Top Malaysian comedian Zizan Razak eyes Indonesian market

It has been six years since comedian-turned-rapper Zizan Razak first took a leap of faith and ventured into music with the breezy R&B track, Bawaku Pergi.

But even after so many years, Zizan admits he still gets butterflies in his stomach every time he gets on stage to perform.

“When it comes to hosting or acting, that’s like my bread and butter. Performing as a rapper, it’s not my forte but it’s my passion.

“I don’t know how people will respond and then I start to overthink and get nervous about it,” shares the 34-year-old at an interview at Menara Star to talk about his new single, Kau Takkan Tahu.

“It’s good that there are people who like what I do and they want more. It encourages me to take my music more seriously and practise properly.”

The Dungun, Terengganu native who got his start as a contestant on reality comedy competition Raja Lawak back in 2007, also talks about starring in his first Indonesian comedy movie, Peluang Ke Duda.

“(Indonesian actor) Raffi Ahmad came to Malaysia and saw me on the poster of Abang Long Fadil 2. He asked around and someone said, ‘This is the No. 1 artiste in Malaysia’,” he shares how the opportunity came about.

“After that, he sent me a direct message on Instagram and introduced himself. A week later, I flew to Indonesia to have a discussion with him and the week after that, we started shooting.”

Zizan adds he mixed with the locals a lot to get acquainted with the Indonesian language. But learning to speak Bahasa Indonesia is one thing, understanding what Indonesians find humorous is another.

Zizan Razak

Zizan Razak got his start in showbiz after placing second on reality comedy series, Raja Lawak, in 2007. Photo: The Star/Yap Chee Hong

Asked how he delivered comedic moments to a target audience he’s not familiar with yet, the bachelor responds: “I like doing situational comedies. My comedy comes through in my dialogues usually.

“But because this is my introductory role in Indonesia, I’m doing more slapstick. So, there’s more body movement. When audiences get to know me more, I’ll change accordingly.”

Next, Zizan is set to star in a Malaysian-Indonesian production with legendary Indonesian actress Christine Hakim. Zizan is challenging himself as an actor, playing a dramatic role in the eight-episode series.

Currently, Zizan can be seen helming the weekly variety show Jozan Live with Johan, a comedian he partnered with on Maharaja Lawak (the all-star edition of Raja Lawak) in 2011.

“It’s been about six to seven years since we worked together. I miss working with him. He is one of the few people who can make me laugh out loud,” says Zizan.

1. In the duet, Kau Takkan Tahu, you chose to collaborate with a mysterious new singer (her identity is kept under wraps) when an established artiste could’ve given the song more exposure. Do you think it was a risky move?

I don’t think about whether it’s risky or not. I care more about having a quality song.

I tried putting big-named people on the song, and it’s not that their voices weren’t good, it’s just that this girl’s voice is suited for the song.

If she has talent, why not? Also, it’s a way to promote the song and create interest. People will ask, “Whose voice is this?”

2. Kau Takkan Tahu is a love song. What love lessons have you learned over the years?

You need to trust each other, be sincere, patient and honest. These are the things that will strengthen a relationship.

3. You’ve acted in a dramatic role in Polis Evo but people still see you more as a comedian. Playing a serious role in an upcoming Malaysian-Indonesian series, are you afraid it may not be as well-received as your comedic roles?

Malaysians know me as a comedian through Raja Lawak. For a long time I’ve been trying to satisfy the demands of the audience.

They want to see me in comedic roles. I won’t leave comedy behind but I also want to focus on the things that I want to do, which is telling serious stories.

I want to be able to win an award that’s decided by a panel of professional jury members. Or even if I don’t win an award, I want the experience of acting with someone who’s a jury at Cannes and have won awards (Christine Hakim was a jury on the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and has won numerous prestigious awards).

I want to learn what makes them award-winning actors.

I also think audiences today are more open to what an artiste can become.

4. Both you and Johan are very successful in your individual careers. Do you guys compete with each other?

What success he has attained, I’m happy for him. What success I have attained, he’s happy for me. There’s no jealousy or hatred.

Even if there are issues, we will work it out. Because if we join forces, we have more opportunities. If we fight and hate, in the end, we may both end up with nothing.

5. With a new government, what changes do you hope to see in the local entertainment industry?

We want more freedom to exercise our creativity. Of course, when it comes to things that involve politics and race … I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about fussing over small things; I hope we can loosen the reins a bit.

I also want artistes to be protected in things like royalties and intellectual property.

There is value to the ideas that we come up with.

I hope the government will look into the welfare of artistes.

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