Hesmel Faznee bin Ahmad Faisal

Salamun Alaikum. Greetings to my fellow bloggers. I understand the pressure that you and I are facing; especially with the court indictment on two of our fellow bloggers, Mr. Rocky Bru and Mr. Jeff Ooi. Eventhough I always uphold the rights of the freedom of speech, I also believe there are limits to our freedom of speech. As long as it does not touch on issues pertaining to any religion, race and culture, you will be okay to express any grouses to the society. Be it, about your neighbour, your teacher or even up to the Prime Minister (Josẻ, sekarang ni kalau kutuk pun that old man bukan sedar dia dah tak dihormati!) you are welcome to express your unhappiness.

When I touched on the subject of culture, I couldn’t help but to notice some needs or requirement in our society to emulate the Westerners. You can see it through the clothing, fashion, the “wannabe” lifestyle of our fellow Malaysians in emulating the Westerners or to some extend, following the Westerner’s own recreational activities! This is where the interesting part comes in.

Welcome to our new and "the latest collection of stale standup comedian", Mr. Yus from Perlis to the world of Malaysian entertainment.

He was chosen as the first “Raja Lawak” (José it has nothing to do with Mr. Robert De Niro’s movie King of Comedy!) thru sms voting (apa lagi José) by the loyal viewers of the new tv programme Raja Lawak, produced by ASTRO. As usual, I do not have in opposition to the programme in fact, I believe it was one of the best (sms based voting programme) ever produced by our local TV station! Compared with the other sms based voting programme, Akademi Khayalan a.k.a Akademi Fantasia, this Raja Lawak had the “pak lawak” to create own scenarios and jokes!

With Raja Lawak, it gives the opportunity for our local “pak lawak” to perform and to compete with other fellow “pak lawak” from all over the country. In the programme, each contestant will be given a subject to joke on every week and they will be given a different concept or style to perform, for example either thru miming, perform a standup comedy, pairing with another fellow “pak lawak” or just crack a joke spontaneously (José, bukan senang do..!).

The most difficult part in cracking a joke is to make the audience laugh (José, tapi kena tengoklah kalau lawak bodoh atau lawak cerdik! Kalau lawak lucah, memang senang orang nak gelak!!).

For example, if you manage to make the audience laugh at the very first punch of your joke (bukan penumbuk! Tapi isi lawak!), I presume you are in the safe zone area! The main thing that is disturbing is the so-called “otai” in the programme. For those who are forever in the world of 70’s or do not even have the faintest idea what otai means, it is a combination of old-timer in short!

I do have a very high respect on Mr. Jalil Hamid, Mr. Sabri Yunus (mamat ni memang bagus ajar teori teater dalam kelas Raja Lawak), Mr. Badul and Dato’ Jamali Shadat, but my point is why the producers did not bother to invite other standup comedians who are knowledgeable of the “dunia lawak berdiri”? For a change, we have Jit Murad and Harith Iskandar, who has performed in many shows locally and internationally.

Maybe the producers of Raja Lawak felt both Jit and Harith’s jokes are not being acceptable enough in the world of our Malay cliché (José terimalah hakikat, Raja Lawak didominasi oleh lawak-lawak yang boleh difahami oleh kaum marhaen sahaja!) society. They have other option. They can always invite Mr. Yusof Chong (does anybody remember him or his antics? – ala yang suka ajuk cara Tok Mat, Samy Vellu and other politicians or members of the cabiner tu!) to become the “otai” for the programme.

I am not trying to say that all the three “otais” (José, that is for plural usage) are not good enough. However, I must say, of those 3 men, none has any experience whatsoever in doing a standup comedy. I am not in the position of condemning the “otais” for their contributions in the programme; it is just that they must also expose the contestants into becoming better standup comedians for other race and not strictly just for the Malay audience only.

There are other issues concern about performing a stand up comedy. The most important factor, being the sensitivity issues pertaining to a performance. A comedian must be extra careful when choosing a joke, if they want to perform their gig in Malaysian society. That is a reality where a comedian has to accept. They can’t touch issues relating to politics (José, jangan harap la kat Malaysia!), religion (memang tak boleh!) and race.

This self-censorship attitude has helped to demoralize our standup comedians!

Then again, I am not saying that all comedians are welcome to crack jokes on other race, religion or other sensitive issues; but to make a joke that is beyond those issue mention, but one must also be really well versed in the general knowledge and crack up “intelligent” jokes, so to speak.

A good comedian is what from my point of view, a person who is good in telling or sharing information with the society in many ways, either in sarcasm or in a funny way. That is why in the renaissance years, the king of a kingdom that rule will have their own jester (dia ni lebih kurang macam Pak Lawak la..) to bring joyfulness in the castle, but at the same time, this jester will provide informations to the ruler.

That is how important an actor (penulis anggap jester ni pun layak digelar sebagai pak lawak walaupun dia ni tak berapa penting dalam masyarakat ketika itu!) is for the society, from my personal point of view. Eventhough their appearance and their role in the society is seen as a comic relief in life; nevertheless, without them life will not be that cheerful and joyous enough for us.

It came across my mind about the Western standup comedians who has made through thick and skin of their entertainment industry. One of them was Jamie Foxx, who started his acting career as a standup comedian, but at the height of his career has managed to prove the audience; he can play a serious character.

It was when he took a serious role in Micheal Mann’s movie; Collateral that made him won an Oscar for the best Actor category. Then you have Robin Williams, another stand up comedian fellow who has manage to surprise the audience with a serious role in movies such as Jacob the Liar, Insomnia (pairing together with another Oscar winner, Al Pacino) and the like (kalau nak tau pasal movie ni, pergi cari DVD filem-filem ni. Beli je cetak rompak, si Aiman tak kisah!)

It is about time our local comedians, such as Saiful Apek with his archetypal character and stereotype jokes; begin to consider taking serious and more challenging roles, than playing a character like Cicak-Man for the second time. I wonder what would it be like if he takes the role of a serious dramatic character in a movie directed by Dato’ Rahim Razali or Yasmin Ahmad? A food for thought, don’t you think?

Kita Kan Tersesat, Pabila Malam Menjemput Bulan Semula Ke Sangkar Waktu – The Salam Connection
p.s -Takdak masa nak sambung Kembara bumi Tuhan..


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