The Unglam Past

Old school bus

Few weeks back,  N and I was watching Stephen Chow’s classic, “God of Food” (食神) on cable. We were looking forward, not to SC’s performance, but to Karen Mok’s rendition of a triad leader who had a scar across her face, topped off with buck teeth.

Now, for those of you who are not living in East Asia, here is what Karen Mok is usually seen on media:


Now we combine:

Near the end of the show, we saw the appearance of Sit Kah Yim as the judge of the final face off. She looked exactly as she does 20 years later, but N was amused, “You mean she also acted in comedies?” (Pardon him, he’s a true-blue millennial)

N also asked me why Karen would agree to make such a show.

I told him a simple fact that, at least in HK, many big stars started out in such slapstick comedies.

Many may remember that such HK comedies were common back in the 80s and 90s, and might be taking them for granted; aspiring starlets had no choice but to take on acting opportunities in those films for exposure. 

I beg to differ.

Comedies require actors to “let go”, which is an important requisite for good expressions of feelings and ideas. If one can achieve the comedic effect of pounding on beef patty with tongue out, swaying side to side, he or she can act in anything.


This is such a classic, I can’t resist posting another of such pic!

An actor who can only act demure or dap, but can’t take off his tie to dance will be restricted in terms of his progression.

Just think of Tony Leung and pre-Gen X will recall his “sausage lips” in 东邪西毒. Mandy Cheung had her start as the bimbo “vase” alongside Andy Lau and Jacky Cheung.

For every expert you see, there was an unglam start to their journey.


Nobody knows how to stir up a mouthwatering dish without having gone through the difficulties of cutting fingers or clearing rubbish.

Neither does an accomplished artist produce a masterpiece without having gone through the practice of imitating other people’s art.

The unglam start, though many would not want to talk much about it, was not a part of tekan or punishment by the seniors, but a necessary process to hone one’s skills. They are the foundation to a skyscraper.

If anything, the accomplished HK artistes’ experience serve to remind us that the current, bumpy start we face early in our careers or any ventures we set out to do is just a phase of mastering essential skills to be an expert in the field.

An architect has to learn how to manage his customer’s demands by re-presenting his ideas via a different style or medium. A trainer has to be familiar with his training aids so as to tweak them on-the-go to suit his learners or sponsors.

For those who are eager to show that they are a superstar, have they clocked their hours as a comedian?


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