Words by V. Sivaji
Godfather of Emcees
Charting a quarter century of a professional career in the entertainment industry is no easy feat for Gilbert Khoo, touted the “godfather” of emceeing and entertainment.
He recently celebrated his 25th anniversary joined by some 200 friends, ex-staff members and supporters at The Shed Aussie Restaurant in Straits Quay Mall.
“Time has just flown by. Looking back at the past experiences and tribulations, it is hard to believe that we have reached the 25th year mark.
“This milestone surely deserves a grand celebration and we invited our associates, friends and supporters to have a great time together,” said Gilbert.
Over the years Gilbert has honed his skills in stage presence, showmanship, entertainment value to come up with new gimmicks to meet new expectations from clients.
More than just an emcee, Gilbert also sings in Bahasa Malaysia, English or Latin numbers to entertain guests.
His vision is to be able to educate and share his experience with new comers who are keen to upgrade their knowledge and skills.
“The new generation thinking of taking courses in event management may have wrong perception in the industry. It is not just about managing events, one has to read more, be observant, creative (thinking outside of the box), acquire skills to foresee and anticipate problems that may arise during the course of the event.
“People may think that being an emcee is a easy but you can try standing on stage in front of hundreds or thousands of people who are awaiting every single word you utter.
“One mistake and there goes the whole show, and for that matter the whole night for the client. In the past 25 years, I have hosted more than a thousand events, from small scale to big ones in front of more than 1,000,000 live audience.
“Being an emcee and to remain relevant in the industry, I have to keep abreast of current happenings be it about business, local and world happenings and constantly listening to radio when there is a chance to learn from radio deejays.
“My career all started with listening to the radio during my younger days because singing was my hobby and radio provided the platform for learning songs I liked to sing.
“We did not have a television set at home, so radio was the source of entertainment for during my school days in the 70’s. I was amazed by the very famous radio deejay like Patrick Teoh then.
“He has a very strong and commanding vocal and most of all his strong English. I even harboured the dream of becoming a radio deejay.”
Gilbert started as a teacher after school and his passion in singing got him a part time job as a deejay with Radio Malaysia Kuala Terengganu.
“I was with Radio Malaysia Blue Network until 1988 and a year later moved to Penang after I got a job there. Penang was booming and there were many companies and factories doing their annual dinners and government events. I was a part time emcee for some events with a small fee of RM70.
“I picked up useful tips and experience in event management. In 1992 I ventured out on my own and started Gee Kay Entertainment. It is known as GK Concept Event Solution Sdn Bhd now,”
Go-Getter Laureen Quah
Former Miss Hard Rock Penang Laureen Quah is an enviable lass who owes her success to the poise and graceful movement that she acquired from her background as a ballet dancer.
“You have got to be prepared in a lot of aspects to make sure that you are sending the best possible version of yourself. They (the judges) are looking for talent, personality and charisma which I take great pride in.
I guess knowing that those are my strengths makes me want to compete even more. I have always been the kind of girl who loves a challenge and taking part in a pageant is definitely my call.
“The Miss Hard Rock Penang and Miss Hard Rock South East Asia pageants are different from other pageants because they do not entirely focus on aesthetics,” she said.
Quah counts on her credentials as a model and emcee for major corporate and private events.
“Realistically speaking, winning a pageant can only help you so much for so long. Career wise, It leads up to more opportunities as a freelance emcee and model but it has been several years since I won the titles so I think it’s only fair to say that my successes in recent years have been the product of my own hard work, perseverance and dedication,” she said.
Quah said she was rather a late starter in ballet but nevertheless as a go-getter that she is, there was no turning back once she had made up her mind.
“I got started in ballet definitely not ideally as a child. I used to think it was way too girly for my liking but when I was 19-years old, I decided to give it a go and right now I cannot imagine my life without it.
“It’s absolutely liberating and in a way it gives you this sense of confidence and self pride because it’s all about ‘you’.
“You literally are your greatest challenge and once you get past that you’re rewarded with a sense of accomplishment. It’s hard to describe but you know it’s there,” she said.
Quah said she started to dabble in emceeing at the age of 18 while in college and after multiple events, she ventured into corporate dinners, private functions and shows specialising in beauty pageants ans well as fashion themed events.
“Fashion is a very big part of my personality and it’s only natural that I’m drawn to events that embody that. Of course, at times, I emcee annual dinners, conferences, launches and marathons,” said Laureen with a smile.