The difficulties Kumar faced made him look at life from a different perspective.
Mention Kumarason Chinnadurai and many may not know who he is. However, just say Singaporean comedian Kumar and laughter follows.
With a career that now spans over three decades in the world of stand-up comedy, Kumar has made many laugh with his jokes and acquired fans from all over the world.
That is however not all there is to this versatile performer.
We had the chance to sit with him recently to peel off the layers that make up this talented individual.
Kumar did not tell anyone in his family that he was pursuing comedy as a career option or his choice to cross-dress while performing.
Coming from a very conservative Indian background, it was hard to convince them that this was a job. Eventually, they realized that it was a job. It’s paying the billsKumar
In a shocking revelation, Kumar said his father initially thought of him as a prostitute. Kumar did not correct him and allowed him to deal with it himself as those days there wasn’t much support for the LGBT community.
Many may not know that Kumar had suffered an abusive childhood.
I could have gone the wrong way but I made all the disadvantages to my advantage, took it a day at a time, with parents especiallyKumar
The reason for this, according to Kumar, was because he faced a situation of either “swimming” or “drowning” and he chose to swim.
These bitter experiences have made him look at life from a different perspective. For example, he said that children should not blame their parents if they turn into violent adults due to an abusive childhood.
He even added that although he and his sisters were from an abusive household, they did not turn into violent adults.
Even when his father showed his anger from his failed marriage towards Kumar, he waited patiently and prayed and hoped for the light at the end of the tunnel.
My father is from India so could not deal with the divorce. So, all the reminders of the failed marriage were us, so he took it out on us. But it’s okay, we always believe, just pray and things will get better.Kumar
Challenges Of Parenting
Recently the news on how Kumar became the parent of his friend’s child was released and it also went viral on social media platforms.
When asked about his take on parenting today, Kumar said that a parent should have patience and unconditional love.
A parent should also try to understand their children which he also did with his son, Sathin, 31.
……but you have to understand that he (Sathin) is very stubborn, doesn’t talk, doesn’t communicate. But the love he has is unconditional. So, you must be patient and understand the kid a bit more. Let go, pull back.Kumar
However, being a parent can be a tough job as kids these days are so immersed in social media that they lack the social skills to communicate with people.
Not only kids but some parents also rely on social media in bringing up their kids.
….they give all their kids phones and iPads. The iPads are the babysitter, and the phones are the babysitter.Kumar
He said some parents insist on having dinner together with family or spending time together as a family without the influence of technology which he considers as healthy for the kids and the family.
Additionally, he said as a parent, you cannot bring up children based on how you were brought up and he emphasised that parents today must communicate with their children.
Besides that, Kumar also said that his son has also become a parent and now he also has to learn parenting skills to bring up his children.
Kumar came into comedy by accident. Back in the day, he was moonlighting, and that is when he had the chance to perform stand-up in a club.
It was a scripted act, and his role was an Indian movie queen.
When asked what he would have pursued had it not been stand-up comedy, Kumar said he would have been a dancer.
“I was an Indian classical dancer when I was very young. My father found out, all hell broke loose so I stopped halfway in,” Kumar said.
However, when he got older, he went into dancing again and did some stage acting. Nevertheless, once he did his first stand up performance, everything else just felt into place for him.
When asked about comedy and why he loves doing it, Kumar said that he loves to see people smile. It is his way of giving back to the people.
He even said that there was once a time after the pandemic when people came up to him and thanked him for helping them with their mental health.
“After Covid, people have come up to me and said, you have moved me from depression to out of it by just watching you,” he said.
For his comedy content, Kumar said that he observes a lot of current affairs and the things that people face in their day-to-day lives and he finds a funny side to it.
“You must be relevant. I do a lot of current affairs. I watch people…do lots of observation,” Kumar said.
Many people who come to his show can connect with his content. He also mentioned that his audience has been changing a lot these days.
“Now a lot of youngsters are coming. A lot more Indians are also realising that it’s not a bad thing” he said.
He also observed that after Covid, people did not mind getting roasted at a comedy show and they were open to communicating with the stand-up comedian.
Kumar added that people were more open in talking about topics such as sex and relationships.
He pointed out that 20 years ago, generally people were not ready to receive such content and he was the first stand-up comedian to speak about sex in Singapore.
However, conservative people still exist and Kumar said they had a choice to not attend his shows.
Even his mother has only watched him perform once as she is a very conservative woman. She even commented on his shows asking why his dress must be very short and If the audience in the front can see his “inners”.
Comedy – A skill Or A Talent
To this question, Kumar said that a person must first possess talent and then master the skill. This is because a performer must be able to manoeuvre seriousness into a joke.
He also shared an incident when he realised that in India, they sold condoms in different flavours of curries. He said that the whole thing can be a segment of jokes.
In his experience, he shared a few examples of how a comedian should be able to take serious news or a serious incident and turn it into a joke by looking at the lighter side of things.
However, he tries his best not to include new social changes in his content as in his opinion it is deemed unhealthy.
… I always say this; the new social thing is not very healthy. So, I think as long as you can stay away from it, try. Everyone can live without itKumar
Nevertheless, he still tries to make his point in a funny way by taking content from TikTok that is good and even credits the content creator.
Most memorable show
A memorable show for Kumar is the one he did in Malaysia last year.
He even said that Malaysia is one of the best countries he has ever performed in.
“Actually, every city was good in their own way. But the blast is always here (Malaysia),” he remarked.
Not only does he enjoy performing here, he also loves the food in Malaysia.
His favourite restaurant is Kopi Kau Kau and he likes the Nasi Lemak that is served there.
Kumar also commented on the social media rivalry between Malaysia and Singapore when it comes to food, saying it has to stop as it is very unhealthy.
“I think they have to stop. I think it is really very unhealthy to amplify the rivalry because it’s unhealthy competition, so both sides don’t want to accept who is right, who is wrong,” Kumar said.
He also added that there are much better things to do in life than arguing on whose food is better.
Tips For Young Comedians
An advise he has for young comedians is that they should try to get good content but he thinks it is not a job they should go for.
This is because the industry has become tougher than when he started 30 years ago.
Since he was the only one in Singapore 30 years ago, it was easier for him in a way but he still had to work hard to earn the people’s love.
“But if you are going to try now, there are a lot of other competitors. It is a big challenge for you. You have to be different because everyone thinks about the same thing,” Kumar said.
Nevertheless, many people look at Kumar as an inspiration.
For someone who broke the barriers and came up in his life, there is a lot we can learn from this comedian and how he looks at life.