Horsing Around with Andrew Netto

Twenty-seven year old Andrew Netto says he knew from a young age that he was a funny guy, “I inherited my sense of humor from my father. My mother was more easy-going, whereas Dad was sharp and quick-witted but it was during school that my funny bone began to show and I was usually called the ‘Class Clown’.”

During an annual dinner put together by the prefects of La Salle, PJ, Andrew and his batch senior prefects upon realizing they had not prepared their performance item for the evening decided their best contingency plan was to send Andrew out on stage to perform his well-known imitations of their school teachers, who were also present.

Although his act left them in stitches, his teachers were not convinced he could make a living out of it, “They said I was a funny Indian boy but I could never succeed in anything because I played around too much,” said Andrew.

10 years after The Great Skepticism, Andrew is well-furnished to prove them all wrong - from a Malaysian Book of Records feat of being the 1st comedian to perform during a flight in 2010 to opening for his longtime idol, Russell Peters in 2012, he has a list of achievements that are usually conjured up during hot afternoon siestas of the optimistic; a dream at most. 

Breaking into the scene as Malaysia’s youngest stand-up comedian, Andrew Netto’s career is one that continues to take him places, winning over first-time audiences in Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, India and Australia; but it’s never too long before Malaysian winds lend a playful shove, bringing him back to give us locals an annual dose of his Malaysia-Truly-Asia blend of wit and humor.

His material includes a spectrum of topics that range from the joys of being raised by Indian parents to the mandatory jibe at local politics and goings on, all musings of the average Malaysian, which he divulges, secures him half the battle in winning the crowd over.

But it’s not all fun and laughter in the life of a stand-up comedian, who relies on corporate engagements to bring home the bacon. With the increasing popularity of live comic shows, large corporations are now moving away from the typical musician/band/dance routines at company events. Promising, though it may sound, he sometimes loses out to inexperienced performers who charge a lower fee.

“Never mind that I lose out on the gig but performers who have not had enough exposure and training to perform any longer than the 10-minutes they are used to, do not live up to the organizers expectations and in turn affects their viewpoint on stand-up comedy altogether,” shares Andrew, who now has license and power to discern and turn down job offers, if he feels the audience demographic will not complement his brand of humor.

He also finds he has to stress on the need for comedians to be able to gauge their audience well, highlighting that the first step in creating a good relationship with an audience is to practice empathy, “As comedians, we should always visualize how we would feel if we were the subject of the joke you want to use on them. If you don’t like it, they are definitely not going to like it, says Andrew, who is also a firm believer that vulgarity should be no substitute for humor.

Still, Andrew is not at all indifferent to the thriving local comedy scene. With the introduction of The Comedy Club Kuala Lumpur, which brings in 2 foreign comics a month and Stand Up Comedy nights like One Mic Stand; run by fellow comedians Rizal Van Geyzel and Kavin Jay, he is happy that they have taken the initiative to propel this once unknown industry forward.

A Communication graduate, Andrew had always envisioned himself working behind the scenes at TV or radio stations, a different deck of cards might’ve even seen him piloting commercial airliners but with an F&B venture and a 3-city Australian tour in the pipelines, he rests assured that he is where he is meant to be.

His massive portfolio and affable nature lends to his expanding profile and status as public figure, which is visible in the traffic he receives on both personal and public Facebook pages. While he tries not to tread on anyone’s toes when expressing personal opinions or taking the mickey out of others’, he stands firm by a valuable lesson he learnt at home, “My father always told me, the truth will set you free and that I should utilize my status as public figure to always speak the truth. That is why I try not to excessively filter my content on social media.”

For those who want to find out what all the fuss is about, Andrew returns for a 90-minute show titled “Horsing Around”, which will be held at PJ Live Arts on May 17. Tickets are priced at RM40 and are available at www.tix.my. 

This article was published on May 10, 2014 in The Malay Mail.