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In the business of laughs

ALLAN Yong Seow Poh, also known as “Uncle Allan” to many of his younger fans, set out to prove to himself that he could make it in the entertainment industry, and 10 years on, he has achieved that. 

His passion for variety arts propelled the 46-year-old ventriloquist to start his own company, Allan & Friends Studio.  

“When I first ventured into puppetry and ventriloquism, it was more a way of communicating with young people,” said Yong. 

“Back then, I did not know how I would be able to survive. I had no agent, and knew no one in the entertainment industry,” he added.  

Yong (centre) with some of his friends.
But with encouragement from friends and relatives and the support of his family, Yong believes he has proved he is capable of making a living out of his hobby.  

“We learn to overcome challenges one by one, trusting God to help us pull through.  

“Today, we have about 20 side entertainers and associates with Allan & Friends,” he explained.  

Each performance is an opportunity for the Economics graduate from Monash University to further improve on his trade.  

“It is all about trial and error. We continue to improve each time we perform,” said the former youth worker.  

Averaging between two or three shows a month these days, Yong is mainly engaging his time to train and mentor other entertainers.  

Ventriloquism has always been his forte.  

“It is the best means of building bridges with audiences of all ages,” he said, “People love talking puppets.”  

His favourite puppets, Ernie, Eddy and Coconut, have been with him from the beginning.  

“Ernie, who is a younger version of Eddy, is a Sesame Street puppet and is mischievous and always ready to answer back. 

“Coconut, on the other hand, is a shy and innocent male character. They make a great team on most of my shows.”  

Yong explained that ventriloquism was a simple art, but took a great deal of practice to master.  

“It is all about illusions. The first few minutes are the most crucial moments, when the audience's focus is on you and not the puppet.  

“Once their focus is on the talking puppet, then it gets easier as people would not notice the movement of your lips,” he said.  

In the early years, Yong's wife Veronica also doubled up as a clown, known as “Bubbles.” Today, she is the financial controller for Allan & Friends Studio. 

“We are also getting many corporate clients who hire us for their family events,” he said.  

“Chief executive officers of major corporations also need to laugh. When people ask me my business, I always tell that we are in the laughing industry. People pay us to laugh,” he said.  

Among many he has entertained included Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, during a special tour of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport before its official opening. 

“We were all stationed at different locations at KLIA, where we were supposed to surprise the then Prime Minister,” he said. “The moment he arrived, we sprang into action with our little gimmicks.”  

Besides corporate clients, Allan Yong has also entertained princes and princesses throughout the years during their birthday parties. 

“It is always fun making people laugh.  

“We all need a good laugh at the end of the day,” he added.  




  


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