An Interview with Rizal van Geyzel – One of Malaysia’s Top Comedians and TEDxKL 2013 Speaker

Rizal-Van-GeyzelRizal van Geyzel, one of Malaysia’s top comedian and a regular at TimeOut Comedy Thursday is definitely one funny man.  I have seen him perform and I must say he always tickle my funny bone.

If you have not seen Rizal perform, you should check out his act now:

Born to a Chinese Dutch Father and a Turkish Malay Mother, Rizal is generally confused with what he is exactly. I suppose his mixed parentage serves him really well because he is able to transcend all sorts of racial barriers in cracking ethnic jokes. Today we are very lucky to have the opportunity to interview Rizal and find out more about him. Check out our interview with Rizal:

1. How did you get started with comedy?
I did an open mic night in Central Market and then opened for Harith Iskandar’s ‘Lets Get Personal’ at the Actor’s Studio when it was still in Bangsar Shopping Centre.

2. Were you the funniest boy in school and comedy became like a natural progression for you?
Yes you’re right! Wow how did you guess that? Its like you’re a mentalist…or typist. Or at least I thought I was the funniest. I had teachers who were real funny.

3. Which comedian do you look up to?
I have met so many comics from all different parts of the world that have been travelling and performing in different countries and I honestly have the highest respect for them because of their ability to cross cultures and find out what makes different people laugh. Most of them people would never have heard of before like Glen Wool, Paul Ogata, Daliso Chopanda, Matt Price, and the list goes on. Seeing these guys entertain a crowd of people who are not of their own background and nationality is a real inspiration.

4. What do you think of Russell Peters?
Russell Peters is a hardworking comedian till this day and I am grateful for his breakthrough in comedy because it made ethnic comedians more acceptable today.

5. What do you enjoy most about doing a comedy show?
What else can I say except getting laughs of people. Oh and the free drinks…and occasional meals too.

6. You seem to be really good at picking the quirkiness of Malaysians and transforming them into jokes. How do you get inspiration for your comedy material?
You just said it actually. I try to take an angle on something mundane and typical and present it to people in a way they never heard before.

7. In your biography published everywhere, it is mentioned that 5 years ago, you left the Malaysian comedy scene to go to Miami to “study” Hotel Management. So really…I’m curious, what did you “study” there?
That thing is 2 years old! So technically it was 7 years ago, I did my last corporate show at Berjaya Times Square in Nov 2004 then I decided to finish my degree in Hotel & Catering in South Florida for 5 years. Study? In Miami? Come on. I got through my education for the sake of my parents and my future depending on how this turns out.

8. Do you think Malaysians are too serious and a stiff bunch when it comes to comedy?
We’re OK. We can loosen up and laugh a lot at ourselves if the opportunity presents itself. Usually its not so much that we’re stiff or rigid but more often, we are mindful of our surroundings and the people around us whom we don’t want to offend. We are also easily spoilt by commercial media – just listen to our radio stations.

9. Describe the average day of a comedian.
A lot of quiet time in your head, then writing, then back to quiet time, then getting up on stage, then going home, then more quiet time. Its pretty intense.

10. Do you have any advice for aspiring comedians?
Speak from the heart.

11. Is it hard trying to be funny in a text-based interview instead of a audio/video interview? ;)
Nothing’s easy dude. Even you had to wait overnight for these answers as opposed to getting it from me over the phone in half an hour.

12. What was your first thought when you find out that you are going to be on TEDxKL?
Huh? Need to update bio.

Do not miss the chance to catch Rizal van Geyzel and other awesome speakers at TEDxKL on 3rd of August 2013 in Mid Valley Exhibition Centre. Grab your tickets here before it is sold out.