Happiness in a nutshell according to Jack Neo, Mark Lee

The cast of upcoming Channel 8 variety programme Happy Can Already! 2 tell us about their simple and not-so-simple joys in life

Happiness in a nutshell according to Jack Neo, Mark Lee
Happiness in a nutshell according to Jack Neo, Mark Lee
18 May 2017

Happiness in a nutshell according to Jack Neo, Mark Lee

What makes you happy? This simple, yet tricky question has been asked for years, and yet the answer differs with every person you ask. For showbiz veterans Jack Neo, Mark Lee, Marcus Chin and Henry Thia, their ideas of happiness varied greatly from person to person, and we’re sure that their answers are likely to change somewhere down the road.

Attending the media launch of upcoming Channel 8 dialect variety programme Happy Can Already! 2, the cast, which also includes Henry Thia, Benjamin Tan, Jaspers Lai, Wang Lei and Toh Xinhui, spoke in a mixture of dialects and Mandarin during the event, which was held at Toa Payoh HDB Hub on May 15.

With the previous season doing exceptionally well in terms of ratings, the second season will be upsized in more than one way - Henry and Jaspers are among the new additions, and will be taking on the father-son roles of Lion King and Merlion respectively.

L-R: Wang Lei, Henry Thia, Jaspers Lai, Jack Neo, Benjamin Tan, Toh Xinhui, Marcus Chin, Mark Lee
L-R: Wang Lei, Henry Thia, Jaspers Lai, Jack Neo, Benjamin Tan, Toh Xinhui, Marcus Chin, Mark Lee
18 May 2017

L-R: Wang Lei, Henry Thia, Jaspers Lai, Jack Neo, Benjamin Tan, Toh Xinhui, Marcus Chin, Mark Lee

The show will have double its run-time per week - what were formerly 30 minute episodes are now double the length, and will run for a good hour every Friday. Familiar faces such as Patricia Mok will also be making their appearances on the show, which will bring viewers on a blast to the past as the Comedy Nite cast members reunite.

Given the show’s title, we couldn’t help but to ask the cast about their ideas of happiness - find out what Jack, Mark, Marcus and Henry had to say about, amongst others, their happiest moments in their lives. Their answers will surprise you, so read on for more.

Mark Lee
Mark Lee
18 May 2017

Mark Lee

As an artiste, what makes you happy?

I’m happy when I’m able to give my 200 percent to my job. We have to deal with countless issues on a day-to-day basis - let’s say your children fall sick, you have a disagreement with your wife and so on. If I only have a hundred percent to dedicate to my job, I won’t be able to do anything well.

From what I heard, the ones who are editing Happy Can Already! 2 have been laughing while going through our clips. They’ve watched countless comedic programmes so if they can be amused by what we’ve filmed, I think it’s a pretty good indication that we’ve done a good job.

As a father, what makes you happy?

To be honest, I’m really happy when my kids don’t bother me - and the only time that happens is when they’re asleep. When they’re asleep, they’re the most beautiful. It’s hard to describe them when they’re asleep; I know some people say that they’re angels when they’re in dreamland but apart from that, the feeling you get when you see them sleeping peacefully is indescribable.

If they’re able to sleep well, that means that they’re in the pink of health. If they have a runny nose, sore throat, are running fevers or are coughing, they’ll never be able to sleep peacefully. That’s why I say that them being able to fall into a deep sleep makes me the happiest.

When they come to look for me while they’re awake, it’s also something that makes me happy. It means that they enjoy being with you and like you. If they’re more clingy towards their mom, I’d wonder why they don’t want to be with me. Thankfully, all three of my kids are pretty clingy towards me.

As a boss, what makes you happy?

Naturally, you’re the happiest when you make money, but to me, having my staff work with me in the best environment is more important than earning money. That’s why my office is more like a home than an office - there’s a living room, dining room, sofa and more. (Ed's note: We can attest to that as we visited his brand new office for King Kong Media Production earlier this year)

While we have a proper office upstairs for more serious things such as accounting matters, everything else, from the creative process to photography studios are downstairs in a homely environment. I strongly believe that you can only be efficient at work if you’re in a good mood.

What was the happiest moment in your life?

It was 29 years ago. The first time I went on Comedy Nite, it was because Jack (Neo) couldn’t find anyone to go on the programme. I look pretty thuggish and my complexion isn’t the best, so he approached me because he had no choice.

That wasn’t when I was the happiest - I was happy, but what made me the happiest was when the Comedy Nite staff called me the following week and said, “Hi, is this Mark Lee? Can you come down for filming at 9pm next week?”

