Sunday
Jun042017

Hooked on Malaysia

MALAYSIANS love to go on holidays abroad. Just visit any Matta Fair and you’ll see just how crazy Malaysians are about travelling. But how many of us have actually explored our own country?

It’s ironic that foreign visitors on a relatively short vacation here probably visit more Malaysian towns and states than we ever will in our entire lifetime. One foreigner who has definitely visited more of Malaysia than most Malaysians is Walter Yurt, a former business banker-turned-English teacher who has already written two books about his travels in this country and the region.

He’s working on his third book and is trying his hand at writing a Malaysian-based play as well.

It was in 2008 when Yurt first came to the country after getting retrenched from his banking job. Asia was an intriguing place he’d never been to so when a friend recommended a teaching job at an international school here, he jumped at the chance.

“When I left American airspace to fly to KL, it was the first time I’d ever left North America,” he recalls. “It was a great leap of faith on my part and a lot of people who knew me thought I was crazy, but I’ve never looked back or regretted moving here.”

Yurt talks to Savvy about why he loves this country so much, and about his writing exploits.

WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MALAYSIA?

In two words, green and new! When I left Kentucky, it was the dead of winter so all I remember in the car driving from KLIA was how green everything was, and later, as we were driving past Putrajaya, how almost everything seemed so new.

WHAT SURPRISED YOU THE MOST?

Within weeks of being in KL, I got to celebrate New Year’s, Thaipusam and Chinese New Year. The diversity of cultures was literally like nothing I’d ever experienced before in my life.

YOU’VE MADE A POINT TO VISIT MANY PLACES IN MALAYSIA, AS WELL AS THE REGION. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO DO THAT?

I always like to blame my parents for instilling in me the love of travel. They took the family to almost every state in America and to Canada and Mexico as well.

When I was a kid, they gave me an encyclopaedia set which got me dreaming of one day seeing all of these exotic places. I can’t imagine living 16,000km away from home without trying to experience every possible place that time and money allow. And the great thing is, even after 8 ½ years here, I still have so many places to see both inside and outside Malaysia.

WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA TO WRITE BOOKS ABOUT YOUR TRAVELS?

I was so enamoured with Malaysia and Southeast Asia when I moved here that I’d spend most evenings writing e-mails back to my family and friends in America, telling them about all the things I’d done. And I do mean everything. Several of my friends would forward my e-mails to their friends, and one of them, a retired English professor, suggested that I turn my writings into a book.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR BOOKS?

The first one, Finding Myself, is totally dedicated to my travels and adventures within Malaysia. Included are chapters not just about my travels, but also the people and families I’d met along the way.

Finding Myself is in the process of being translated into Bahasa Malaysia by a group of wonderful young women at Universiti Sains Malaysia. The manuscript should be finished by the end of the year. My second book, Finding My World, expands on the first book, focusing more on the other nations around Malaysia.

WHAT’S YOUR THIRD BOOK GOING TO BE ABOUT?

My third book will be more of the same as my first two books, but will also go off in a bit of a different direction. The opening section will be more of an essay, which I’m tentatively calling Knocking The Chip Off Malaysia’s Shoulder.

It’s my way of telling my readers to focus on all the good that Malaysia has to offer and not to dwell on the negative.

I know through my experiences that the best way to overcome adversity is to focus on the good things in life and in doing so the bad things will seem much easier to handle and become less significant.

WHERE DO YOU DO MOST OF YOUR WRITING?

It’s funny but I rarely write at home; too many distractions, like the television, books I’ve yet to read and even the refrigerator. I like being out in a crowd to do my writing. In particular, I have an affinity for writing in Starbucks. With all the noise and people around me, it gets my adrenaline and creative juices flowing.

WHAT’S YOUR PHILOSOPHY TOWARDS WRITING?

The first thing I want any writing of mine to be is easy to read. I strive for easy-to-understand language that will ensure that my reader is easily transported to the place I’m writing about. I think that if I can convey just a bit of the absolute joy that I experience living in this part of the world to others who live here and to those back in the West, then I’ve done my job as a writer.

YOU’VE STARTED WORK ON WRITING A PLAY. WHY WRITE A PLAY AND WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

I like new challenges and writing my first play is certainly that. This Place Of Ours is the story of an American and an overseas-educated Malay driving from KL to Alor Star to spend Hari Raya with the Malay character’s family. The dialogue contrasts their two differing views on life in Malaysia and our globalised world.

