Judee Tan: Zen and Zany
Text: Joanna Goh
Photos: Louis Teo & Joanna Goh
Video: Teng Siew Eng
From her comical getups and cheeky impersonations on television and on stage, we were half-expecting plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and witty banter during our interview with Judee Tan. But minimal laughs were all we got in return. That, and a renewed impression of the funny lady who caught us off-guard with her candour and grounded personality.
Yes, beneath Judee's satirical jokes and zany persona lies a very principled and unassuming woman who lives by - what we would like to call - a "Zen-like" mantra (her mentality).
For one, she's so focused and aware of her surroundings that nothing fazes her - not fame (or the lack thereof), new challenges or obstacles in life. And then we remarked at how "Zen", or rather, blasé she is, Judee wondered a-loud, "Is that Zen? Or is that the Ah Lian-ness in me coming out? (Chuckles) I don't know," and then she goes on to talk about confronting obstacles in life...
Her journey to mainstream fame and salad days as a budding theatre artiste might explain for Judee's sensible self today. These personal experiences, which the funny girl aptly summarised as "all my misfortunes and mishaps", are the main influencers to the kind of work she does today.
Take for example her character 'Teochew Mui' in The Hossan Leong Show.
The cast of Glass Anatomy at the press conference for the upcoming musical production
"TCM is a very real part of me. A real part caricatured or dramatised for theatre. She really came out of my own desperation - so do you see how it all came about now?" said Judee at her interview in the Tower Club.
"It's important for me and it has to come from me so that I keep it real between myself and the audience."