MOHD Zakry Kamal, better known as Papi Zak, has made a name for himself in the local comedy circuit.
He is familiar to visitors who frequent the comedy shows at live venues such as The Actors Studio, as well as to listeners of the REDfm and Lite FM radio station. He hosted “The Lite Breakfast with Zak & Sara’ on Lite FM for three years, and is currently on ‘The Late Late Breakfast with Papi & Grumpy’ on REDfm.
Being an accomplished radio announcer and emcee, Papi Zak will soon be on television as well. He will be the host of The Halal Foodie on GOASEAN (Astro Channel 737) premiering Tuesday (Jan 25) at 6.30pm.
The Rakyat Post catches up with Papi Zak for a brief moment.
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself, for a start.
A:I’m 37, a Capricorn, and my hometown is Kelana Jaya. My Dad is originally from Sabak Bernam in Selangor while my mum is from Taiping. My dad used to work as a civil servant at the Wisma Putra (Foreign Ministry) and he was stationed in different countries such as Japan, Belgium, and Egypt where I was born.
Q: You were born in Egypt and also got a chance to travel and experience life in other countries. What was the experience like for you?
A: Being a third culture kid, I learned so much about the life and culture of people in other countries. For example, I used to play games such as baseball with those of different background and race, and I saw myself as one of them instead of feeling like an outsider. Now, I see people as people, I am more accepting of differences and more open to new ideas.
Q: How did you get the moniker ‘Papi’?
A: While studying in the United States many years ago, I worked part-time at the Johnny Rockets Restaurant. The staff were mostly Mexicans and they called me ‘papi’, which is an endearing term meaning ‘daddy’. Even in my football team (while in the US), the team members call me ‘Big Daddy’. The name papi somehow stuck, though.
Q:When did you get your big break in the comedy circuit?
A: I never expected comedy to be a career choice even though I loved watching stand-up comedies way back in the US. Among my favourite comedians are Eddie Murphy and Dave Chapelle. When I arrived in Malaysia after completing my studies in the US, I was looking for a job and I somehow managed to get a freelancing gig with a production company run by (actor) Hans Isaac.
I also worked behind the scenes at The Actors Studio way back (when the theatre was) at Bangsar (Shopping Centre). I braved myself to ask Harith Iskander if I can ‘open a scene’ for his stand-up comedy open-mic night. Since then, offers poured in for me to do comedy shows. I got my first radio hosting gig in 2010 and I accepted it. I was willing to try anything and I was glad I did.
Q: What are the similarities and differences between being a radio host and doing stand-up comedies?
A: If you fumble during stand-up comedy shows, you can quickly compose yourself, but radio is live and yo can’t afford to slip-up. So, radio gigs keep me sharp.
Q: At this point, is there anything that you want to try but haven’t had the chance to?
A: Nope, nothing comes to mind now. I was a late bloomer, but I can say I’m pretty happy at this point. I have taken every opportunity to do what I wanted to do during my younger days, such as getting involved in television productions and doing behind-the-scenes jobs.
Q: Tell me a little bit about the ‘Halal Foodie Show’.
A:It is an eight-episode weekly programme about where Muslim travellers can get halal food in the Southeast Asian region. Besides the food, it will tell viewers about the Muslim communities in the countries (featured in the show). The pilot episode will highlight the city of Bangkok.
Q: What do you enjoy most about doing the show?
A: The free food and free travel, of course!