BASED ON YOUR OBSERVATIONS AS A TEACHER AND AN EXPAT WHO GREW UP ABROAD, WHAT CAN MALAYSIAN PARENTS DO TO MAKE THEIR CHILDREN MORE CREATIVE?

Malaysian parents really need to move away from the emphasis on rote memory type of education and instead focus on each child’s unique talents. If a child loves art, point him in that direction. If a child loves business, point her in that direction. If a child’s education is more tied to what they love to do, as they grow older they’ll have careers based upon what they are passionate about and in the long run they’ll become more productive citizens, to the betterment of their lives and to the nation.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS COUNTRY THAT MAKES YOU WANT TO BE HERE?

I love so many things about Malaysia: the food, the weather, the endless natural beauty, the amazing business climate and the fast pace of change that’s taking place here.

I enjoy telling my friends back in the States just how different and wonderful living here is. That’s why I love writing about Malaysia as much as I do. There’s not another country in close proximity to Malaysia that can offer me the overall quality of life that Malaysia gives me. I love travelling throughout Southeast Asia, but no matter where I go on my travels, I’m always glad to get home to Kuala Lumpur.

HOW LONG DO YOU THINK YOU’LL STAY IN MALAYSIA?

People ask me that question all time, both my friends here in Malaysia and my friends back in the States. I always give everyone the same answer: I’ll stay in Malaysia as long as I love living here as much as I do now.

When that changes, then I’ll know that it’s time to move on. One of the greatest things about my life here is not knowing if that time will ever come.

Sunday
May282017

Focused on cherubic models

SITI ZUBAIDAH RUSLI, or Zubye as she likes to be called, used to work as an engineer in a telecommunications company. Never did she imagine she would be running her own photography business one day. But after her son was born, Zubye discovered her passion for photography, in particular children’s photography which soon blossomed into a full-time career.

“I used to post pictures of my son online and got very good comments and feedback from my friends,” she recalls. “Some of them actually wanted to hire me to shoot pictures of their kids so that got me thinking about doing it professionally.”

She started by taking on small assignments and found that she really enjoyed the work. “I felt very happy taking photos for other families and instantly I knew this was what I wanted to do,” confides Zubye.

She did photography part-time for about a year before quitting her engineering job to focus full-time on it. That was 10 years ago. Zubye talks to Savvy about what it takes to become a successful children’s photographer and why she believes you can do great things when you pour your love into whatever it is you are doing.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY?

My late grandfather owned a big camera and he loved taking pictures of his grandkids. I guess I inherited his talent but I didn’t realise that until my son was born. My husband gave me a compact camera as a present and I began shooting photos of my son every single day. It became a routine but it was something that made me very happy, a feeling I hadn’t experienced before. I practised and experimented a lot. And when I became good enough, I decided to buy a DSLR camera. I haven’t looked back since.

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER?

Do what you love and love what you do. This mantra is the main reason I decided to become a professional photographer. I just love doing it. Nearly a decade ago there weren’t many children’s photographers. Most professional photographers were focused on weddings. So, it was a good niche to go into. Besides, I’ve always loved children, even before I became a mother myself. After I realised I could take good photos, I became obsessed with capturing those precious moments of pure sincerity in their smiles and cries.

WHAT IS THE TOUGHEST PART OF RUNNING A BUSINESS?

Time management — balancing my time as a wife and a mum as well as a being a full-time photographer. You really have to set a schedule and be disciplined about sticking to it. You need to have a firm heart and strong determination to do this, and it’s easy sometimes to get side-tracked and feel demoralised. But I am lucky to have a very supportive husband who always encourages me to follow my dream.

HOW DO YOU MARKET YOUR SERVICES?

I post my work on my website (www.eyesofgrace.net) and I am also active on social media, in particular Facebook (www.facebook.com/EyesofGracePhotography) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/zubye_eyesofgracephotography). People love to view and share nice photos so these online platforms help me a lot when it comes to exposure of my work. But I must say it’s not just the quality of my work that makes an impact but also how I treat my clients during and after the shoot. If they love working with you, they’ll recommend you to their friends. That’s how my business grew.

