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Chua En Lai: From Noose to juicy news

Striking out from his comedic roles, host and actor Chua En Lai starts the new year with an all-new series

Chua En Lai as Thai character Pornsak Sukhumvit on “The Noose”

You may know Chua En Lai as eccentric newscaster BB See or Thai cameo Pornsak Sukhumvit on “The Noose”, which recently made an amusing appearance at the Celebrate SG50 countdown.

But now, En Lai has gotten – in his own words – a “real job”. Hosting “The 5 Show” with Yasminne Cheng, En Lai is venturing into the world of live talk shows and juicy current news. Weekender finds out what makes Singapore’s favourite clown laugh, and what En Lai is like behind his cheerful funny act.

How will you be celebrating Singapore’s Golden Jubilee?

Most of the shows I do have a uniquely Singaporean slant. In that way, I celebrate Singapore and what it means to be a Singaporean every other day. Oh, I may also pop open a bottle of champagne. Cheers!

Chua En Lai - Celebrate SG50_
En Lai (left) with his “Noose” co-stars at Celebrate SG50

What have you been up to recently?

I’ve been busy getting “The 5 Show” on the road! It’s on live every weekday, (filmed) in real time! I feel like I’ve grown up a bit. It’s like getting a real job! (laughs)

You’re a household name in comedy – do you have any influence over developing your caricatures?

Absolutely. I believe that characters only work if they are a part of the actor, not just some lines you’ve got to spout. Sometimes, (I) draw inspiration from people (I) know in real life – friends, relatives or that kopitiam uncle. You could find yourself on TV soon!

Which role is the hardest for you to play?

I freak out every time I’m meant to imitate someone whom I know. I get so paranoid that that person’s going to kill me! (laughs)

En Lai (left) appeared as local comedian Kumar during his Celebrate SG50 performance

What’s your go-to tip to channel your inner comic?

You cannot be self-conscious! Don’t think about what other people will think of you! It’s always about the character, not the actor.

Was comedy something you’ve wanted to do since young?

Not really; I kind of fell into it. I’m not really the joker at home, but I just enjoy playing characters.

If you weren’t an entertainer, what would you be?

I’d be a travel agent. I’d love to send people away on holidays. Then again, I’d be very jealous and bitter. I travel a lot and my friends call me for tips and stuff. They call me Lai Lai Travel.

Is there a type of role that you would like to play that you haven’t gotten yet?

This new role of being myself on “The 5 Show” is kind of strange. (laughs) I’d love to do some Shakespeare in the future. I haven’t done any in years and all that time away has made me fearful of it! Yikes!

What’s your favourite genre of film?

I love bad movies like Sharknado and Pirahna 3D! I like films that laugh at themselves. (Actually) I like a wide variety lah.

I don’t tend to watch superhero or sci-fi flicks but I do enjoy them when I get to the cinema if there is a good story. Human stories. (OK lah, some aliens have good stories to tell too lah).

You’re very good at imitating accents. Which accent is the hardest for you to do?

I can’t do Korean. I tried. It’s really difficult. I just can’t. (mimics sad face)

What’s your comfort food?

Fries. I love fries. I crave fries. Give me some now!

Catch Chua En Lai on “The 5 Show”, live from Mondays to Fridays at 8.30pm on Channel 5.

By Pamela Chow