Malaysia is fast becoming a scary place. I predict that by 2020 our main exports will be rubber, tin and politically backed extremism . I know that realistically the idiots are not the majority, but a wise person once said,” Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has”. I think that was attributed to struggles of nobler causes, but that can also mean that like a novice plumber, a small group of assholes can really stir shit up.
However, while Malaysia has declined in almost all aspects from healthcare to religious freedom, one thing has improved by leaps and bounds and that is our little industry we call ‘stand-up comedy’. I am thankful for stand up comedy. It’s been 3 years now since I started and the more I do it, the more I fall in love with it. There is no better feeling in the world than making strangers laugh in a dark room.
The growth of stand-up comedy is a beacon of hope for Malaysia. Stand-up comedy is not for bigots, racists, sexists, or religious fanatics. Their undersized cerebral cortex will prohibit them from properly enjoying a comedy show. They won’t last 5 minutes. It’s like garlic to a vampire. Stand-up comedy is a mirror which reflects upon society’s absurdities. A guy who hates a particular race,sexual orientation,gender or religion will be forced to ask uncomfortable questions like, “ That guy onstage is a drag queen talking about sex, why is everyone laughing except me? Why is that guy from an immigrant race allowed to make fun of our exalted leaders?”
It follows logically that comedy audiences are typically more intelligent and sophisticated than your everyday Utusan reader. Thus the appetite for more comedy shows reflects that perhaps Malaysia has less stupid people than the powers that be wants us to believe.
Humour is the ultimate bridge over gaps and chasms between race, religion and culture. Nothing exemplifies that more than a comedy show where people laugh together at how Indians drink a lot, Chinese are money minded and Malays just don’t do overtime. Its a tacit acknowledgement of our quirks and nuances and a celebration of our differences.
So nowadays even when I’m not performing, my heart is gladdened by the sight of an audience enjoying a stand-up comedy show. At least there are still Malaysians who are open-minded, liberal and intelligent enough to accept the setups and punchlines of jokes, which at the end of the day, are just truths told in a funny way. Most beautiful of all is when you close your eyes and take in the sound of laughter. You won’t be able to discern an Indian giggling from a Malay chuckling, nor a Christian chortle from a Buddhist guffaw.
It all sounds the same