Like the Malays who had Momo Latiff and Abang Apek in the 60s, the Chinese community had their share of comedians too, Wang Sah and Yeh Fong were a famous pair in the 60s and 70s. They had appeared in numerous stage shows with our bands and were TV and movie stars.
The duos' popularity grew when they started appearing on both local Chinese and English television channels and were heard over the radio and Rediffusion. As their mass appeal ballooned, they recorded songs in local Chinese dialects, which sold well.
Dubbed the Laurel and Hardy of Singapore and just as well known in Malaysia, Taiwan and Hongkong they enjoyed a successful career with their humorous sketches, speaking a chaotic mix of Chinese dialects, especially their own which was Teochew, with Singlish (pidgin English), pasar (bazaar) Malay and even Tamil.
The late Wang Sa (1924 - 1998) and Ye Fong (1932 - 1995) whose real names were Heng Kim Ching and Seow Tian Chye kept most Singaporeans glued onto their television sets when they appeared on the small screen with their wit and comic banter.
Chinese variety shows like Sharp Night (声宝之夜), sponsored by Sharp Television, were produced by Television Singapura and in their heyday，Wang Sa and Ye Fong were always around for rib-tickling laughter with their cross-talk routine, mimicry and farcical imitation of Singapore lifestyle they knew well enough to make fun of. As in most comedy, Wang Sa and Yeh Fong perfected their timing, candor and displayed flawless chemistry together.
They were the island's version of comic duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy from the US and were the grand old men of Singapore comedy. Affectionately known as Ah Pui and Ah San (The Fat One and Skinny One) they met in the 1960s on Xin Sheng Ge Tai ( 新生歌台) or live theatre and had never looked back. They had since become household names.
Many youngsters today may not understand their Hokkien catchphrase: Ah Tee ah, agak-agak chiu hor ah! (Brother, take it easy!) and Oi Ah Boi? (You sure you can?) They worked together from the 1960s till 1972 and then split to try their luck at movie-making in Hong Kong.
They appeared in several Cantonese movies there. These two became Singapore's only Asian movie stars. The huge box-office success of their 1974 Hongkong debut, The Crazy Bumpkins (阿牛入城記) spawned three sequels and Ye Fong was the most outstanding comedian in the 20th Asian Film Festival.
They had also appeared in other movies like The Mad Monk and Mr. Funnybone. Like their stage antics, their movies were awesome to watch and, you guessed it, filled the cinema halls with mirth.
The news of their demise in the late 90s was not taken too lightly by Singaporeans as fans had lost two of the most loved icons from the 60s. Up till today, no pair could match their wit and versatility in the local world of comedy.
I have a good collection of their Extended Play (EPs) vinyl as indicated on the YouTube video below.
*The National Theatre had a revolving stage.
thanks for your constant support for the Blog/FB postings. Your comments are always welcome, especially with your background. I was just wondering if you could write an article about the show where you played when Wang Sa, Yeh Fung, and Rita Chao appeared in KL. If you have photos, they'll be a bonus. Thanks again.
The shows we played were in cinemas featuring mostly Chinese singers where Wang Sa, Yeh Fung, Sakura, and Rita came down from Singapore. I do not have any photos of them. I have two black and white individual photos of Sakura and Rita with their signature on it. Unfortunately, the management did not give us back those taken on stage.
Most of the shows were staged in Star cinema situated in Pudu. All the tickets were sold out within an hour and the management had to add seats to make more money. It was a real experience playing with Sakura and Rita. I used to tease Sakura backstage and she would chase me around but Rita was a quiet person.
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