Wednesday, December 7

Never say no to opportunities

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Rising Bornean talents in Astro share same spirit of going for it, rather than not trying at all

(From left) Filzah, Sharif and Liew pose for the camera.

THEY are individuals with their own talents and personalities, but one thing that they have in common is the willingness to have a go at it regardless of outcome, instead of not trying at all.

Sharif Zero, Filzah Azmi and Calista Liew are Astro’s rising stars from Borneo who share this trait, though each of them expresses it differently.

Sharif, for one, said he was not confident of his ability to deliver comedy when he and his brothers, Syaiful and Atu, made their debut as the trio ‘Zero’ in Astro’s reality programme ‘Raja Lawak’ back in 2012.

Nevertheless, they charged on and put in their best effort.

‘We’re constantly rummaging for ideas on how we could better entertain the audience and keep the flow going, while ensuring that the audience would have a good time,” he told thesundaypost when met during a recent media programme at Astro Group’s headquarters in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.

Currently, Sharif is teaming up with fellow comedians Fad Bocey and Namie as the group ‘Ubi’, which is still on the running for the ‘Muzikal Lawak Superstar 2022’ competition.

For those unfamiliar with the word ‘lawak’, it basically means ‘jokes’ in Malay.

On the biggest challenge throughout his time as a comedian, Sharif said it would be attempting to do experimental skits because at times, such plan might not pan out on performing day.

“Say, if we got knocked out of a competition earlier than expected, then we’re just not able to show the audience the ideas that we had planned out for them,” said the Sabahan.

Nonetheless, he upheld the principle of ‘keep on trying’.

“You can fail over and over again, but as long as the opportunity to try is there, it’s important to keep on going until you’ve reached the stage that you’re satisfied with,” he described the beginning of his journey.

Lack of platform for Sabahans, Sarawakians

Sharif is always looking out for ways to help aspiring entertainers get recognised for their talents.

Having gained invaluable experience, including many challenges, Sharif said he strove to help out aspiring entertainers who wanted to have a start on a good footing in the industry.

Nevertheless, he also expressed his disappointment over the lack of platforms for Sabahans and Sarawakians to showcase their talents in mainstream entertainment.

According to him, auditions for programmes such as ‘Maharaja Lawak’ are no longer hosted in Sabah or Sarawak, as for now, such sessions are only being focused on Peninsular Malaysia for now.

“There are so many talents in Sabah and Sarawak who need a proper platform to showcase their skills to the public, but due to the costs involved in scouting and providing a platform for these talents, it’s rather difficult to do it alone.

“In this regard, I would need a team to help me out,” said Sharif.

Still, Sharif said despite the challenges faced, he remained persistent and would always look out for ways to help aspiring entertainers get recognised for their talents.

Fresh-faced Sharif, flanked by his brothers Syaiful (left) and Atu, in a photo taken during their early years in the business.

‘From mix-up to Miss Comedy’

It might have been a clear-cut decision for Sharif to venture into a reality comedy show, but for fellow comedian from Sarawak, Filzah Azmi, her entry into the industry was the result of a mix-up.

Filzah reminisces over the mix-up in 2013, which resulted in her entry into comedy performance.

“I actually signed up for the wrong competition!

“I intended to join a talent-search show on TV2 called ‘Mimpi Ke Bintang’ back in 2013.

“Backing on my family’s background on silat and seeing some of my friends join the competition, I did it too because it looked pretty fun,” she recalled.

Perhaps it was fate all along – Filzah was watching a show on TV3 when a short commercial promo on a new ‘Bintang Mencari Bintang’ popped out.

Thinking that it was the same competition as the one on TV2 due to both having similar names (‘bintang’ means ‘stars’ in Malay), she jotted down all the details about the TV3’s show, which was seeking new talents in comedy and singing. After that, she and a friend proceeded to sign up for the competition.

It was not until way later that Filzah realised she had entered the wrong talent show.

Nonetheless, she immediately composed herself and began readjusting her act, doing her best to incorporate silat in her sketch.

From there, her interest in comedy grew and she continued to seize every opportunity presented to her, up to her crowning as ‘Miss Lawak 2019’.

However, she admitted that the main problem that she faced after making her debut in the industry was lack of guidance in planning a proper comedy routine.

It was only until she moved over to stand-up comedy where she met a number of the country’s top performers such as Afdlin Shauki, who taught her a lot about the do’s and don’ts in comedy.

“I’m still trying out new things actively, as I always have even after being knocked out of some competitions prematurely, like the recent ‘Maharaja Lawak Muzikal 2022’.

“Until I get my time to showcase my skills and ideas, I would still be trying no matter what.

“For as long as I can, I’d like to show everyone what I’m capable of bringing to the table, and I’m not going to stop,” said Filzah, who aspired to reach the level of Zero and also her idol, Jihan Muse – currently Malaysia’s top female comedian who also had a start in Astro’s reality comedy show.

Filzah (centre), Nozz (left) and Kinjo performing their skit for Maharaja Lawak Muzikal 2022. — Photo courtesy of Astro

For Maharaja Lawak Muzikal 2022, Filzah was a part of the group ‘Benjo’, which also consisted of Nozz Hazwan and Kinjo. They, however, were knocked out on the second week of the competition.

‘A weird journey’

For Sabahan Calista Liew, becoming a radio announcer never crossed her mind.

She previously worked as a freelance emcee, a blogger and occasionally, a model.

Liew also hosts the SYOK podcast show, ‘The C Word With Calista’.

“It was a weird journey for me; (it) was rather impromptu.

“Back in 2016, HITZ Sabah was looking for a new announcer and they told me to send some voice demos.

“From that point on, my career in the radio industry kickstarted; I just went to make the best out of it,” she described her experience.

Liew said despite ‘making a living talking to people’, she would still get the so-called ‘stage fright’ every now and then.

Her way of overcoming this would be to ‘propel’ herself back into the game by focusing on what would be ahead, instead of on ‘what’s the worst that could happen’.

“So, don’t say no to any opportunity, even if you thought it’s not for you, because you’d never know – just try it out.

“Always say yes, and don’t be scared of opportunities,” said Liew, who is currently one of the radio announcers based at the main station in Bukit Jalil.

Liew is currently one of Astro’s radio announcers based at the main station in Bukit Jalil.

Apart from her figurative ‘day-job’ at HITZ, she is also the host for the SYOK podcast show, ‘The C Word With Calista’, where she talks with content creators about the current topics that affect the youths of today.

The show is now on its fourth season and has been receiving much hype since it received a shout-out from talk show host James Corden during an episode of the Emmy-winning ‘The Late Late Show with James Corden’ in September last year.