“I’m an asparagus rising!” is just one of many random phrases Faris Samri and Syakeel Kamaluddin shouted during the photo shoot. Well, mainly Syakeel, who also wants it to be clearly communicated that the pair are introverts by nature. It’s hard to see it when they have no qualms playing jester between takes; a consistent image with the content they’re known for.
These one-minute sketches of increasingly ridiculous dialogue between two caricatures are so silly they’ll ultimately earn a chuckle or two from you. The duo, who are influenced by the likes of Key and Peele and Dave Chapelle, are convinced the real reason behind the first video’s exponential success was that it was released during circuit breaker when everyone spent more time on their phones.
Jokingly claiming to have started this to “seek attention” and “get girls” (both of which seemingly worked), there’s nothing obnoxious about their spirit. Up close, the pair instantly strike you as plain jovial. Equally evident is the existing dynamic between the two; Faris’s relaxed riffs to Syakeel’s high-octane energy.
FARIS SAMRI: Syak is the more spontaneous one of us; I’m a more process-oriented guy. I do the post-editing; he does the rapid-fire subs.
You see an exaggerated render of this chemistry in their Christmas TikTok, which is his favourite thus far for the contrast of his SafeEntry ah beng against Syakeel’s Santa Claus. It’s in these far-removed roles that he personally feels his comedic partner shines the most.
FARIS: And I remember how we were rushing to post it in time for Christmas, so we didn’t have the time to overthink it. In these impromptu cases, the portrayal is less filtered and I think people enjoy that more. If we are being too careful, it shows.
@fromfarissyakSanta come SG also must use safe entry • Merry Christmas From Faris And Shark 🎄 ##fyp ##foryou ##tiktoksg♬ original sound – From Faris & Syak
SYAKEEL KAMALUDDIN: It’s the Madrasah [Islamic school] one for me. I love doing accents when playing a character. Honestly, it was a spur-of-the-moment thing. We didn’t discuss doing an Arabic accent beforehand, it wasn’t something we talked about. We just thought it’d be funny. People have always mimicked accents to parody, but it doesn’t mean we’re implying anything negative about that particular race. As long as you don’t come with the intention to attack anyone.
FARIS: But what if people accuse you of attacking?
SYAKEEL: I do respond to those messages with our rationale behind what we do, but if they don’t accept it, which surely happens with a few, you have to move on.
FARIS: We do try to keep an open mind because it’s good to educate ourselves, but at the same time we try to defend the decisions we made because they’re not without thought. We know that there is a line to toe. I’ve poked fun at my own race and enraged Malay viewers. In approaching any topic, we think about ‘what is the message we’re trying to send?’. And if it’s funny, is it funny enough to be worth the potential backlash? We have to choose our battles, especially in Singapore where we have to tread lightly, but I think finding that sweet spot is the best part of comedy.
SYAKEEL: And we vet the content with the relevant people. If it’s about Malays, we show the video to our Malay friends first. If it might be misinterpreted as encouraging sexual harassment, we check with our mothers and sisters.
FARIS: With sensitive issues, it’s about subtext. Most people get that I’m depicting the idiot whose behaviour should be frowned on, but sometimes Singaporeans take it literally. So we have to get approval from those we trust because criticism is bound to happen. I think the ratio between people supporting you and dissing you is about nine to one, and TikTok really shows that there is a community that appreciates you just for daring to put yourself out there. I feel that they understand how it feels to be anxious or receive malicious comments to not perpetuate it.
SYAKEEL: There’s a whole Gen Z population on that platform using short-form content for more than just skits. It’s a lifestyle now with all sorts of content for everyone, so it won’t go away anytime soon.
On the subject of local comedic content, however, the pair are divided.
FARIS: Local content is either someone good at impressions or jumping on a bandwagon where there’s a common enemy and we see who’s the most creative at making fun of the target. But yeah, I don’t find us funny.
SYAKEEL: I find us cringey but it works. There are all these cringey local TikToks with intentionally bad acting or editing and it’s entertaining to see what they’re gonna cover next. I enjoy seeing people just having fun on the app. I’ll keep doing this as long as I’m having fun. Or until someone tells me to wake up my idea. [laughs]
FARIS: There’s a difference between entertainment and comedy, but I can see myself doing this forever. I’m inspired when I see people create. As long as they create, so will I. I feel a lot of people are scared of being judged or looking like posers. They really think everyone will be out to destroy you once your face goes viral. They should be braver.
SYAKEEL: Just create, don’t be shy. No one will actually come up to you in real life. We do it because we just wanna make people laugh. In short, gojer [ just do it], don’t scared.
Find the duo’s skits on TikTok @fromfarissyak.