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SM16

ARTS

STARMAG, SUNDAY 17 AUGUST 2008

By NIKI CHEONG
starmag-feedback@
thestar.com.my
N my way upstairs to the studio where The Fairly Current
Show is recorded, I bump into
the mother of one of the shows
principals. Not surprising, because
she lives in the house that the studio is in.
Welcome to the world of the
indie Internet talk show, where you
have absolutely professional recordings made in a well equipped studio
that comprises cosy little cushionfilled rooms (and Mum downstairs)
rather than a formal commercial
setting.
There is nothing at all conventionally commercial about this
project that is run by a small team
of six: theres creative producer
Mark Teh; show host Fahmi Fadzil;
Hardesh Singh (whose mum I
bumped into) and his business partner Adam William, founders of
Popfolio Sdn Bhd that runs Pop TV,
the site hosting the show; and videographers and editors Aaron Chung
and Akash Singh.
When Fahmi, 27, explains how
the show came about, its very obvious this is a labour of love: We
decided that whatever we do, we
have no money so we had to turn to
the DIY culture that the indie scene
is familiar with.
Our friends are indie filmmakers
and theatre people, and this is the
reality, we decided: we borrow our
friends cameras, and Hardesh has
this beautiful studio, and we run
with it.
Then we did the pilot, and it
worked, he smiles.
The Fairly Current Show is currently (no pun intended) in its 10th episode on Pop TV (popteevee.popfolio.
net).
Mark and I have been talking for
awhile about doing a show where
we can interview a range of interesting people, Fahmi explains from
where hes sitting casually on the
floor.
We were thinking how cool it
would be to find some way to
present opinions and discuss things
that the mainstream media is not
immediately interested in.
They were already talking about
perhaps creating a channel on (free
video sharing website) YouTube
when Hardesh proposed that they
work on this project.
The idea is that we release episodes once a week, so were not
exactly current, Teh, 27, says. We
wanted to do something that wasnt
too serious, thats weekly, and
where we could zero in on two or

Fairly Current,
very exciting
They modestly call it The Fairly Current Show because only weekly
episodes are aired. But what these creative people are doing is very
much up to the minute in todays World Wide Web-connected world.

The Fairly Current Shows team kicks back in its homey studio. From left: Fahmi Fadzil, Adam William, Mark
Teh, Hardesh Singh, Aaron Chung, and Akash Singh. RAYMOND OOI / The Star
three areas of conversation.
Teh and Fahmis faces would be
familiar to anyone who knows even
a little bit about the Malaysian arts
scene. They co-founded Akshen, a
young theatre group affiliated to the
Five Arts Centre in 2000 and created
some of the more engaging, brilliant
pieces of theatre among youth.
From the stage, Teh and Fahmi
moved to the airwaves when Teh
became one of the co-producers of
The Very Moody Show on the now
defunct WOW FM in 2003, while
Fahmi hosted a TV show on local
films called Shortcuts in 2005.
Teh and Fahmi are also active in
the more politicised aspects of the
arts in Malaysia Fahmi is a known

advocate of the wayang kulit, while


Tehs work in community arts in
Taman Medan, Kuala Lumpur, has
been well documented.
For this work, Teh was designated
Boh Cameronian Arts Awards Most
Promising Artiste in 2003 and
Fahmi received the same recognition in 2007.
Most significantly, however, is
their work in engaging the community in theatre and taking theatre
out to the masses by moving
beyond conventional theatre spaces.
When you know this about them,
moving into cyberspace, the last
frontier, seems only logical.
To date, Fahmi has spoken to a
myriad of personalities on the show

including filmmaker Yasmin


Ahmad, Subang Jaya assemblyman
Hannah Yeoh, and journalist
Jacqueline Ann Surin. Next week,
they are scheduled to release a
show featuring fishermen in Johor
talking about the Middle Rocks controversy, the shows first outdoor
shoot since its inception.
(Johor fishermen are unhappy
that they have yet to receive the
Malaysian Fisheries Departments
go ahead to fish in waters around
the two rocky outcrops in the
Singapore Strait that comprise the
Middle Rocks even though the territorial dispute with Singapore was
settled in Malaysias favour by the
International Court of Justice on