YOU WROTE A BOOK CALLED SEKEPING GAMBAR SEINDAH MEMORI. IN GIVING YOUR SECRETS AWAY, ARE YOU NOT AFRAID PEOPLE MIGHT LEARN FROM YOU AND BECOME YOUR COMPETITOR?

I’ve always dreamt of writing my own photography book. It took me about eight months to finish the writing and almost one year to complete the overall process of getting it published. My target audience (for this book) is parents. I want to guide them on how to take beautiful and meaningful photos of their children. Of course those aspiring to become professional children’s photographers can also learn from it but I’m a firm believer of this phrase “The more you give, the more you get back.” I have been in this industry for many years and I hope my experience can be used by others to improve their photography skills. I’m not worried that some of them might become my competitors. If they succeed in becoming a successful professional photographer, I’ll be very happy to know that. It’s a big world and there are plenty of opportunities for all. We have to believe that God has provided and determined our sustenance, so don’t worry about that. Just be brave, be bold, be yourself and make your dream come true.

WHAT’S THE MOST CHALLENGING THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?

Working with children requires a lot of energy but it’s also really fun. Every child is unique and each needs a different approach. Some are active and friendly while others are afraid of strangers and get really clingy with their parents. I never force them to smile for the camera. That never works. Instead, I play with them. In my sessions, sometimes you can see me chasing them around, rolling on the grass or playing hide and seek with them. Yes, it takes a lot to be a children’s photographer. You have to create a bond with them first, only then can you get great pictures.

I play the role as a photographer, a mum and a friend to my subjects.

HOW DO YOU KEEP UP TO DATE WITH LATEST TECHNOLOGY IN PHOTOGRAPHY?

I’m a very simple and minimalist photographer. I don’t feel the need to buy the latest camera equipment or gadgets. The most important tool is my own eyes. How you see things and how you tell a story from the images you take are what determines whether you are an exceptional photographer or not.

Sunday
May212017

Staying focused

IF you’re a comic book fan, you’ve probably noticed that there’s usually a writer and an illustrator. It’s usually the same with picture books. And if you’re familiar with the advertising industry, you’ll know that there are two types of creative directors, one for art and another for writing.

The reason for this is that writers usually aren’t good at drawing and artists aren’t good at copywriting.

But don’t say this to Andrea Tan, a self-taught writer and illustrator who believes that you can become good at practically anything if you set your heart to it.

Andrea only had a secondary school education and worked as a secretary for almost a decade before she pursued her dreams of being a writer.

She started off by reporting part-time for a local newspaper in Kuching.

“I didn’t have any formal training in journalism,” she shares, adding: “I learnt on the job. It was a great experience — I covered everything from personalities, travel, food and lifestyle to music, fashion, the Internet and movies.”

After moving to KL in 2008, she began doing freelance copywriting work for various companies and eventually took up drawing too.

Andrea talks to Savvy about what it means to juggle being a writer and an illustrator. She also shares her philosophy about lifelong learning.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY?

I’m a freelance writer and part-time content writer for an agency. I also take on art commissions and sell my art online.

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A WRITER FIRST AND AN ARTIST SECOND OR VICE VERSA?

I would have to give both equal billing although my interests these days are more towards art and design. But I do like switching between the two as writing can be quite a left brain task while drawing is more right brained. I do mini-comics which are great because there’re both writing and drawing involved.

YOU STARTED OUT AS A WRITER. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO BECOME AN ARTIST AS WELL?

I’ve always wanted to learn how to draw better but never got around to it. One day, I finally made that effort to do so and discovered that I’m quite good at it. My friends encouraged me to set up a Facebook page to showcase my art. The process of creating that page required me to really think about what I wanted to do with my art. It was then that I decided to do it professionally.

WHAT MADE YOU BELIEVE YOU COULD DO IT?

I generally try not to overthink things. I believe in just doing things because overthinking can really kill any initiative and also take away all the fun.

HOW DID YOU TEACH YOURSELF TO DRAW?

Many friends recommended Betty Edwards’s Drawing From The Right Side Of The Brain. For an art book, it’s actually very text-heavy. But it’s a great guide for anyone who wants to learn how to draw. Before I was even halfway through the book, I had already begun to see vast improvements in my drawing. But learning never stops. I’m still learning and practising every day.

