31.10.06

oh victor!

J and I finally heard Mr Yew Hong Chow play the harmonica live this at the DVD launch of Tan Pin Pin's Singapore Gaga this evening in Substation's Timbre cafe. A small man who with his hands over his mouth, the harmonica invisible from where we sat, made sounds I've previously thought came from other instruments. Yet he amazed us with his humility. When called on stage to be thanked, Mr Yew thanked the director instead - for raising interest in the harmonica. (Mr Yew's CD will be released next week.)

Despite there being a stage, mics, a host, a reception table and a gift for guests (an old skool condensed milk tin used for takeaway kopi), the event was great for feeling more like a family reunion party of sorts than a DVD launch.

At a large table before the stage were several "uncles" with their Tiger beers, and at a far corner 2 middle-aged ladies and their cautious Cokes. When one of the "uncles" who was featured in the video for their nationalistic songs went on stage, he decided impromptu that he would serenade the crowd with a verse from a 30s Chinese song. And - wait - is that man standing there who I think he is? Victor Khoo!

Ventriloquist Victor Khoo was one of the folks featured in Singapore Gaga. Well, he and his puppet Charlie. Every kid who grew up in the 80s knew Victor and Charlie. They had a one-hour show every Saturday morning. Kids would call in, banter with Charlie, answer a quiz question and win a prize. No villain-crunching mutant hero. No candy-coloured crime-fighting girls. No pocket monsters. Just the voices of Mr Victor Khoo and kids were captured. (Ah, I must confess I called into the show when I was already 10 or 11. How excited I was to be on air! And chatting with Charlie - oh, Victor!)

What remains for me to say now at 2am is this: Go buy The DVD, available now at Kinokuniya bookstore, Objectifs, and Earshot at the Arts House/Old Parliament.

P/S - You can read tym's review of it here, the director's thoughts here, and what us amps felt when we watched it last year.

7 comments:

avalon said...

If I'm not wrong, he wanted to spell Charlie as Charlee, something different. I used to love them as a kid in the 80s.

Anonymous said...

old school!! i remember listening to them on the way home from (forced) piano lessons. possibly the only thing that made up for being made to "waste" my saturday morning in such a way

ampulets said...

hey avalon, thanks, you are right, it's charlee. which is quite singaporean... char lee. haha.

everyone has these victor/charlee memories :>

l&g said...

i remember char lee n victor too, but not the call in for a quiz thing... so you called in.?

E. said...

Your tees are pretty creative. Ever thought of putting out some consignments at shops?

Anonymous said...

Ya actually it is such a great pity that Charlee is not recognised by the Singapore Government as an iconic character for so many, and how he played such a pivotal part in the growing up years for so many Singapore adults today. Oh well...like I always said, if Charlee was
an American puppet, he would be up there today like Mickey Mouse is

Anonymous said...

so true. charlee deserves long overdue recognition as a singaporean icon. kudos also to victor for making charlee so life-like and giving us so many happy memorable hours of laughter.

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