Friday, July 20, 2007
What Makes Malaysians Laugh?
I have been absorbed by the issue of determining what makes Malaysians laugh the most. What really is humourous to us and what is not? How come some local TV shows which are supposed to tickle our ribs ( or ketiaks?) failed to make us laugh and sometimes reduced to groaning! In fact some comic sketches or skids become pathetically superficial, humdrum, unnatural or outright insulting ethically, morally or intellectual.
My incomplete and superficial survey led me to these tentative conclusions. Everyone is free to refute the validity of my conclusions and if they raise a chuckle it would've served another unexpected purpose - a surrendipitious outcome!
Malaysians laughed (or guffawed) hardest when they see some fumbling "clowns" or "wierdos" meet with an unexpected tragedy:
like a fall from a high place, being knocked down by a passing truck, crushed by a crane -but of course being able to walk out with just a mere limp. Tom's suffering at the hands of Jerry in "Tom and Jerry Cartoon" is a case in point. We like to see people suffer but not fatally, of course.
The psychologists call this trait SCHADENFREUDE - A MALICIOUS ENJOYMENT OF ANOTHER'S MISFORTUNE. So, one can say that most Malaysians (of course there are many angels among us) are schadenfreudic. What a term! The simple Malay version would be "suka tengok orang susah"! Wow, lagi teruk. The opposite trait is GLADENFREUDE - HAPPY TO SEE OTHER'S ( especially your own friends) GOODLUCK OR FORTUNE. The Malay version is even simpler. Suka tengok orang suka. Hey, which one are you? There's no value judgement attached here, only a little nudge in the ribs.
The second source of laughter is, we rejoice at seeing stupid behavior or reaction unexpectedly stupid ( or witty of course depending on ypour pov), or naive. Things like: Q. How was the kiss? A. Wet ( From The Rain Man), Q. Who did Rafiah marry? A. A man, or Q. Kita nak ke mana? A. Ke depan! (This reminds me of Hafsyam's ad. Jalan mesti kedepan jangan kebelakang!)
What kind of trait or attitude can this habit of laughing at stupidities or naivettes be called? I haven't come across the most approprite term but NAIVETTEFORIA seems suitable, obtained by just combining "naivette" and "euphoria", a state of being happy. Of course we can try to coin other terms like IMBECILEOPHORIA a person who loves to laugh at those blunderers or
fumblers like Mr Bumstead, or IMBECILEOPHILE. a person who like to laugh at imbeciles, while those who hate blunderers can be said to suffer from IMBECILEOPHOBIA. Getting a headache? The Malay version would be much easier - sukabodoh!
Malaysians seem to just love to laugh at stupid people or action and reaction. But cool down. So do many others in the world and Walt Disney made a huge fortune plying to peoples' IMBECILEOFORIA. Why so? It's simple psychology, really. People feel good when they see others more stupid than they are. Imbeciles and stupidos can become an egobooster!
The third thing Malaysians seem to laugh at the most is something that has a sexual frame of reference, connotation, inuendos etc, or plain lewd and erotic. It can be the action of an oldtimer getting excited over an SYT, a "dirty" joke but a surefire rib-tickler, a "juicy" conversation, a crude sex-act episode, or anything that stirs up one' concupiscence ( you need a good dictionary for that one although you surely know what it means).
Some would say that "concupiscenic" anecdotes or wisecracks must surely top the list of rib-ticklers.Everyone ( including the ladies) love erotic jokes. It has been said that ladies (real ladies) would not not laugh at such jokes when told by a man but among themselves, they can break the richter scale. People just love such jokes, the cruder ( some say the harder) the better.
I'd leave the rating to the readers since my research is neither complete nor scientific, with an ample degree of freedom and hence a very low level of confidence ( that's for the researchers!). The population sample is actually the bloggers and readers' response.
But there we are, the three things Malaysians laugh at the most. All other sources of laughter seem to be variations of the same theme. I hope this has not been an exercise in FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION ( a thing of no value, trifle, nothing
(Source: 1000 Most Challenging Words, Norman W. Schur). I sometimes laugh at the English Language. It can be a lot of fun but unfortunately many Malaysians prefer Malenglish or Singenglish, using it as a source of laughter, perhaps as a fourth
kind. Well, it's a free country......Laugh at whatever you like for laughter does invigorate the soul. He.he.he.