Gurmit Singh Of Phua Chu Kang Fame Now Plans To Make Hero Singh Famous

The idea to play Hero Singh came to Gurmit when he was brainstorming for a Laugh Die You Show in 2017.

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Gurmit Singh, widely recognised for his portrayal of the eccentric contactor Phua Chu Kang, is now aiming to introduce a new character, Hero Singh, to the limelight

Born Gurmit Ottawan Singh, the 59-year-old Singaporean comedian and entertainer hails from mixed parentage.

His father, a Sikh, worked as a watchman for most of his life, while his mother is of Chinese-Japanese descent. Gurmit was raised a Sikh but converted to Christianity in 1985.

So, the idea of playing Hero Singh, a Sikh security guard, came naturally to Gurmit.

The character concept of Hero Singh was conceived during a brainstorming session for a Laugh Die You Show in 2017

Gurmit felt that Phua Chu Kang had been overused for Laugh Die You.

"Phua Chu Kang is not my intellectual property (IP). It belongs to the TV station (Mediacorp), which is fine," Gurmit said to SAYS, adding that he can't keep playing the eccentric general contractor forever. It was time to create a new character.

"So we were thinking about what we can do to bring a new character on to the stage. I told my team that I'm Indian but I've never done an Indian character."

Taking inspiration from his mixed parentage, Gurmit decided on Hero Singh.

Gurmit revealed that the character of Hero Singh is constantly evolving based on audience feedback and reactions

Fun fact: Gurmit said he used to wear a red turban when attending prayers at the gurdwara during his time as a Sikh.

Image via Popcorn Studio (Gurmit Singh)

Unlike Phua Chu Kang, whose character was meticulously planned from the start, Hero Singh was created pretty quickly. However, like the eccentric general contractor, the security guard's character is constantly evolving.

To Gurmit, audience feedback is crucial for shaping Hero Singh's character.

"From my observation of people's body language, whether they smile, whether they laugh, or if they're confused, I have to be adaptable and flexible to see what works and what doesn't work," Gurmit said, adding that it takes courage to accept that some comedic routines don't work.

"It cannot be an ego thing. As a comedian, you have to distance yourself from what makes you happy because at the end of the day, it's not about what makes me happy, but it's about what makes audiences happy."

Gurmit believes that despite being stereotypes, Phua Chu Kang and Hero Singh are familiar and relatable to audiences

"When I do these comedy roles, if anything, I am looking for are stereotypes. Because for the audience it's easy to recognise," he revealed.

Phua Chu Kang was created because he was easily recognisable. Singaporeans and Malaysians have come across such a personality at some point in their lives. Due to this, the character didn't need to be established. Gurmit believes it's the same with Hero Singh.

"If you already know the characters in the first five minutes and can gel with them well, then you can go on a journey with them and we can go on with the comedy now."

To Gurmit, laughter is not only the best medicine, but also a tool to break barriers too

"As soon as humour is out of your life for an extended period of time, and it varies from individual to individual, you find yourself becoming a very angry, bitter beast."

He believes a lack of humour is causing turmoil in the world today. Yet, if humour is utilised strategically, it can unite people.

He recalled that in the 1990s, the Singaporean government requested him to visit Johor Bahru as Phua Chu Kang to help ease tensions between his country and Malaysia over a water issue.

"On stage, when I started my item as Phua Chu Kang, it started to drizzle," Gurmit said, expressing delight that the audience didn't budge despite the rain.

He decided to step off of the stage and into the rain as a show of solidarity with the audience members.

"And then I said, 'This is the way it should be lah hah? You stand by me, I stand by you. Got water or no water, never mind. We take care of each other.'"

Phua Chu Kang proceeded to sing 'Stand By Me' by Ben E. King.

"That sort of broke the tension. Both countries were able to meet after that a couple of days later to talk about the water issue and it was resolved."

You can catch Gurmit play Hero Singh at Laugh Die You on 20 and 21 July

Image via Popcorn Studio

Gurmit is set to bring Hero Singh to Malaysia on 20 and 21 July at Laugh Die You: Hero Singh Live in KL 2024 at the HGH Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur.

The comedy event, produced by Popcorn Studio, will also feature Malaysia’s King of Swing Sharizan Borhan and Kavin Jay, a beloved Malaysian comedian and performer known for his razor-sharp wit and captivating stage presence.

Tickets start at RM100 and can be purchased here.

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