Funnier politics

It’s not difficult to make politics funnier.

– John Cleese, British comedian

In an interview, this great comedian was asked how one would make politics funny. His answer is hilarious and one fraught with great insight and wisdom. It need not be serious and hazardous, or taken seriously because that’s the nature of things given the vagaries of human nature. And human nature can be hilarious.

One former prime minister is accredited with the machinations of certain political moves that created the ongoing political uneasiness and discomfort. He is obviously getting a huge laugh at the way people react. Maybe that his daily fix. Can’t really blame him. He found politics to be a playground for sadistic laughter. He knows that such laughter is the best medicine. Occupational hazard?

A very laughable moment came when a politician lamented that Singapore could have been more developed had a Malaysian political party ruled the island state. Many reacted angrily having failed to see the funny side of such cranky boasts that invited a series of roasts.

Lawyers and politicians are the butt of jokes like used-car salesmen. Nothing caustic about the thousands of jokes but altogether funny. John Cleese unleashed one about America wanting to issue a series of postage stamps bearing the images of famous lawyers. The government decided against it because people would not know which side of the stamp to spit!

Will Rogers fired a salvo when he declared that everything is changing because people are taking comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke. They asked for it not simply of the usual gaffes but the unusual display of mental gymnastics that make these politicians land on their heads.

President Clinton’s contribution: “Being a president is like running a cemetery. You have many people under you and nobody is listening.” George W Bush gets a medal for his rendition on decision-making. “When I take action, I’m not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It’s going to be decisive.”

President Ronald Reagan offered a lasting remedy when he quipped that politics is the second oldest profession which bears a very close resemblance to the first.

The saddest, yet funniest episode, to besmirch the American presidency is when President Jimmy Carter’s observation that when people wave at him they are actually using all their fingers! American peanuts never tasted better after Carter left the White House.

Malaysia has not been spared the bizarre sadism masquerading as wit of some politicians. When two LRT trains collided, the man at the helm called it a “train-kissing” incident. Another politician called him an “unmitigated disaster” and that he was only good at being a goon. Where is Carl Jung when we need him? Surely, human nature has limits, or did the cosmic creator indulge in celestial wit and humour?

There are probably hundreds of highly qualified and eminently eligible persons who shun politics as their natural leadership qualities will be skating on thin ice when they know they have to contribute to funnier politics. Pleasing the man or woman at the top usually takes centre stage. Malaysia did not have “bright ministers” because smart people tend to avoid politics, remarked a Malaysian politician in an apparent urge to speak the truth and state the obvious.

A former prime minister launched his book on wit and advised people with insomnia to read his book. Whether he meant his “wit” would put insomniacs to instant sleep because of its boring content, or whether he is a marketing expert is still being debated. Funny politics.

Netizens had a field day laughing at an elder politician who said the Chinese use of chopsticks can be viewed as an act of refusing to be assimilated into multicultural Malaysia. The laugh was on this politician when netizens invited him for a steamboat dinner where he could opt not to use chopsticks but his fingers. Curiously, he did not pick on people using forks, spoons and knives.

There is also a story in the 1980’s when a minister invited a lady politician to come on stage to ‘buka kain’ in order to unveil a painting or a statute!!

Laughter is the language of the soul, we are remined. As we witness political gaffes, we must rejuvenate ourselves. Laughter is also the cheapest and best form of therapy as it represents the shortest distance between two people. Laugh, and the world laughs with you even at the expense of funnier politics.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune. 

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