Ex-MTV VJ Alan Wong On Hosting Asia's Got Talent

He's also in HBO's new comedy series Sent.

Easily excited and always restless, Alan Wong, 32, seems like a perfect fit for being an energetic host for the second season of Asia's Got Talent. But to star in an office comedy? Sure, why not? Especially if his role is not exactly desk-bound. 

8 DAYS: You were once an MTV VJ, so how does it feel to host something as big as Asia’s Got Talent?
ALAN WONG: It’s an amazing feeling. I feel this is the pinnacle of TV hosting. When I started out, I had no idea that I would get to do one of the largest shows in the entire world.

How did you score the gig?
I left MTV at the end of 2016, and I didn’t know Asia’s Got Talent were looking for hosts for Season 2 at that time, so I was pretty much unemployed for a long period of time. [Co-host] Justin Bratton and I actually auditioned for the first season but our good friends, Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez, got the job instead. For this season, we received an e-mail asking us to audition again. Justin's a great friend, and we talked a lot about how hosting this show would be a dream come true. It is now.

Did you ask Marc and Rovilson for pointers?
We’re lucky that they are our good friends. So we got the chance to talk, maybe not so much for pointers, but about their experiences. What we learnt is that [the show] is crazy! They definitely helped us prepare for the fact that once you start filming the show, it’s full on. It’s all day, every day. People are filming during lunch and dinner breaks. They told us it'll be pretty intense, and it is.

What does your preparation entail?
It’s equal parts preparation and being relaxed. When I explain TV hosting to people, I always say that you have to walk the fine line between the two. Because you have to know what you are going to say and be ready to say it. But if you always say the right thing, it’ll come across as a little fake or manufactured.

How would you describe your co-host Justin Bratton?

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Justin Bratton | Photo: Chee Yan

His hosting persona is very carefree and light, involving a lot of improvisation and witty banter. What you won’t realise is how hard he works, and knowing that my partner is putting in as much work as I am doesn't make me feel foolish for being diligent. Also, Justin is very well-composed whereas I get very excited easily. I get distracted and run around often, and Justin would sometimes go, "Hey Alan, we’re working!" So that’s kind of our dynamic at the moment. Also, I have to say that what makes the job easy is that he and I have known each other for years. We are so comfortable with each other that we can joke around with each other without fearing the other will get offended.

If you were a contestant on the show, what would you do?
I’m not talented enough in anything to be on the show (laughs). Justin and I once thought, “What would we ever do up there?” Eventually we decided on a variety-style act, which means we'd do some singing, comedy, dancing, and magic.

Do you have any experience doing stand-up comedy?
Justin’s done stand-up in Bangkok. He and I hosted a stand-up show here once where we did a five-minute set. It was really intimidating to look at a sea of people and expect them to laugh. I have nothing but respect for stand-up comedians. I don't think I can do a classic stand-up comedy act, so I’ll probably do something more self-deprecating, and maybe throw in some slapstick.

You’re also on HBO’s Sent. You play the buddy of an office drone, portrayed by Haresh Tilani, who got fired after he sent out a bunch of NSFW e-mails by mistake. What e-mail habits irk you most?

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Bad comany: Alan Wong and Haresh Tilani in Sent 

I can’t stand people who write their e-mails in all caps, and those who carry on a private exchange on an e-mail thread with tons of other people on it. I’ve learnt to always put something in the subject line, so people know what the e-mail is about [and don’t go off-topic].

What’s the most scathing e-mail you’ve sent and received?
While I won’t go into detail, I have been known to angrily respond to some of those chain e-mails that propagate hate and prejudice. I know we should ignore them and be bigger than the trolls, but I get sucked into them from time to time.

Can you imagine yourself as an office worker?
Oh man, I don't know. When I was at MTV, I actually had a desk in the office but I didn't go in very often. I’d be so restless at the desk that I’d get up and talk to the people around me. I became a little bit of a distraction for the others (chuckles).

Main Photo: Aik Chen

Asia’s Got Talent premieres this Thursday on AXN (Singtel TV Ch 304 & StarHub Ch 511), 8.30pm. Sent is on HBO on Demand (StarHub Ch 602) and HBO on StarHub Go.

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