If you think you’re the Malaysian, then you obviously have not seen or met this hilarious, and a true epitome of a Malaysian persona that comes in the form of a puppet named Harry Kok Siew Yok. Their first video uploaded last July 2017 and ever since then, it has garnered so much of views and attention from netizens. With 51 thousand likes on Facebook and 31.8 thousands of followers on Instagram. We spoke and talked to one of the creator and writer for Harry Kok Siew Yok, Ryan Matjeraie.You may also know him as the former announcer for Hitz.fm for seven years. Now, he focuses solely on creating and editing great content for Harry Kok Siew Yok.
Another content creator and the voice behind for Harry’s videos, wish to remain anonymous in this interview. We will name him “Harry” in the article.
Where did the inspiration for Harry Kok Siew Yok begin?
Well, Harry came up to me for help in creating content as both of us are obsessed with producing amazing content and video. What transpired Harry Kok Siew Yok was our love for 90’s humour that is easy to laugh at like, for example, Saturday Night Live, Ted the movie, Family Guy, Scrubs and Friends. In my opinion, the big one would have to be inspired by Austin Powers. If you look at the structure of this character, Austin Powers is Harry Kok and Doctor Evil is his arch nemesis, similar to Harry Kok’s enemy, Ho Lee Fak. So, we wanted to create a relatable video that would make everyone laugh.
Out of all the person or props to make a comedy, why did you specifically chose a puppet?
In my mind, both me and Harry have a tremendous amount of ideas for a content. There’s generally a lot of content on Youtube and social media platforms. Some are good and some are just bad. To stand out from the rest of the content especially in Malaysia, we thought of making the puppet the star of the show which symbolizes the metaphor of a Malaysian. If you look at me, I’m not the most Malaysian looking person as I come from a mixed Iban and Irish parentage, however, Harry the puppet is. The voice behind Harry the puppet has the mind for a great content, knows how to direct and write but is uncomfortable in front of the camera and can’t produce a content alone. That’s where I come in. The puppet was certainly our way of expressing our ideas.
In the video, Harry Kok Siew Yok is also famous for swearing the Mandarin/ Cantonese foul languages. As a content creator, were you hesitant to include it in the beginning?
Depends on how you look at it. From a content creator point of view, no. We wanted Harry Kok to be a real representation of a Malaysian. Let’s be real for a second, whether you like it or not, every Malaysian swear. That’s why when it comes to Harry the puppet, we are simply keeping it real and reasons why the tagline “I’m the Malaysian” came about as well. Of course, we didn’t want to include swearing words just for the sake of swearing. We want Harry the puppet to clearly be someone like how friends would talk in a mamak shop. Not many would agree to the foul languages used but I think more people are coming to terms of what Harry Kok Siew Yok represents and the humour that goes behind it.
What are some of the personality that Harry Kok Siew Yok posses that people love about him?
He is accident prone, unapologetic, and he also seeks for happiness, the pursuit for more money and also finding love. I’m sure every Malaysian are wanting to achieve the same pursuit and I feel probably that’s why people keep watching our content because it’s so relatable plus how hilarious he is through a puppet form. Sometimes, when we edit or producing the video, we forget that he is a puppet and think that he is real. That’s why I love the fact that people are emotionally invested in Harry the puppet and his personality. To me, that’s pretty much one of the most wonderful thing ever.
Was Harry personality similar to what your ideas were in the beginning?
Initially, we wanted him to be a Grabcar driver, and the biggest fan of Dato Lee Chong Wei. Now he has a different set of personality from what we brainstormed. He is from Batu Gajah, unemployed, 40 years old and lives with his mum. He is also a huge fan of Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, gets in trouble with the police and now he wants to be famous so he can be find more money and perhaps love. Currently, his mission is to be a football host, specifically taking over Adam C’s job.
Why the name Harry Kok Siew Yok?