I was the happiest at that moment in time, because firstly, I wouldn’t have been given a second chance if I didn’t do well the first time around. Secondly, given my looks, the fact that someone was willing to approach me again - well, maybe my fees were cheap, I don’t know lah - made it the happiest moment in my life.

Marcus Chin
Marcus Chin
18 May 2017

Marcus Chin

As a father, what makes you happy?

I don’t see my daughter often - when we meet and she runs up to me for a hug, that’s when I’m happiest. (Ed’s note: Marcus’s 7-year-old daughter, Elise, is based in Malaysia with her mother.) I see her maybe once every fortnight, or sometimes once a month.

She’s living in Johor Bahru and I can’t go there everyday. When I want to go in during the weekends, I feel giddy just thinking about the traffic jams so there’s a lot of considerations when it comes to going to see her.

As an actor, what makes you happy?

When the bank sends me an email, I’ll quickly open it to check how much they gave me. (laughs) When I act or host well, that also makes me really happy. In Happy Can Already! 2, there’s no script for our interviews and you think of it on-the-spot, so it’s a real test of your skills. When I’m able to do well, that makes me really happy.

As a boss, what makes you happy?

A lot of people don’t know about this because I’ve been pretty low-key about this, but I became a boss of a soup stall, Yum Tong Mei (loosely translated to ‘have you had soup?’) three months ago. I teamed up with one of my disciples, Zhang Xiong, to rent a unit at Albert Centre Market & Food Centre.

We put in about S$20,000 per person, and it just so happened that there was a unit available. There’s always a lot of human traffic, so it’s alright that the rental is a bit on the steep side. We’re the only soup stall there, and we have a head chef there to look after the brewing process.

Business is pretty good, and what makes me happy is when I hear people say “It tastes good” after drinking our soup. We specialise in herbal soups, and we’re pretty generous when it comes to adding the ingredients to the soup, so that’s how we set ourselves apart from others who are less generous in this aspect.

Jack Neo
Jack Neo
18 May 2017

Jack Neo

As a husband, what makes you happy?

This is something I’ve learned - as long as you make women happy, the entire world will be happy too. If you don’t make your wife happy, she’ll be (nagging at you) nonstop and you’ll feel annoyed. This must be women’s ultimate tactic to get what they want - going on and on about the same thing. One of the most effective ways to make your wife happy is to spend time with her - but if you ask anyone, who actually has time for that these days?

As an artiste, what makes you happy?

When it comes to working on projects, having good viewership ratings makes me happy!

What was the happiest moment in your life?

I think that any moment where the entire family can be together is the happiest moment for me. Having a gathering and having a good meal - it doesn’t need to be expensive food - is one of the happiest things for me

(Ed's note: Jack, who is currently still working on Ah Boys To Men 4, chuckled that he’s currently still on the lookout for “good-looking men” to join the cast - so do remember to offer yourselves as tribute if you fit the bill.)

Henry Thia
Henry Thia
18 May 2017

Henry Thia

As an artiste, what makes you happy?

When I entered the studio for the first time (to film Happy Can Already! 2) I was so happy I felt I was about to cry. It felt like I was coming home after a long time.

I used to work in a factory and our salaries weren’t very high. We earned extra money from working extra shifts. I saw an ad in the newspaper that said that they needed calefares, so I did that for over 20 years and slowly made my way into showbiz that way.  Even when I was on Comedy Nite, I was still working in the factory until the day it closed its doors.

Being on Comedy Nite was the happiest period of time for me as an artiste.

As a grandfather, what makes you happy?

Whenever I come out to work, I think of my five grandchildren. When I have time, I’ll go see them at their schools and that makes me happy. In a few months, I’ll be welcoming my sixth grandchild.

What was the happiest moment in your life?

When I see a family eating together outside, I feel really happy. It’s a heartwarming sight and I really like it when every single member of my family is present at the dinner table to have a meal together. When my parents were still around, I’d always bring them out for meals - that’s the kind of family I want: a happy one.

Everyone else says that you’re the happy pill of the cast. Who is your happy pill?

When I’m on the streets, everyone around me is happy. When I walk into a coffee shop, people will say hi and that makes me happy too.

Among the cast members, I’d say that Mark is the happy pill. Whenever he sees me wear this wig, he’ll burst out in laughter. He says that I’m the only person who can make him laugh. (Mark also concurred with this statement.)

WATCH: Who is the happy pill of the Happy Can Already! 2 cast?

Happy Can Already! 2 premieres May 19, 2017, 11.30am on Channel 8.

Watch past episodes of Happy Can Already! on Toggle.

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