Farah Lola
Top, Moncler. Skirt, Kate Spade New York. Headpiece, Eskapade. Socks, Gucci.

This year, we celebrate Singapore’s comedy queens and funny girls who have captured our hearts, tickled our ribs and got us thinking and reflecting on ourselves and society at large. Whether it’s through stand-up, sketches, or film, these funny girls have the courage, flair and smarts to not only succeed in the world of comedy, but to also thrive in it. Meet Farah Lola, a 31-year-old comedian and actress.

When did you first discover that you had the gift of making someone laugh and what did you do with that discovery?

I was always the secondary character that punched up the class clown’s joke. I was always the hype girl. If somebody made a joke, you best believe that I will laugh my ass off, even if the teacher would get mad. I would laugh and add on to the joke.

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Comedy is powerful because…

Comedy is powerful because you can send powerful messages in a way that people will be receptive to them. There are so many jokes that are non-discussable outside of comedy, but onstage you can talk about political topics, and when there’s trust between the audience and you, you can talk about anything.

Over the years, how have you honed your comedy skills and what have you discovered about how your mind works?

I feel like I’m not a mean person, but naturally an observant person. I joke in a way that’s more a commentary on what I’ve been observing about people, and mostly I do character work. If I find people who annoy me, I’ll take that and I’ll twist it into a funny thing and I’ll be that character. So, it’s all about observation, observing what makes them the way they are. Especially if you have quirky mannerisms or mannerisms that just put me off or are repetitive, I will put that in the bank.

What are the challenges in making comedy a career, and in that sense, treating it as a business?

People feel like if you’re a funny person, that means you can do all forms of humour, which is not true. I don’t think I could do stand-up comedy. At the same time, a stand-up comedian may not be the best actor. People feel that we cover the whole thing. A lot of times they ask me to do slapstick, but it’s just not natural for me, and when I do something that people consider funny, but cannot deliver it in the way they want, it doesn’t feel right to me. 

What is your proudest achievement or accomplishment to date? Why? 

When I won an award for [the] Pesta Perdana Awards show in 2021, I was really proud because it was not really for me. It was really for my mom, because my mom is my biggest fan, and then she was able to see me do that.

Is there anything you won’t joke about?

I felt like I would joke about anything. It’s just a matter of the audience that I have.

Who or what makes you laugh?

People who are trying to be serious and being caught off guard. That always makes me laugh. Or people trying to be serious, but who end up looking stupid. Whenever people try to be serious and stupid, I think that’s my favourite part. I like American sketch humour. I watch a lot of TV, so Community, Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development. I’m really a fan of comedy, so in any form, I would take it in. I might not be the one doing it, but I will always give comedy a chance even if it’s slapstick, stand-up comedy or musicals, even.

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What does power look like to you?

Being able to say no without having to explain myself. For me as a woman, I feel that I apologise a lot for having to say no. I’m not sure if I’m there yet, but I would like to get to a point where I can just say no and not have to feel bad about it. 

In what mode do you feel most powerful?

When I’m funny and everybody laughs at my joke. That’s where I feel like I’ve got you all in the palm of my hand. 

So you feel powerful when you’re performing, or even when you do sketches and videos, since it’s not exactly a live, interactive audience?

For me, it’s very meta since I live online.

What’s one thing you would change about your industry?

That’s a loaded question. Since I’m so multifaceted or maybe multi-dimensional, I’m on TV but I also do online influencer work, or funny videos, or I host. So I think [people] should give funny girls a chance. They don’t know where to put us in, so they don’t really give us all the jobs.

You mean non-funny jobs? 

Yes. For instance, Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was so good. So maybe not pigeonholing funny girls. For them to engage us, they already know we have an audience, right? So a lot of times, people write something funny and expect you to do a funny bit. But we should have an opinion, because ‘funny’ is so specific sometimes. The way you deliver something funny is different. Even with acting, it’s so crucial to the actor that they are able to deliver that part. Thus, it’s very important to ask the committed actor their opinion on how they will deliver something.

What’s the most fulfilling thing about what you do?

I think the response I get. If I find something funny, but I don’t get a response, then is the joke still there? When people go out of their way to tell me or send me a message saying I made their day, that’s when I feel I’m doing something.

Can you share more about a time when humour helped you get through something difficult?

How I navigate difficult situations is to make light of it with a job. When I have low self-esteem, or when I am unsure of myself, it’s always better to share it in the form of a joke so I realise it’s not that serious.

The biggest misconception about my job is…

I am one note. I can only do funny. I can do everything.

So what would you like to do beyond the opportunities you’ve been given? 

I would love to do a serious drama series. For me, funny feels so personal. I am my funniest when I have the most control over it, instead of having to do somebody else’s idea or material. Doing something personal and mine, as well as serious dramas.

What do you think is the most important quality for a comedian?

Risk. When you’re safe, you’re not funny. Or not having guts. Not just giving people what they want, but also what you find funny. You can just make a list of this and that. People like relatability, but I feel like you should take risks and do things that might not possibly be funny, and it may surprise you.

Who are your heroes and icons? 

Well, I would say first was my brother [Fakkah Fuzz]. He’s a comedian. He was the first to foray into this comedic side. Female comedians like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, I love them so much. They’re my comedy heroes.

Can you tell us a bit more about any upcoming projects that you have?

I just completed this YouTube series with Tropic Monsters TV, a YouTube channel. It’s a localised version of Friends. There are eight episodes, if I’m not wrong. It’s pretty funny. It’s called Living With An Expat. So it’s more of a sketch sitcom, and it’s scripted. We have Jeremiah, who wrote and directed it. When I did the table read, it was pretty funny and I laughed out loud. I love it when somebody has the same sense of humour, since we can work together and punch up each other’s ideas, and make it extra funny. Since Jeremiah is my friend, if he had something that was pretty funny or not so funny, I would always suggest an alternative to him. He has been pretty receptive to it. So I’m very excited about it.

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How would you describe yourself? Are you a performer, a comedian? 

I feel multi-faceted. I call myself an actor, comedian, both equally in that sense. I’m keen to take on more acting roles outside of my own sketch comedy. The things online come first, and then I love acting. I think that’s the next thing I’m most passionate about.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Photographed by Wee Khim
Creative direction and styling by Windy Aulia 
Producers: Cindy Ow, Navin Pillay 
Makeup: Manisa Tan 
Hair: Karol Soh
Stylist’s assistants: Naysa Pradhan, Zoe Tauro