Fauzie Laily is no stranger to hosting events. But virtual events in the time of COVID-19? He’s still getting a hang of doing them. When a MC does a live show, they feed off the energy of the crowd. But what happens when there isn’t an actual audience?
“You can’t say ‘Let’s give the performers a round of applause!’ because there’s no live audience to clap for you!” Fauzie, 35, tells 8days.sg over the phone. Still, the show must go on.
Since the Circuit Breaker, he’s done three such virtual engagements, including the National Day Parade Evening Show alongside Rebecca Lim, Suthasini Rajenderan, Joakim Gomez and Hossan Leong.
This Sunday (Oct 4), Fauzie — together with Diana Ser — is emceeing another big event, The President’s Star Charity. “Practice makes perfect,” says Fauzie.
Virtual or not, it’s an honour to be part of the annual fundraiser. “This show always reminds us to count our blessings,” says Fauzie. “We tend to complain about the smallest, most ridiculous things, and when we meet these people with difficult challenges in their lives, only do we realise how lucky we are sometimes.”
If anything, “the show is more of a wake-up call and a reminder to all of us to be kind to one another,” he continues.
Here, Fauzie lets us in more about this year’s President Star Charity and his memories of working on Code of Law, the Channel 5 legal drama where he plays SSG (and later Inspector) Razali. But please don’t quiz him about the recent Season 5 finale which ended with a cliffhanger. “Was Razali shot? Did he die? Only God knows,” he says, with a laugh. Okay, let’s just focus on the PSC then. Now where shall we begin?
8 DAYS: You’re hosting this Sunday’s President’s Star Charity. Is there a particular performance that you’re most looking forward to catch?
FAUZIE LAILY: First things first, I’m more excited to do the hosting because this will be my first time doing it. I’ve participated in the PSC before the first time in 2006, I think. That was a long, long time ago. But this will be my first time hosting it, and it’s a huge honour.
There are two segments [I’m excited about]. The first one, ‘Cycling Without Age’, involves a two-hour trishaw ride. That’s interesting because it involves nine seniors from two homes, St Luke’s ElderCare and Sree Narayana Mission. They’ll be accompanied by some of our Team Singapore athletes like Shanti [Pereira] and footballer Jacob Mahler. Anything to do with sports, I’m game for it (laughs).
The other one is also quite interesting. And then, there’s this performer, Saifudeen, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and he conceptualised this art piece that is made up of small tiles. Then you have President Halimah and her husband, and MediaCorp celebrities — like my good friend Felicia Chin — getting involved in it.
[Compared to the past PSCs], I feel there will be a lot more hands-on for the president this year. For example, in the ‘Cycling Without Age’ segment, the president herself will be welcoming our guests, and she will also take part in the tile-painting segment.
Things are starting to get back to normal. What did you do during Circuit Breaker? As a freelancer, how badly affected were you by the CB?
I think I lost almost $20,000 worth of jobs; gigs that were either postponed or cancelled. That amount is not little for a freelancer. But as they say, as one door closes, another one opens. It’s a blessing in disguise for me. I got to spend more time at home with my wife, and we got to know more about each other, which is very important. When you’re busy, you tend to forget the simpler things in life. And thankfully, even though I was affected, [I have enough savings to tide us over]. Ever since I entered the industry, I made it a point to save up for rainy days. [With the COVID-19 pandemic] it’s isn’t just rain — it’s a storm! (laughs). It’s very important to have savings, lah. You never know. People always say, “Save for a rainy day,” and when it really happens, you go, “Ah, this is what it really means.”
Did you pick up new hobbies or domestic skills like cooking?
There were a few things. I go to the gym once or twice a week. When the lockdown happened, all the gyms were closed. So I panick. Alamak, how to exercise? So I went on Carousell and bought dumbbells, and now they’re in my room because the gyms are now open already (laughs). That was a panic-button moment. In terms of skills, no choice lah, have to cook at home. I really hate cooking, but because my wife was around, she encouraged me to at least learn something. At least now I know how to cook rice (laughs). Simple things.
