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Building Singapore’s live arts scene one satirical comedy at a time

One third of the Dim Sum Doilies, Selena Tan has made a name for herself in the local Singaporean theatre community. The founder of Dream Academy and the woman behind some of Singapore’s favourites such as Broadway Beng, Meenah and Cheenah, and Kumar’s standup comedies is now back for another year of Happy Ever Laughter, this time with a twist. More on that a little later.

We caught up with Selena recently just before her show to chat a little about her journey into the performing arts and what it’s been like producing, writing, and creating live shows for the Singaporean audience.

Selena’s journey onto the stage was unconventional, and possibly familiar to some of you already so we’ll breeze through. As a child, Selena was always involved in performance – from choirs to drama clubs, debates, and oratorical. Inevitably, she started to get involved in community theatre and attended a youth theatre camp by the American community theatre group STARS where she met Roger Jenkins and Christina Sergeant who went on to become her mentors.

At the same time, Selena was also studying to become a lawyer. In fact, she practised as a lawyer for about three and a half years before deciding to pursue entertainment full-time. After about a year and a half of juggling her job as a lawyer and her roles in theatre, Selena decided it was time to choose one. Theatre won out.

‘While I was young and had no obligations as it were….I thought ok, I’d just try it’.

One role led to another and then another and eventually, everything started coming together. Having tried her hand at dramatic pieces and musical comedies, Selena’s next leap into standup comedy led to the creation of the well-received Broadway Baby Kailan.

Of course, anyone in the entertainment industry can attest to the fact that finding a steady stream work can be a difficult task – especially in the local scene where live performances are still not quite as mainstream. That is why Selena founded Dream Academy in February 2000, with her own savings of S$13,000. It was a way to create work for herself and the local community.

Building your own business, especially a for-profit entertainment company, is no easy feat and not without its ups and down. Having to spend a lot of time marketing when you’d rather be creating can really take a toll. But throughout the years, Selena has proven time and time again hard work, perseverance, and a great sense of humour can be extremely rewarding. Thanks to the many productions Dream Academy has put on to date, the Singaporean audience has become more and more receptive to the idea of finding entertainment on stage instead of just onscreen.

When asked about satirical comedy and the reception from the Singaporean audience towards specific political or societal satire, Selena notes that in her experience, the Singaporean audiences are quite savvy. This comes across clearly when they’re able to laugh at the joke and appreciate the relatability of satirical comedy. After all, comedy is just another way for people to vent their own frustrations and feel a little lighter. It’s this kind of relatable satire that usually leaves a lasting impression.

With this latest instalment of Happily Ever Laughter, Selena is bringing together 12 of Singapore’s best standup comedians for an on-stage onslaught of hilarity. Audiences can expect these masters of laughter to pull out all the punches and cover every kind of topic, representing Singapore across the board. This fourth year however, this standup special will invite the audiences to cheer for their favourites and ultimately decide who wins the battle.

It is the biggest local live standup comedy event in the country and you can expect Singapore’s finest comedians to keep you laughing throughout the night in Capitol Theatre Stage.

Tickets can be brought from SISTIC’s website.

Wed, 11 – Sun, 29 Jul 2018
Tue – Sat:  8pm
Sat & Sun:  3pm

Price for Standard (Tue – Thu, Sat Matinee & Sun):
Standard: S$130, S$110, S$90, S$70
Restricted View: S$90, S$70

Weekend (Fri & Sat Night):
Standard: S$140, S$120, S$100, S$80
Restricted View: S$100, S$80

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