THERE IS A NOTION THAT ARTISTS ARE BORN, NOT MADE. DO YOU AGREE?

I believe everyone is born an artist. Think about it. As a child, you draw naturally. It may just be squiggles and lines but you’re drawing, so it’s something innate.

Not so with writing, which you have to be taught. But to become good at drawing, you have to train for it. Talent is only a small part of the equation. Without practice, talent will be wasted.

HOW IMPORTANT IS PASSION TO THE EQUATION?

Very. It’s the interest or passion that really makes the difference. If you’re not into either drawing or writing or any other pursuits, you won’t have the drive to practice every day. And that’s what you’ve got to do if you want to be good at anything. Artists and writers must never stop learning and practising, otherwise, they become stagnant.

WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER AND AS AN ARTIST?

My biggest challenge as a writer and an artist are rush jobs with tight deadlines. It happens from time to time, and I have to make it work and deliver the goods. But it’s hard to do a good job when you are rushed like that.

DO YOU EVER HAVE WRITER’S OR ARTIST’S BLOCK?

Whether as a writer or an artist, the scariest thing is staring at a blank page or canvas and not having anything come to mind.

In such situations, I force myself to write a few words or draw some lines without worrying too much about whether it’s any good or not. It’s important to just begin writing and drawing. If I make that sound easy, I assure you that it isn’t. I do struggle from writer’s or artist’s block from time to time.

WHAT MAKES YOU CONVINCED THAT YOU CAN LEARN ANYTHING YOU HAVE SET YOUR HEART AND MIND TO?

From personal experiences. I managed to teach myself how to write well and draw well and now I’m doing both professionally. I’m always learning new things because I have so many interests.

For example, last year as part of my part-time job with a creative agency, I had to pick up filming on a mobile phone and video editing as well. It’s great. It is so much fun. And the more I do it, the better I get at it.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT TO LEARN?

The list is so long — animation, herbalism, book-binding, growing succulents (a type of plant that retain a lot of water), print-making. My biggest challenge is to not get distracted and to take on one new thing at a time so I can focus and do well in it.

WHAT IS THE KEY TO NURTURING CREATIVITY IN CHILDREN?

Play. Let them play and nurture their curiosity. Let them make a mess, ask questions, figure things out on their own and make mistakes. It’s how they learn. Get them to do things with their hands and not just stare at mobile, computer or TV screens. If they show interest in something, encourage them to pursue it.

Sunday
May142017

Chasing dreams on the racetrack

Always a car aficionado, Read really got into racing after she won a spot on the all-female Red Bull Rookies team in 2014. After she and two other female drivers beat nearly 300 participants for a spot on the team, they were put through some advanced driving courses and competed in the 2014 Sepang 1000km Endurance race, which entailed a gruelling 161 laps around the Sepang International Circuit.

She’s now a member of Dream Chaser, an independent race team that partially subsidises the cost of her training and competition expenses. Racing is a very expensive sport, which is why she also has a day job as an oil and gas executive.

Read speaks to Savvy about what it’s like to be a woman in the male-dominated world of race car driving, her need to have a day job in order to finance her racing passion and how she hopes to inspire others.

YOU’RE A RACE DRIVER BUT YOU ALSO HAVE A DAY JOB. WHAT DO YOU DO EXACTLY?

Contrary to what some people might think, we don’t get any kind of salary from racing and sponsorship is sparse because it’s such a niche sport. So, really, the only way for me to support my racing activities is to have a day job. I work as a quality assurance executive in an oil and gas company. Basically I take care of their processes and procedures. It’s nothing to do with racing, just a job to pay the bills.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EXPOSURE TO RACING?

I was more into cars than racing at first. When I was in university in Australia, I had a Honda Integra that I’d bought from a car show. What appealed to me then was the look of a car. I wasn’t really into performance or anything like that because I wasn’t yet a racer. The closest thing I got to racing was watching some illegal drag races there. But I liked driving. I was part of a group that was really into cars and I remember we used to go on long drives from Melbourne to Sydney, for example.

HOW DID YOU END UP IN THE RED BULL ROOKIES TEAM?

