MALAYSIAN stand-up comedy is peculiar. I had a rip-roaring time watching Lawak Ke Der 2?, which is the feature film of the stage event held at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur, in October last year.
The film is much shorter than the stage event and has an “18″ rating. This is puzzling because there is nothing remotely raunchy or obscene in the film.
Maybe it is because of the sight of Afdlin Shauki and Harun Salim Bachik playing women in two skits, or someone else holding up a bra for everyone to see. Director Hans Isaac is kind enough to pan the camera at the audience during a few awkward moments.
Zizan Razak and Johan Raja Lawak, of comedic duo Jozan, also take turns to play a conniving woman in a tudung (shawl) during their skit.
So, you have Afdlin, Harun, Zizan and Jozan playing women. This raises serious issues about the state of comedy in Malaysia, or that Malaysians simply love it when comedians and actors dress up as women to obtain laughs. Cross-dressing is alive and kicking in conservative Malaysia.
Nabil Raja Lawak (who appeared in the worst Malaysian film last year, Cinta Beruang) opens the film by dancing with a troupe to South Korean singer PSY’s Gangnam Style, but with localised Malay lyrics.
He cracks a few jokes about PSY’s horsing-around antics and says a traditional Malay dance called kuda kepang had been around since the 19th century. He makes a few decent jokes but his segment is the weakest in the film.
Afdlin and Harun appear as a female patient seeking the counsel of a female psychiatrist. The former hams it up by playing an overweight (he IS overweight) woman sitting in sexy poses on the doctor’s couch. This skit brings the house down.
Zizan and Johan play two roommates who are interested in the same woman called Nasmadia. When Zizan plays the roommate, Johan wears a green shawl. When Johan plays the roommate, Zizan takes over the shawl.
Each has his own way of playing the woman, and it is hilarious to see them hugging each other and pretending to kiss the woman. Both men also show their athleticism by running on the stage with amazing dexterity.
Nabil joins Afdlin and Harun in a skit involving passengers and stewardesses on a low-budget airplane heading for Seoul. Nabil plays a talkative passenger while the other two play stewardesses.
The funniest guy is Harith Iskander. His routine starts off slow and viewers may wonder if marriage has affected his comedic skills.
He talks about how he met his wife on Facebook and about people’s zeal to post the most mundane stuff about themselves on the social networking site. For example, he says, there are those who post pictures of their teh tarik, but what is worse is people responding to those pictures.
The big guy is now in full flight and he has the audience eating out his hands. He talks about how he drove to meet a girlfriend a long time ago in his Proton car and how a call from her caused great consternation to him as he has to park by the roadside to talk to her.
He mentions about getting sympathetic glances from passing male motorists. A cop even stops over to put those yellow cones around his car to guide traffic.
This is all really funny stuff, until I remember that Harith cracked the same jokes (phone call, faulty Proton car windows and sympathetic cop) in his monthly stand-up comedy routine at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, in 2000.
Dear readers, you can see that I have a great memory, which is why I can refer to films that I’ve seen eons ago in my film reviews.
In all, this is the first time I enjoyed a Malaysian film. I only wish that I could have seen this performance live on stage.
3 1/2 out of 5
What do you think? Please share your views.