on and the set made by Adry was cool esfak. It was great all round and I'm super grateful to have been part of this production.

While the play was going on, I squeezed out some time to play with Pasca Sini at Gasket Alley again for a very pop punk heavy show. We wore Oasis-inspired clothes and covered Don't Look Back In Anger, because Oasis are pop punk as fuck. I also got to send my youngest brother off at the airport for him to fly to Romania. He did a semester over there under a student exchange programme thingy, and it was cool to see him study oversea like that (although because of Corveid, he ended up doing all of his classes online. Kesian kat dia). It was interesting to be at the airport at the start of Covid. It was the emptiest I had ever seent it. It felt very ominous.

A day after we wrapped the 24 Jam Dalam 37 Tahun production, the government announced the first Movement Control Order. That was huge news. We were very grateful that we were able to conclude our production before the announcement. Throughout March, we were already macam was-was about everything dah. Sanitizing our hands all the time, sanitizing the Lot'ng blackbox before every show. And then the MCO was announced, and we were to work from home until further notice. We'd never done that before at Thelaki, so it was interesting to me to see how we would navigate having to still make video while being at home. We figured it out, of course, and made quite a few videos from our respective homes. I like this one in particular, where we talked about our daily routines when working from home.

I remember the first time I went on a grocery run during the first MCO. I was staying at my in-laws at the time and I was given a list of things to get. I went to Aeon and Tesco to find all the things that were in the list. I remember the line at Tesco being super super long because of the limit in the amount of people allowed in the shopping area at any given time, as well as the social distancing that was required of us while in the line. I waited like an hour and a half kot kalau tak silap, just to get into Tesco. 

This was the time that felt most apocalyptic to me. Everything was familiar, but surreal. Seeing all the shops closed like that. There was palpable fear in the air, and everyone was extra careful with everything. But there was also a sense of "we're all in this together"ness whenever I made eye-contact with strangers. Like we were saying to each other, "stay away from me, and together we'll beat this thing." It was weird, and cool, but mostly strange. I remember listening to the latest episode of The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green at the time and feeling like "Fuck, this is really happening. Fuck." But at the same time, "we'll get through this. It'll be a while, but we will get through this." I really recommend you listening to the episode, it's great.

I didn't like this period at all though. I didn't know what to do with myself. I struggle with staying inside all day everyday. It made me realise just how important being out and about was to me. I am a much more social creature than I give myself credit for.

I ended up giving myself the goal of writing a play script in two weeks. I met my goal and shared it with one friend so that they made me accountable. The first draft is finished, and I have no idea when I'm going to get started on its second and subsequent drafts. But I finished writing my first ever play script, so that is one thing to feel grateful about.


Well, looks like I've run out of gas here. I'll continue with part 2 esok, I hope. Have a happy new year everyone. May the next year be much much better than this one.