A friend told me about the search and suggested that I try out. I didn’t really expect to be selected because there were so many participants but I figured it was worth trying because even if you don’t make the team, you get to attend their driving courses, notably the defensive driving and advance training courses by the Asia Advanced Driving Academy. Very useful — definitely made me a better driver!

WHAT TYPE OF RACES DO YOU TAKE PART IN?

There are so many types of races but I do what’s called circuit racing, which means I only race in Sepang. I don’t do things like drifting, for example, which is a whole different thing. I race in what’s known as a touring car and the types of races I do are either sprints, which are just for a few laps, or endurance races, which is at least an hour but could be a lot longer too.

SINCE YOU’RE NOT A FULL-TIME, PROFESSIONAL RACE CAR DRIVER, HOW DO YOU PAY FOR THE COSTS OF RACING?

Mainly out of my pocket. I’m part of Dream Chaser, which is useful. They help me with the crew and the car, which is made available to me at a subsidised rate. I’ve also got some sponsors such as Rowe Motor Oil, Monspacemall (an online shopping mall) and Momentum Auto Parts. Every little bit helps.

DO YOU SEE A TIME WHEN YOU CAN DITCH THE DAY JOB AND RACE FULL TIME?

I think every racer fantasises about racing as a career but the only ones who can really do that are the F1 drivers. And that’s not my ambition, so racing for me is pretty much a passion.

SO WHAT ARE YOUR AMBITIONS, RACING WISE?

I’d like to race internationally. Right now, my experience has all been local. To secure an international racing licence, you must have the experience — the hours put into racing. So, I need to really put in the time and effort. I’m working on it.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT RACING THAT YOU LIKE?

I think besides the thrill of racing itself, I like the challenges involved: The challenge of finding sponsorship, the challenge of defying stereotypes, the challenge of overcoming my own fears. How can I push myself harder and drive faster? There’s a great thrill in beating your own personal best.

WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK?

Just money, I guess. But it’s the same for everyone. It’s expensive to race and most of us can only afford a few track days a year. I do have a race simulator at home but it’s really not the same as being on the track.

YOU USED TO BE A NATIONAL SQUASH PLAYER IN YOUR YOUTH. DID YOU EVER PLAY AGAINST NICOL DAVID?

I did! We played against each other in my very first Sukma Games. She’s a few years younger than I am and back then, her racquet was almost as big as she was. But despite my being bigger and older, she totally demolished me on the court. I knew there and then she was going to be huge in the world of squash.

HOW LONG DID YOU CONTINUE IN SQUASH AND ARE THERE THINGS FROM THAT SPORT THAT HELPS YOU IN RACING?

I continued to compete in squash until Form Five but then I had to make a crucial decision — to study or to pursue squash professionally. I opted to study. So, that was the end of my squash career but there are things from that period in my life that are still useful today. I think my competitiveness comes from my early training in squash. And also visualisation is something I learnt from my squash days.

UNLIKE MOST SPORTS, RACING DOESN’T HAVE DIFFERENT GENDER CATEGORIES, RIGHT?

That’s correct. Women race against men. There’s no women’s category.

IS THAT DAUNTING?

No, it’s a motivation. I want to beat the guys. I want to see how far I can go with this. I want to break stereotypes.

When I started racing, there were many doubters — people who thought I was chosen by

Red Bull because of my looks etc. But now that I’m actually racing and people can

see my performance, they’re not so dismissive.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE FROM RACING, SINCE MONEY IS CLEARLY NOT THE MOTIVATION?

I’d like to inspire other girls, not necessarily in racing per se but in pursuing whatever

it is they’re passionate about — even if

it’s in an area dominated by guys. Just go for it.

OFF THE RACE TRACK ARE YOU A SPEEDSTER TOO?

No, I’m a safe driver. On the track I push myself 110 per cent but on the road there’s no temptation to go fast.

Driving for me is just about getting from A to B, safely.

HOW LONG DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE RACING?

I’ll stop when it isn’t fun anymore. As long as I enjoy it, I’ll keep doing it.

Sunday
May072017

Tough business being funny

BEING a comedian is no joke. It’s a tough business in general and being a female comedian is even tougher. But that is precisely why Shamaine Othman is so drawn to this profession.

