Known for her parody YouTube videos on MunahHirziOfficial, hilarious comedienne Munah shares about her growth and breaking into television
Sitting next to Maimunah Bagharib — better known as YouTube star Munah — and eating ice cream waffles and French fries with her was a surreal experience.
We were together in a cafe at her alma mater, Temasek Polytechnic (TP), for an interview. It felt more like having brunch with a friend, over jokes and chatting about ‘stalking’ people on Instagram.
The 27-year-old runs the YouTube comedy channel MunahHirziOfficial with close friend Ahmad Hirzi Zulkiflie, and can be seen on Channel 5’s “Working Class”. What you see is what you get.
Munah’s comfortably-comic personality comes through even in real life, over our teatime chat.
HOW ARE YOU SIMILAR TO YOUR CHARACTER IN “WORKING CLASS”?
Junnie is crazy! We’re both very determined to make something of our lives. But what’s different is that I’m not as intense as her.
Junnie doesn’t foresee consequences and gets into a lot of trouble. Sometimes I feel so bad for her; I’m like, “Girl! Of course this would happen!”
WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?
I’m shooting with Carla Dunareanu for “Miss Adventures”, a travel show out in January. They put us into crazy-a** situations and watched how we fare in them.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FILMING FOR TV AND YOUTUBE?
For MunahHirziOfficial, we do everything from pre- to post-production.
For TV, I come on set as the actor, so I’m more focused on my craft and on building my character. With a professional crew, I learn how they work and bring it to MunahHirziOfficial.
HOW DID YOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL START?
We always did stupid things in school. Like in TP, when we were bored, we’d randomly push the dustbin into the middle of the corridor and see how people walk around it. [laughs]
Then, because we’re so narcissistic, Hirzi said there should be a camera following us. We studied Mass Communication, so we loved the idea of producing shows.
WHAT HABIT OF HIRZI BOTHERS YOU THE MOST?
Oh my god, so many! [laughs] No lah. He doesn’t share his dessert with me.
If I want to just take a bit, sometimes, it should be okay, right? But no. He gets so pissed off at me. I’m still very bitter about that. [laughs]
YOUR CHARACTERS ARE SO FLAMBOYANT. WHAT ARE YOU LIKE DURING YOUR DOWNTIME?[Laughs] Sometimes I go to Mustafa Centre to walk around. It’s very therapeutic. They have everything — and you take things and read labels.
There’s always so much going on, so it’s important to just have “you” time and go to Mustafa Centre.
You’re looking at me like you’re thinking, “Oh dear, this girl!”
WE’VE SEEN YOU AT FASHION SHOWS. IS FASHION ALSO THERAPEUTIC FOR YOU?
Yes. Hirzi is really into fashion, so I’m styled by Hirzi.
HOW DID YOUR PARENTS REACT TO YOUR CAREER CHOICE?
My mom is 100 per cent behind me. She’s always happy to see me on TV.
When I’m doing a new show, she’ll mark down in her calendar, what time to catch it. And when I don’t tell her I’m appearing on TV, she gets so pissed off at me!
My dad took a while, but he’s finally starting to understand. I appreciate that support; it gives me more confidence to pursue acting.
HOW HAS ACTING CHANGED THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF?
Acting opens me up to different things, allowing me to be brave, to put myself out there and just try things.
Recently, I did my first monologue piece and I was so scared but it pushed me to be vulnerable.
WHAT KIND OF STUDENT WERE YOU?
In primary school, I hated it. During recess time, I would call my mom with those 10-cent payphones, crying for her to take me home. So I was very doted on in school, because I cried a lot. [laughs]
In secondary school, I had three nice and crazy girl friends and we would go around taking over the school,
like Charlie’s Angels.
Apart from starring as intense go-getter Junnie (middle) in “Working Class”, Munah will soon host Season 2 of “The Five Show”. (Photo: MediaCorp Ch 5)
WHERE ELSE CAN FANS CATCH YOU?
I’m starting to host Season 2 of “The 5 Show” (starting this month) and, next year, I’m doing the M1 Fringe Festival’s “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit”. It’s a piece where we can’t have any rehearsal, preparation or research at all — we just get the script, get on stage and do it.
I don’t know why I accepted it! It’s so scary! [laughs]
By Pamela Chow
Catch Munah in “Working Class” every Wednesday at 9.30pm and “Miss Adventures”, premiering Jan 27, 2016, at 9.30pm, on Channel 5.