Any signature dishes?
I wouldn’t call them “signature” lah. Until now, if you gave me a choice, I wouldn’t want to cook (laughs). Now I try to eat as much healthy food as possible, so at least now I know how to prep my own chicken breasts, if you can call that cooking (laughs). I can do my own chicken salads, and those kinds of things.
Shall we talk about Code of Law? It ended recently on a cliffhanger where your character, Razali, and SSG Isaac, played by Ian Fang, are involved in a gunfight. First things first, what was it like working with Ian? Did you know him from his Channel 8 shows?
To be honest, it was my first time working with him. Of course, I’ve seen him around — from reading news articles, and sometimes from TV. But I haven’t really watched the shows he’s in. But when I worked with him, he’s a very nice dude lah. What I like about him is that he’s laidback and chill. It’s very easy to work with someone like that. He jokes a lot too and can take jokes well, so that’s my kind of guy.
Any funny Ian Fan stories to share?
Ian speaks mostly Mandarin, so when he speaks English, it’s a bit funny lah. But once you get used to talking to him, he grows on you. It’s just his thing with how he speaks English. The funnier thing is when he tries to speak Malay to me. He told me that he [had] Malay and Indian friends when he was in school, so he knows all the Malay terms, mostly the bad words (laughs). He also tried to show off by singing popular Malay songs to me; he knows this song called ‘Belaian Jiwa’. Ask any Malay and they’d know this song. It’s a karaoke standard and people would always sing it at weddings.
We heard that story before. But did he try to sing it or did he actually sing it? And how was it?
He sang it! Of course, the words a bit salah lah. But I was already quite impressed that he knew the song. It might sound trivial, but I used to ask my other Chinese friends if they could name one Malay song besides the [National Anthem] ‘Majulah Singapura’ and sing it to me. Because if you ask a Malay person to sing a Chinese song, I think we would know [at least one]. I listen to Jay Chou, for example. Not a lot of Chinese people know Malay songs. So for Ian Fang to know, especially for someone who doesn’t really speak the language, I respect that. That means he made the effort of knowing.
That's very impressive.
You wouldn’t expect it from Ian Fang, you see. You see him as this chill dude who’s into rap, and suddenly he comes up to me saying, “Bro, I sing for you ‘Berlaian Jiwa’.”
After playing Razali for so many years, have you ever been mistaken for a policeman in real l life?
Not mistaken lah [because] I don’t dress like Razali outside of filming. But there was one moment I will never forget during the first few seasons when I was shooting with Sunny [Pang who played Inspector Han]. In the set-up for one of the shots, we had to take the lift from the ground floor to the highest floor, so that the cameramen could get a shot of us stepping out as the lift door opens. A random person who lived in that block came into the lift, and looked at us. Then at the back of the lift, Sunny was like, “Officer, have you prepared all the documents?” I said, “Yes, sir.” Then that person turned around with a look that says, “Oh my God, got police officer. Is there a case happening in this block…” I think he really believed it lah (laughs).
You guys are pranksters.
That’s the fun part of shooting! (laughs)
What else are you working on besides the President’s Star Charity?
I just completed a Viddsee project, a five-episode short series called This Place We Call Home. That’s coming out in December. I also just finished shooting the second season of Lesung, a Suria drama. I play a chef on the show, and it’ll come out in November.
Wait, you played a chef?
That’s the best thing about being an actor. You get to do things you don’t like (laughs). Second season, some more!
Catch the President’s Star Charity 2020 live on Channel 5, meWATCH and meWATCH YouTube on Oct 4, 7.30pm. It will be repeated on Channel 5 on Oct 10, 12.30pm. It will also be available on demand for free on meWATCH from Oct 4. Code of Law, Forensik and Lesung are streaming on meWATCH.