After obtaining her Bachelor of Performing Arts at Monash University in Melbourne, she returned to Malaysia and took on a job as a broadcast journalist. She then went on to become an assistant administrator with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra before venturing into stand-up comedy.

Shamaine talks to Savvy about how she got started and what it’s like being a female comedian in Malaysia.

WERE YOU ALWAYS FUNNY, EVEN AS A KID?

I guess the right people to ask that question would be my family. I always liked comedy because that’s what my father was involved in, producing sitcoms like Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu and 2 + 1. I was always surrounded by comedy and my father taught us how to always see the humour in all situations.

DID YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WERE GOING TO DO AFTER YOU GRADUATED?

I had studied performing arts with the intention of becoming a full-time actor. That was my ambition. Then I got fat and realised that that dream was over. Now, I spend my days scriptwriting and performing comedy. Not in a million years did I think I’d be doing these things. I really thought I was going to end up as an actress.

WHAT GAVE YOU THE CONFIDENCE TO TAKE ON SUCH AN UNUSUAL PROFESSION?

I think the fact that it is such an unusual profession. Back when I started out, the only other female comedian performing regularly was Joanne Kam Poh Poh. Male comedians like Kuah Jenhan and Phoon Chi Ho were very encouraging; they’d say things like: “Go do it, we need more female comics”. I must say I love a challenge.

WHY ARE THERE MORE MALES THAN FEMALES DOING THIS?

Traditionally comedy has been a male-dominated scene. I think women just need to see more women doing it, so they can muster the courage to give it a go. That’s why I think it’s important for show promoters to include female comics in their line-up. Things are improving though. In the past few years, we have seen the emergence of all-female stand-up nights.

WHAT DID YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOUR CAREER CHOICE?

Well, considering what they do - my mother is also involved in TV production - they obviously weren’t against it. Their only worry was whether I could get by financially because they know only too well how tough showbusiness is.

SO, HOW’S THE MONEY BEEN?

I’m a full-time scriptwriter and comedian and frankly, it’s my scriptwriting that pays the bills. Corporate comedy gigs pay well but I don’t do those because I’d have to censor my material, which can sometimes be risque. I want to keep my comedy as raw as I can because I deal with enough censorship writing for TV.

IS BEING FUNNY SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO BE BORN WITH?

I personally believe that some people are born to be funny. If you’re naturally funny then you can train to become really good at it. For example, if you want to be a professional comedian, you have to train at it. But at its heart, being funny is something innate.

IS THE COMEDIAN NETWORK A TIGHTLY KNIT ONE?

Very much so - everybody knows everybody. Online, there are chat groups for comedians and the Crackhouse Comedy Club is like home base for us to hang out. We help each other out.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS FROM?

I mainly get ideas from my own life - things that happen to me or stories that I hear from friends or stuff that I see in a documentary. I watch a lot of TV and online videos and these things do spark ideas for me.

COMEDIANS OBVIOUSLY WATCH OTHER COMEDIANS. IS THERE A FINE LINE BETWEEN BEING INSPIRED BY SOMEONE AND PLAGIARISING THEM?

Joke borrowing is joke stealing. This should never be done. It’s okay to borrow ideas or themes but not specific jokes. For example, a few comics in the local scene - including myself - have jokes about how to talk dirty in Malay. The general concept is the same but each comedian has his or her own jokes with different premises, set-ups and punchlines.

WHAT’S THE MOST SURPRISING THING ABOUT BEING A COMEDIAN?

That we’re not 100 per cent funny and bubbly all the time. When I’m on the stage, I turn it on 100 per cent but off stage, I can be a rather subdued person.

WHAT’S THE HARDEST THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?

You know what? Everything is hard for me. Having the discipline to keep writing new material, making sure your material is funny, generating fresh ideas, staying true to myself - all of that is hard. I think most people don’t realise that when comedians are up there telling their jokes, they’re giving away a part of themselves to you.

WHAT MAKES YOU KEEP ON WANTING TO DO THIS?

I can’t see myself doing anything else. Telling these stories that are so personal to me and making the audience laugh makes me feel really good.

WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING AT THIS YEAR?

Some personal projects that I’m looking forward to doing is finishing my first feature film script. I am working on my solo one-hour comedy special - hopefully stage it at the end of the year or early next year. I’m also planning to launch a female-centric comedy channel on YouTube.