50 and just getting started
Singapore actor and stand-up comedian Hossan Leong celebrates his 50th birthday with a new production, Hossan-ah 50! Love You Leong Time! (Photo: Claudio Chock)

50 and just getting started

Hossan Leong, the consummate performer, is 50 and just getting started – on the next chapter of his life as an actor-comedian.

To turn the page, he is bidding adieu to his solo stand-up comedian act with the three-week-long show, Hossan-ah 50! Love You Leong Time! at the Drama Centre Theatre. The performance will feature a live band, back-up singers and a segment where he plays eight different Disney princesses.

His decision to retire his stand-up comedian persona, Hossan-ah, stems in part from a near-death experience last year when he caught a bacterial infection, caused by contact with contaminated water and soil, while filming a TV series. The close brush with death led him to count his blessings and consider what matters to him at this stage in his life.

The tireless multi-hyphenate, who lives and breathes entertainment, plans to reinvent himself and give back to the arts community. He won’t stop performing on stage, or for the big and small screen, but he is especially keen to direct and teach.

He certainly has a wealth of experience to share from a 26-year acting career. He peppers the interview with advice for aspiring actors and stand-up comedians: don’t be choosy with jobs, “always try, and don’t say you are not good enough,” and “don’t take ‘No’ for an answer without understanding why not.”

Leong is no stranger to rejection and disappointments. His journey in acting and entertainment has not always been a bed of roses.

When he first started out acting in 1993, he drew no fixed income and sometimes earned only $120 a month. This worried his well-meaning parents, who told him to “get a real job,” he says. But giving up never crossed his mind.

He says: “I wanted to prove myself and be successful so that my family wouldn’t be ashamed of me. I also wanted to prove that actors are not bums.”

He embraced every opportunity that came knocking and kept honing his craft over the years. As a nod to his talent and contribution to the arts, especially his involvement in cultural ties between Singapore and France, he was conferred the distinction of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (The Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government in 2010. He lived in the South of France where he studied French in his 20s, and he has starred in French-themed productions, as well as taught acting at the French School of Singapore.

He says: “Receiving the cultural medallion is the greatest achievement and highlight of my career, and I made my parents so proud and happy.”

As he follows his heart and goes where his passion for acting and entertainment leads him next, he is sure of one thing – “I want to make people happy,” he says.

Tickets to Hossan-ah 50! Love You Leong Time! have sold out.

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