May 23.)
This is like an experiment, Teh
says, referring to the shows nature,
as he explains the decision to try
the riskier outdoor shoot. Were
able to try out new things and
engage different audiences.
And that, for someone known for
taking theatre out of its usual space
and to the masses, is vital.
Im finding that were engaging
different audiences differently.
Were maybe bit more distant than
we would be in a live theatre setting, but we can engage them in
ways live performances cannot,
Teh says.
Just like with Fahmi Rezas
Sepuluh Tahun Sebelum Merdeka (the
FreedomFilmFest07 documentary),
when the DVD came out, suddenly,
we could take it to 40 different colleges, even into Kelantan!
While Teh, the producer, is challenged by the space in which hes
working, Fahmi, the host, is challenged by the programmes format
because it gives him the opportunity to try out a different form of
performance, one in which he
doesnt have to talk much.
I see myself primarily as a performer and a writer, and the work
that I do is usually very verbal oral
so Im testing how I can refrain
from saying a lot of things, he
explains.
A talk show host who doesnt talk
much? Fahmi points to British stalwart Sir Michael Parkinson (of popular TV talk show Parkinson, now
ended after a 25-year run) who was
renowned for talking little, and then
only to prod his guests to tell their
stories.
I like to see things revealed spontaneously, which is one of the elements of going live. The programme
provides this sensorial excitement
and space for spontaneity.
Seven minutes (the duration of
each segment; see About the show
below for more details) unedited
allows a lot of things to happen, and
it comes down to how you play,
sway, and influence the show, he
explains.
No one really knows how far this
programme will go as a business
venture; after all, Internet TV is still
in its infancy here in Malaysia
although a number of shows have
recently begun, including The Star
Onlines News Daily (thestaronline.
tv), online reality show Malaysian
Dreamgirl, and drama Kerana Karina.
But for those like Teh and Fahmi,
who are using the opportunity to
explore new spaces, polish their
craft, and present new forms of art,
then the sky, like cyberspace, is the
limit.
And that is great news for the
public.

About the show


THE Fairly Current Show can be
viewed at popteevee.popfolio.net.
A new seven-minute episode is
released every Thursday; footage
is released as is, which means it is
uncut, unedited, and uncensored.
The episodes short length is a
deliberate choice; the idea is to
produce nugget-sized bites of
information in a medium where
audience attention span is limited.
In fact, the shows creators are
working towards making the episodes even shorter, about five
minutes.
The latest episode, #10, is an
interview with the writer and
freelance MC who goes only by
Zain H.D.

Zain organised the KL Freeze (in


April) and KLX (June) flash mob
events (a flash mob is a group of
strangers organised, usually, by
cell phones and online social networks, that gathers in a public
place, behaves in a pre-determined and often attention-grabbing manner for a set period of
time, and then quickly disperses).
In KL Freeze, about 1,000 people
gathered at Pavilion KL after
answering a shout out on social
networking website Facebook that
called for people to congregate
there and freeze simultaneously
for four minutes before dispersing.
KLX involved various acts,
including singing Happy Birthday
on the LRT journey from KL

Sentral to Suria KLCC, and it culminated with participants congregating in the KLCC park, pretending to shoot each other, and then
dropping dead.
On episode 10 of The Fairly
Current Show, Zain talks about his
next event, the RWP: Read While
Waiting Project.
RWP will take place at 3pm on
Aug 23. There will be a shout out
on Aug 20 giving specific locations to which participants have
to go and where they have to
spend 15 minutes reading (not
out loud).
Go to popteevee.popfolio.net to
catch the episode and to Zains
website, RandomAlphabets.com,
In this still from The Fairly Current Shows latest episode, #10, Fahmi Fadzil
for updates and details.
(left) interviews Zain H.D. about his Aug 23 flash mob event.