Opinion

Making wise men out of court jesters

Erna Mahyuni

Native Sabahan Erna is (not) Malay but loves Malay literature. Her hobbies: cats/gaming/blogging at ernamerin.com/Tweeting at @ernamh.

MARCH 21 — My current favourite Twitter hashtag is one started by radio staffer and Twitter personality, Zara Kahan: #LOLDewanRakyat. She uses it to tag her running satirical commentary on the daily goings-on in Parliament.

Though Zara’s Tweets are tongue-in-cheek, they call attention to the fact that most days proceedings in the Dewan are time wasters at best and farcical at worst.

Hello, Malaysians. These are the people you elected. Congratulations.

Zara complained once that there is too little serious discourse on topics, with far too much emphasis on either flaming rhetoric or humour. I disagree. I think there’s far too much “taking ourselves seriously” when it comes to politics.

The best kind of humour, I learned during my stint writing sketch comedy, is funny because it’s true. We laugh at jokes, despite gross exaggerations and the odd bit of vulgarity, because underneath the laugh-inducing veneer, we connect most with the truth they contain.

I think it makes sense to laugh at what goes on in Parliament; otherwise thinking about the collective competence of our elected representatives could drive us all to drink/depression/writing angry comments on The Malaysian Insider.

Stephen Colbert, for instance, mocks the American political landscape with impunity. And well he should. Americans, like a lot of Malaysians, tune out what they don’t want to hear — the serious, the boring, the tedious. Now coat facts with satire, tomfoolery and a dash of self-mockery and you get people tuning in to laugh and listen.

Comedians mock issues not because they don’t take them seriously. They take the issues seriously enough to package them in a way they’ll go down easier as compared to the “Barisan/Pakatan is evil!” rhetoric espoused by both sides of the political divide. Yelling up and down on your soapbox takes neither skill nor intelligence — which pretty much explains our current crop of politicians.

The way things are now, with global upheaval, economic uncertainties and the ever present threat of natural disasters, we need to laugh more than ever. Not to forget what’s wrong with the world but to remember... without it hurting our heads too much.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

 

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