Saiful Apek may handle his job with aplomb but making people laugh hasn’t always been easy for the king of comedy.
IT’S almost impossible to put on a straight face when you’re chatting with Malaysia’s comedy king.
Saiful Apek is funny without even trying. A natural comedian (with the face to boot!), Saiful is one talented actor who is warm and charming in person, never mind that he hides behind a pair of dark glasses most of the time. He can be serious too if need be.
But if you ask him, Saiful will tell you that he’s not a 24/7 comedian. As a married man and the doting father of two boys – Muhammad Riyadh Aslan, 12, and Muhammad Radzin Aiman, nine – Saiful is committed to his family as well as his work before and behind the camera, especially after the formation of his company, Gitu-Gitu Productions, in 2002.
A man who wears many hats, Saiful Apek is aguest deejay of Era fm.
In his 13 years in the business, the 38-year-old star has acted in more than 20 movies, among them Cinta Luar Biasa, Salah Bapak, Anak Mami Kembali, Gila-Gila Pengantin Popular, the Senario movies, Lang Buana, Bujang Senang and Nana Tanjung.
Even though most would associate him with the highly popular comedy group Senario (along with Lan Pet Pet, Azlee and Wahid), Saiful started getting involved in the entertainment scene some three years prior to joining the group in 1997.
Born Saiful Azam Mohamed Yusoff, the man who would go on to be popularly known as Saiful Apek was discovered in the first season of the talent search Sinaran Pasport Kegemilangan on TV3 in 1994.
Having secured his “passport to glory”, it has been an upward journey for Saiful as far as his career is concerned.
“I’m just continuing the job of comedians before me in making people laugh and having a good time,” says the funnyman who loves those black-and-white movies by Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Tan Sri P. Ramlee.
As a guest of Anita Sarawak on her talk showAnita in 2004 ... a rare sight, without his shades.
These legendary comedians inspired him in his work.
Funnily enough, Saiful attributes the honing of his comedy skills to his years of growing up as an adopted child.
“Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with my childhood,” says the Selangor-born Saiful. “As I was born a day before the infamous May 13 (1969), my biological parents were worried about my safety and decided to give me up to a childless couple.
“I was raised by the couple and did not know about my true status until I was 21, after my adopted mother’s death. I then searched for my real parents and reunited with my birth mother.
“Looking back, it was quite possibly my childhood and the rediscovering of my roots that somehow, in a strange way, helped in my ability to be funny and make people laugh,” Saiful states matter-of-factly.
With his sidekicks Kuman (left) and Yasin in season two of Gitu-Gitu Apek.
Ironically, the guy concedes that making people laugh hasn’t come easy for him.
“It was quite tough adapting to Senario’s routines when I first joined the group. During the first three months I received the most hate mail from fans who didn’t like me as part of Senario. Then one day while we were recording an episode of Senario the sitcom, three busloads (of fans) came to me and apologised for their hate mail,” he laughs.
Other “unforgettable” incidents for Saiful included the first time he went on stage. “The audience booed and threw bottles at me because nobody knew me then,” he recalls.
As he got better, he won over the audience. “Then there was the time when I was on stage and got the people in stitches without even saying a word. I guess in any profession you learn through time,” he adds philosophically.
In 2003, Saiful surprised everyone in the industry when he was named the most popular artiste in a local Malay daily’s annual readers’ poll. It was an unprecedented win for a comedy actor in the poll’s 13-years history which previously saw the accolade going to singers and non-comedy actors.
Saiful performing with Datuk Siti Nurhaliza on a Raya programme last year. The comedy star hopes to duet with the well-known singer next year. –Photo courtesy of Utusan Malaysia
Such honour undoubtedly sealed Saiful’s position as an entertainer.
But last year the actor was forced to slow down after he fell ill for several months. Doctors apparently failed to find the source of his ailment, which was widely reported in the Malay press.
“Alhamdulillah (Thank God), I’ve been okay after getting treatment in Indonesia last year and I now want to take things easy.”