A lot of people think that we’re trying to play the pun line when it comes to the name but to be honest, it was just a very catchy name. One of the biggest factor as to why the name came about is we wanted a talkability factor and word of mouth is probably the strongest tool there is around. Easiest way to spread the word out there is when people ask, for example, have you seen the puppet on Facebook and Instagram? When they tell you the name of the puppet, it already brings you a smile on your face and that’s our main aim. It’s also a very Malaysian name too.
What was the reason behind the puppet characters in the video of his arch nemesis,Ho Lee Fak and his mother, Rose Kong Kek Huat?
There was always going to be a mum character and her name was as such. However, for the Ho Lee Fak thing, it was just a random idea. We took a white hat from the office and just put it on Harry the puppet. After that, most of what we do is to record and review it back after. It was only during that time we thought of making this idea to live and creating a character. Ho Lee Fak was an accident but now he seems to be one of the favourite characters in the video.
In the character, Ho Lee Fak is a Singaporean and Harry will debate with him on Malaysian being the best. What’s that all about?
At the end of the day, we don’t hate Singaporeans but generally, Malaysians are very competitive when it comes to Singapore. We wanted to create that debate between these two puppets and also at the same time build the Singaporean market so they will watch it too. When it comes to the script, we rehearse it and test the content out on few friends, so we don’t think it would be offensive. Plus, its touching more of the humorous and comedy side instead of jumping straight to the political side.
How do you normally make the videos and the thought process behind it?
Most of the ideas come from Harry. He would text me an idea and we kind of brainstorm back and forth. I would also guess some of the ideas come from our funny circle of friends too that would help us. We make fun of Malaysia, Singapore and also ourselves. That’s what we want Harry Kok Siew Yok to embody by. He is sort of a satire look on the world where you take a pinch of salt and realize we’re just human beings and living in a small bubble. We work very hard to provide the best of the best content for people to view our video. Our main aim when it comes to creating content for Harry Kok Siew Yok is to make people laugh and not to take things too seriously in life.
Would we be seeing an appearance from Encik Casey Chan, the police officer?
He definitely will be back. He is a good friend of ours for many years now. When I thought of who would be perfect for the role of a policeman, I could not think of anyone but him. He has that stern face, the moustache and everything that speaks of a typical policeman. He doesn’t act or create content but it’s pretty exciting to see how much attention that he is getting nowadays.
In your opinion, do you think comedy/ video content in Malaysia has made its name for its own? Why?
In my perspective, I don’t think Malaysia is seen as a comedy central area. Over the years, in term of content comedy, it has improved a lot with JinnyBoy being one of the first to start a wave of comedy content in our homeland. The biggest influence for me and Harry has to be Luqman Podolski. He comes up with brilliant content and humour that everyone just laughs at. If you look at comedy in that aspect, definitely it’s improving. We have people like Luqman and hopefully Harry Kok Siew Yok, that would make a stamp in Southeast as a top comedy content provider. As for now, I and my team are just striving to be the best when it comes to making people laugh.
What do you as a creator want people to know about Harry Kok Siew Yok?
I just want him to be a representation of Malaysia and people can look up to him. Harry the puppet is prone to mistakes but he is learning and growing as time goes on. What would be incredible for us is for Harry Kok Siew Yok to be an ambassador for Malaysia. Right now, we are looking into hopefully interviewing with international celebrities. We recently did an interview with ex-Chelsea football player, Michael Essien. That was a fun video to do, so we pray we’ll be getting more interviews as such.
Harry Kok Siew Yok will delve into music soon which tentatively be released on Merdeka Day. There’s alot of a storyline and content which will be out soon. The thing that would keep you on the edge of your seats is mainly the connection and story from Harry Kok and Ho Lee Fak. Just stay tuned to that.
If you want to laugh and view Harry Kok Siew Yok in a video, do like, subscribe and follow their social media pages in the video below! Don’t say I never warn you ah!