Vivacious, spunky, and definitely not 50-looking comedian Hossan Leong recently announced his departure from stand-up with his final show, Hossan-Ah 50! Love You Leong Time!—news which came as quite a surprise, especially for fans of the local actor, who also hosted homegrown television programmes like We are Singaporeans.
But it’s just his stand-up persona, Hossan-Ah, that he’s chosen to put to rest—he hasn’t retired from showbiz completely. The comedian we know and love is still exploring new horizons and weighing his many options, so while we will miss his stand-up comedies, we know his jokes will still find their way back to our screens.
Ahead of his final show taking place Aug 14-31, and happening in celebration of his 50 years in Singapore, we caught up with the Singapore Boy to find out what led to his final performance, what audiences can look forward to at the show, and of course, what’s next for him.
Hossan-Ah! 2015 Photo: Double Confirm Productions
Besides your 50th birthday, what inspired Hossan-Ah 50! Love You Leong Time! ?
Just over a year ago, I contracted a deadly bacterial infection called Melioidosis, probably while filming a television series in Indonesia. It was so dire, that I was admitted to the A&E, where I was warded for a total of 10 days. Finally, on the eighth day, the doctor managed to determine the condition. It was a really scary time for me, but that also left me with a lot of time to reflect and think. And one word that really spoke to me was gratitude. I have plenty to be grateful for, including the people in my life. It was right there on the hospital bed, that I decided to do Hossan-Ah 50!.
How long has Hossan-Ah 50! Love You Leong Time! been in the works for?
The concept—a year ago; but I only started scripting and choosing the music earlier this year.
As a veteran comedian, why have you chosen to retire from stand-up at 50?
I’m not retiring. I’m putting this persona of Hossan-Ah to rest. Producing and performing in a solo show like Hossan-Ah 50! takes a lot out of me. Everything is self-funded, and I don’t want to bear the risk any longer. I will still continue to entertain audiences on-stage, in plays and musicals, as well as in television and films. I’ll also be directing more productions.
Can you share any themes or subjects you will be tackling for your final performance?
The joys of getting old, Singapore—foreign influences, pro-tips—how to parent your child by a non-parent, millennials—love them.
What part of the performance are you most excited for?
I’ll be playing the piano with a band. My first time was back in 2008, so this will be my second time.
You’ve also revealed that there’ll be a quick-change segment where you’ll portray eight Disney princesses in a mere 12 minutes, why Disney princesses?
I want to encourage the little girls, as well as the older girls who are coming to my show, by telling them it’s okay to make your dreams come true. All of us are equal beings, and we shouldn’t let anyone tell us otherwise.
What can your audience expect from your last stand-up show?
Laughs, heartfelt moments, singalong seshs and more laughs.
As the years go by, do writing jokes and comic content get harder or easier?
I find it harder to avoid offending people. This extends especially to performances where I’m told explicitly to avoid saying certain things, touching certain subjects and more. To which I’ll say, hire a jazz singer. Besides, if you are aware of my brand of humour, then well—any cleaner, and I’ll be a disinfectant!
Now that you’ll no longer be doing stand-up, what future endeavours lie ahead for you?
More work in theatre as an actor and director, hopefully more television and film work. I would also like to give the next generation of actors more work opportunities. Maybe I’ll even direct NDP. HAHAHA!
Lastly, any advice for young comedians looking to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t. I’m kidding! Go for it; if you don’t try, you’ll never know. Keep practicing, and go through plenty of rehearsals and preparations. Never go on stage and wing it.
Catch Hossan-Ah 50! Love You Leong Time! from Aug 14-31, at Drama Centre Theatre. Tickets start from $55, and are available here.