Nabil Ahmad, Mr. Funnyman
It all started with a prank back in 2008 when Nabil Ahmad’s friends had secretly signed him up for an audition for a reality TV show that searches for comedic talent called Raja Lawak (King of Comedy).
Nabil who worked as a dispatch rider at the time led a pretty simple life in a small town called Mambau in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. With no access to satellite television, he had little to no clue what Raja Lawak was all about. But he took the plunge and went for it anyway. That plunge turned out to be his first step towards a whole new chapter in his life.
Throughout the weeks of competing in the show against other aspiring comedians, Nabil gradually rose to popularity and through his wit and charm, he paved his path to success and walked away as the champion. He bid goodbye to his life as a dispatch rider earning a mere RM600 (about $143) a month and embraced his new life as a celebrity.
He was (and still is) the ultimate funnyman with a great personality. He’s likable among people of all ages be it, kids or adults. Going from strength to strength in the Malay comedy scene, Nabil landed job opportunities one after another which allowed him to hone his skills as a comedian before venturing into radio, acting and hosting.
Over the years the father-of-three has helmed numerous popular local variety and awards show one which includes HBO Sentral, a show that serves as a fun and interactive guide to Hollywood blockbusters and award-winning HBO Originals.
From his stint with HBO Sentral, he was entrusted to attend the Oscars for HBO in 2017 to interview Hollywood stars at the 29th Academy Awards’ red-carpet event in Los Angeles, United States. This marked one of the pinnacle ‘pinch-me-is-this-for-real’ moments of his career as he described the stint as his ‘ultimate dream’ in a previous interview.
On the red carpet, he interviewed stars like Jackie Chan and Salma Hayek. Upon his return home from Hollywood, he shared that his encounter with Chan stroked a conversation about making it big in Hollywood.
Safe to say, Malaysia was proud to have someone represent the country on the prestigious red carpet, and Nabil was equally proud to be representing his country in Hollywood. Many were inspired by the story of this small-town boy who went from working as a dispatch rider to rubbing shoulders with Hollywood A-listers at the 89th Academy Awards. Life is truly full of surprises.
But anticipating the big day came with a lot of preparation. About a month leading up to the Oscars, Nabil took English classes to improve his command of the language. That shows just one of the admirable traits of Nabil – that he is determined to give 110% in everything he does.
And the hard work definitely paid off. In October 2018, Nabil was awarded the Best Entertainment Presenter/Host at the Asian Academy Creative Awards (AAA) that was held in Cannes, France.
Nabil has now entered his 11th year in the entertainment industry. What kicked off as a successful career in comedy blossomed to hosting, acting to owning his own production house. Still, fans can regularly catch him grace the small screen weekly, as he co-hosts a popular Malay talk show called MeleTOP alongside another well-known Malaysian celebrity Noor Neelofa, which soon enters its seventh year.
While that airs weekly on Tuesday nights, he also appears as a co-host for another popular TV competition called Gegar Vaganza which airs every Sunday night. In addition to that, he juggles other projects that require his talent or expertise in between.
But busy is good. Eleven years in the industry, he remains relevant. Growing up in the industry, he saw how it has evolved.
“Back then, the benchmark for a host would be to become a TV host for popular TV programs, but now everyone has their own channels thanks to digital platforms like YouTube so the competition is slightly different.
“People are now in charge of their own content but what makes it interesting is that everything is so transparent. When you post videos on YouTube, people can immediately see how many times it has been viewed. Numbers don’t lie. It’s a whole different ball game,” he said.
Despite the challenges, Nabil embraces the ever-evolving industry. Joining the bandwagon, Nabil too has launched his own YouTube channel called Lupk TV which currently shares a series of videos showing snippets of Nabil’s candid moments and activities.
Fans would have noticed that the first half of his career was focused more on doing comedy while the second half saw him transition towards hosting.
“I think people don’t understand the struggle with being invited to an event as a comedian. You’re expected to go up on stage and make people laugh immediately. It’s easier said than done and there’s just too much pressure involved.
“I decided to transition towards hosting because with hosting I am much more relaxed, and everything feels less pressured.
“Hosting takes off the pressure of having to make people laugh. But it allows me to still show my funny side by inserting jokes here and there.”
No success comes without hurdles. The start of 2019 wasn’t exactly as plane sailing as he had hoped it would be.
Projects lined up for the first quarter of the year which had already been secured by Nabil and his manager last year, unfortunately, had to be called off due to several issues related to the change of Malaysia’s government.
“It was unfortunate, but I couldn’t put the blame on anyone, these things happen. For four months, I didn’t have much to do besides attending to my job as a TV host for MeleTOP and a radio announcer.
“It was a rocky start to the year, but it taught me a lot about having to prep for rainy days. Things don’t always go your way. You can plan all you want but at the end of the day Allah is the best of planners,” he said.
After going through that rocky phase, he decided to start a business called LuP’K.
Now in addition to being a comedian, TV host, actor, producer, radio announcer, Nabil is also an entrepreneur. Five years down the road, who knows what else Nabil want to achieve or will achieve. But one thing’s for sure, we know he’ll have that huge smile plastered on his face come what may.
Behind the Face of Salam
- Face of Salam : Nabil Ahmad
- Project Manager & Co-ordinator : Shah Shamshiri
- Text: Syahirah Mokhtazar
- Editor : Ili Farhana
Photographer: Bustamam Mokhtar, White Studio
- Graphic Designer: Asyraf Tamam
- Art Director : Faizal Harun Nasution
Stylist: Faizal Harun Nasution
- Make-up Artiste : Jibs Salim
- Wardrobe: Maswira Majid
- Overcoat & headgear: Stylist’s own