As the spy, Ejen 016.
Still, it’s easier said than done. Saiful has been working on his sitcom Gitu-Gitu Apek on Astro Ria (Channel 104), which is currently into its second season. (Gitu-Gitu, by the way, is a Malay slang meaning “like that”.) In the show, Saiful teams up with his friends and comedians Yasin of Senario and Kuman to provide the laughs.
In the new season, Saiful is seen hamming it up in segments like Perah Otak, Atuk Otai/Apa Kes?, Pesanan Sifu Apek/Peringatan Supaya Awas (PSA) and Pim Mai Pim Mai.
The half-hour programme also features guest artistes like Yasmin Hani, Amy Mastura, Sarimah Ibrahim, Raja Azura, Dekna, Aizad and Imuda.
And since mid-July, the loquacious guy has joined Era fm as a guest deejay on the Gitu-Gitu Era segment, Mondays to Fridays at 6.45am-8.45am.
That’s not all. The guy has just completed filming the sophomore season of the drama series Ejen 016 produced by DiGi Telecommunications. Next month, the camera of Cicak-Man 2 will start rolling and the actor will reprise his double role as the hapless Hairi and the title character – a gecko-like superhero.
This sequel to last year’s comedy flick will again star Fasha Sandha, Aznil Nawawi and Adlin Aman Ramlie but features the additions of Sharifah Amani and Indonesian Tamara Blazensky.
Would he ever consider trying out for the role of a hero in a drama?
“As long as Rosyam Nor is not busy trying to do comedy then I’m quite happy remaining on my turf,” Saiful remarks in jest.
He is currently seen in the movie Otai, a comedy that revolves around the happily married Aiman (Saiful), who finds another wife after his wealthy father threatens to write him off his will unless he produces a grandchild. It also stars Yassin and Nasha Aziz.
Saiful will soon return as Cicak-Man in the sequel.
His two other movies, Nana Tanjung 2 and Duyung, will hit the screens next year.
Saiful also reveals that he aspires to record a song or two with Datuk Siti Nurhaliza for his debut solo album to be produced and released by his own Gitu-Gitu Productions.
“I know many think of me as a comedian but I would like to produce a serious album. Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing this not to compete with established singers out there. I’m doing it because I love singing.
“I’m very interested to collaborate with Siti. We’re still in the midst of discussion. I was supposed to do a duet with Ella for her latest album (Rama-Rama) but it fell through as I was in Indonesia for treatment. Hopefully, my collaboration with Siti will be a reality early next year,” he says.
‘Gitu-Gitu Apek’ airs at 9.30pm every Wednesday on Astro Ria (Channel 104) and repeats on Thursdays at 6pm, Fridays at 7pm, and Sundays at 1.30pm.
‘Otai’ is currently showing in cinemas nationwide.
With Piee in Nana Tanjung.
Cicak-Man 2 (2008)
Nana Tanjung 2 (2007)
Salah Bapak (2006)
Nana Tanjung (2006)
Bujang Senang (2006)
Man Laksa (2006)
Tak Ori, Tapi OK (2005)
Senario XX (2005)
Lady Boss (2005)
KL Menjerit 1 (2005)
GK3 the Movie (2005)
Gila-Gila Pengantin Popular (2005)
Anak Mami Kembali (2005)
Kuliah Cinta (2004)
Gila-Gila Pengantin Remaja (2004)
Cinta Luar Biasa (2004)
Bintang Hati (2004)
Biar Betul (2004)
Berlari Ke Langit (2004)
Laila Isabella (2003)
Jutawan Fakir (2003)
Gila Bola (2003)
KL Menjerit (2002)
Lagi Lagi Senario (2001)
Senario Lagi (2000)
Mimpi Moon (2000)
Senario the Movie (1999)
Puteri Impian 2 (1998)
Saiful Apek (centre) with Afdlin Shauki (left) and Wahid in Biar Betul.
Senario the series (1997-2002)