10 Minutes With… Priya Panwar

Lawyer by day, comic and singer by night, come and see Priya Panwar at ANZA’s Hilarity for Charity event.

Comic, singer and lawyer, Priya Panwar will be performing at ANZA Singapore's Hilarity for Charity
See comic & singer Priya Panwar at ANZA’s Hilarity for Charity event at the Hard Rock Cafe, Wednesday 18 April.

What’s the Day Job and why do you do it – bar paying the bills?
I’m an energy and infrastructure associate lawyer at a UK law firm based in Singapore. My days are usually filled with negotiating, drafting and sorting out disputes on big projects for airports, railways, toll roads and power plants including renewable energy such as solar and windfarms.

What do you love about your life away from the office?
My day job is serious, and consists of long hours, so I enjoy expressing myself creatively wherever possible, such as open mic comedy nights at Molly Malone’s or singing at open mic music at The Beast. I’ve performed locally at the Talk Cock comedy nights at Blu Jaz run by Comedy Club Asia as well as Comedy Masala which are Tuesday nights at Hero’s on Circular Road. I also performed at Kung Fu Komedy in Shanghai recently.

How did you get started? Do you have a ‘give it a go’ attitude?
I’m a ‘Jack of all trades; master of none’! I try to pack in as much life as I can so I pretty much say “yes” to most things. But I was the class clown in school, so standing up and making a fool of myself is nothing new. I’ve been composing songs and singing since I was little and, back in Queensland, I was in an a cappella group called Soulstice Brisbane which even competed nationally just like the movie, Pitch Perfect. My guitar skills are mostly self-taught, but I’m now getting lessons to improve my technique.

How do you juggle keeping on track with your career with your passions?
The key is to enjoy whatever it is you are doing at the time you are doing it, put your best foot forward and have confidence. I don’t think about work after hours and I don’t think about comedy or music when I’m at work. They do say that most litigation lawyers are frustrated actors, and since I no longer do advocacy, I was probably missing the adrenalin that comes with being somewhat witty in public places.

When someone asks “What do you do?” – do you say you’re a multi-hyphenate?
I try to be vague. If I say lawyer, it either kills the conversation or a comparison to the show Suits is drawn and I inevitably disappoint! I don’t say I’m a comedian either, because I only do it as a hobby and frankly, paying bills in Singapore wouldn’t be possible as a full-time stand-up, unless I wanted to live on chicken rice and Chinese tea. I think making it a job would also take away the fun. Plus I’m not sure MOM would be super keen on it either! Goodbye EP…

What would you advise people who feel they’re stuck in a rut?
This sounds trite, but you only have one life! What is the point of living with “what ifs?” Juggling multiple things does mean you have to be disciplined with your time and sacrifice something; for me, it’s sleep!

How does Singapore help in adding strings to your bow?
Being an expat in Singapore gives you fresh perspectives. I’m more aware that my Aussie slang and broader ‘occa’ accent was all but incomprehensible to my non-Aussie colleagues and friends. I was forced to adapt. Also accepting that not everyone else knows or cares about Brisbane was also a bitter pill to swallow. But again, I have adapted and moved on.

What can people expect at ANZA’s Hilarity for Charity?
Well I’ll be having a good time up there, that’s for sure! Come and join us on Wednesday 18 April at the Hard Rock Café on Orchard, raising funds for I2 Prephouse. Get your tickets here.

See comic & singer Priya Panwar at ANZA’s Hilarity for Charity event at the Hard Rock Cafe, Wednesday 18 April.