A night at the library that will leave you in stitches
If laughter is indeed the best medicine, we have just the right prescription for you. Comedy Night at The Library, organised by the National Library Board (NLB), presents a week-long comedy run by local authors and comedians, including Imran Hashim, Mel Lee, Sam See and Stephanie Chan, who goes by the moniker Stephanie Dogfoot. The Facebook Live event is held daily from 23 to 28 Nov, between 7pm to 8pm.
Ahead of the event, we get the four participating writers and comedians – Hashim, Lee, See and Chan to share their funny anecdotes on books and experiences at the library with us.
What comes to your mind when someone mentions the word “library”?
Hashim: I think of all the hours I spent there writing my novel Annabelle Thong (2016) while enjoying the free air-con and distraction-free working space. I spent so much time at the library working – and napping, don’t tell the librarians that – during that time in my life when I was desperately trying to finish my novel.
Lee: A home away from home, knowledge and voices, air-conditioning. Hidden messages waiting to be excavated from one title to the next. Money-savings. For one Christmas, I shamelessly got my family members carefully selected library books, knowing that if I bought them, they wouldn’t necessarily read the books, but with a six-week deadline, they would at least get through most of the book.
What is your most unforgettable memory of the library?
Chan: When I was 13, I desperately wanted to own a dog, but I was not allowed to, so I spent nearly every Saturday afternoon at the library, researching how to care for a dog. I immersed myself in a world of dog care guides and training manuals and learnt all the different methods and theories on raising a puppy. When I finally got a dog two years later, I knew what to expect and how to handle her.
See: It has to be running the Love Division panel series with NLB earlier this year, where folks from all walks of life came together to discuss their love lives and learn about the psychology of romanticism in sessions moderated by yours truly. It was fascinating to learn that 21-year-olds and 50-year-olds can face the same problems in dating.
Hashim: When I was in primary school, my cousins and I made a trip to the Marine Parade Public Library. I was so excited to be able to borrow books; I borrowed six. Then I accidentally left them behind at a bus stop on the way home to Bedok. I was so terrified about losing the books, I couldn’t sleep that night.
What was the last book you read?
Chan: Lion City (2018) by Ng Yi Sheng. It is a fantastical ride through Singapore myths, histories and possible futures.
Hashim: I finished Hunger (2017) by Roxanne Gay a couple of months ago and I would definitely recommend the book. It is a memoir of the author’s struggle with her weight and what caused her to put on the weight. It is a great reminder that people’s inner selves and their inner stories are so much more complicated than what we can see from the outside.
Lee: Thi Bui’s illustrated memoir The Best We Could Do (2017). It details the struggles of the author’s family as they transition from war-torn Vietnam to the United States, but it really is about how a woman reclaims personal narratives by asking loved ones difficult questions in order to make sense of the past, and to reconcile, forgive, and build upon shared purpose.
See: This year’s IKEA catalogue. They offer good discounts on bedside tables and I have been meaning to get one.
Replies were edited and condensed for clarity. Learn more about Comedy Night at The Library here.