Singer Kamahl has opened up about how he felt during Hey Hey It’s Saturday’s racist segments – and suggested some of the show’s jokes should never be repeated.
The Malaysian-born Australian entertainer, now 86, who sold millions of records worldwide, said he felt ‘humiliated’ at times on the much-loved show.
When asked if he thought Hey Hey could come back, Kamahl carefully explained that he was in favor of ‘smart’ and ‘witty’ humor, but ‘if it’s c ** p, maybe we can do without’.
His comments come days after Daryl Somers, who returns to the small screen to host Dancing With The Stars All-Stars, sparked controversy when he said Hey Hey wouldn’t survive the current cancellation culture climate.
Kamahl, now 86, found fame in part for his Hey Hey It’s Saturday performances – but he also found the show ‘demeaning’ at times, saying that when it comes back, it should do so without the ‘bullshit’ jokes
“ You probably couldn’t get away with half of the things you could do on Hey Hey right now because of the political correctness and the cancellation culture, ” he told News Corp.
“It’s a shame, because showbiz doesn’t get much of a chance.”
Going back to the comments, Kamahl said he believed some people were missing the point when using the term “ cancel culture. ”
“ They are just trying to limit unnecessarily vulgar or crude terminology or jokes or whatever, ” he said The Guardian
The singer accepted that his profile had been helped by appearing on shows like Hey Hey, and admitted that he needed the fame to build his career and popularity – although he didn’t realize what a ‘minefield’ it would be.
“There were some instances where I felt humiliated, but I didn’t want to object or protest.”
He explained that he coped with it by smiling and “pretending everything was okay,” without wanting to ruin his own career.
A comment was also made about Kamahl having to smile so that ‘we can see him’ (photo) during the show
In one scene, Daryl Somers wore blackface while impersonating Malaysian-born singer Kamahl
A montage of some of the most controversial Hey Hey jokes featuring Kamahl was shared on social media this week, drawing comments mainly in support of the singer.
One sketch showed an assistant rushing to Kamahl and covering his face with white powder, before an off-screen voice shouted, “You’re a real white guy now, Kamahl, you know?”
The singer admitted that he found it ‘offensive’.
A particularly scandalous joke saw the lighting department ask Kamahl to smile so that ‘we can see him’.
Another extraordinary clip since the re-release shows a much younger Somers wearing a blackface pretending to be Kamahl.
Somers darkened his skin with makeup and wore a wig while performing on stage with the singer.
One particularly awkward scene involved a stage hand throwing white powder in Kamahl’s face before an off-screen voice shouted, ‘you’re a real white man now’
The show made regular use of cartoons and drawings, one of which depicted Kamahl with a bone through his nose
“Friends of mine in America have seen that and to this day they can’t believe anyone would treat an artist with such disdain,” he explained.
Other jokes depicted cartoon versions of him with a bone through his nose, and as a pair of bright white teeth against a black background.
In one scene, an off-screen voice was pondering whether his new album might turn ‘black’ instead of gold.
A clip showed Somers laughing at a third generation Sino-Australian audience member when he introduced her to the camera.
“I’m originally from Sydney,” the woman said.
“You were born and raised in Sydney?” In another episode, Somers (right) appeared to be fooling a third generation Sino-Australian audience member (center) when he introduced her to the camera
In one segment, Kamahl’s face was covered in white chalk dust as he sang – in one of many examples of controversial sketches
Somers is now set to host Seven’s reboot of Dancing with the Stars, after hosting the original seven seasons from 2004 to 2007. Shown with Sonia Kruger
Somers then asked, ‘You were born and raised in Sydney? I thought you were saying your background is abroad somewhere. So no one in the family speaks Chinese? ‘
Kamahl did not blame host Somers, suggesting that he did not blame him, saying he was a ‘bystander’ who did not ‘encourage or stop’ the jokes.
Somers told the Daily Telegraph he was not happy with the shift of public taste to more ‘politically correct’ jokes, but accepted that the world is changing.
“ A lot of comics can’t work much because what would have been just ironic before can easily get them into trouble, ” he said.
‘I can’t say I’m in love with it, but it’s a changing world we live in and you just have to work around things.’
Hey Hey It’s Saturday ran on The Nine Network for 28 years from 1971 to 1999, before returning for special episodes in 2009.
Another incident in 2009 involved a comedy troupe dressed as the Jackson Five in blackface for Hey Hey’s regular Red Faces segment (pictured)
In 2010, a new 20-episode season went into service, but the variety show did not return in 2011.
During its run, Hey Hey It’s Saturday had quite a bit of controversy.
Last year, TV veteran Somers was called up to perform Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World in blackface on the 1980s show.
Another incident in 2009 involved a comedy troupe dressed as the Jackson Five in blackface for Hey Hey’s regular Red Faces talent show segment.
American singer Harry Connick Jr. was a guest judge on the program and gave the performance a score of zero, saying he would never have appeared on the show had he known it was going to be blackface.
Somers apologized to Harry at the end of the live segment, saying, ‘We may have offended you with that act and I apologize deeply on behalf of all of us.
“Knowing that to your countrymen, it’s an insult to have such a blackface routine on the show, so I apologize.”
Footage has surfaced of Daryl Somers’ most shocking moments on the classic variety show Hey Hey It’s Saturday, which ran in its first run for 28 years