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A deadly serious laugh

Prof Kishore Mahbunai is now down to his last big idea for Singapore: We should litter not, laugh a lot and love Singapore. I am only going to deal with laugh a lot, because that’s the most fun part. He thinks part of the reason we are gloomy people could be that we live in such a densely populated place. Easy to get irritated. We simply have to learn to love with this existential condition, he says.

He also wants national cartoonists to be nurtured and for leaders to allow themselves to be made fun of. Like Tommy Koh, Chan Heng Chee, Ho Kwon Ping and Gerard Ee. He said that they surely wouldn’t mind being lampooned once in a while. (Note that he steered clear of political figures here, although he named Malaysia’s Mahathir as someone who, despite being heavily caricatured, didn’t have his stature diminished one bit.)

Gosh! I think he doesn’t get online much.

Anyone I can just imagine the fuss if cartoonists started parodying everyone in more accessible, physical spaces than, hmm, online. So boh tua, boh suay!   There’s a difference between tasteful illustrations and comic caricatures. And the plain rude types. I can already hear the protests: It would denigrate the authority of the person. Surely, a cartoonist can’t be going around asking for permission from the person he wants to parody?

In any case, I agree that we should laugh a lot more than we do. I can’t help but think about how deadly serious we are about holding to certain points of view.

So let’s have a deadly serious laugh then…

POLITICIAN aka PM: I am deadly serious when I tell you that we’ll be seriously dead if we lose the next election.

PANEL MODERATOR: Can you please be deadly serious or even half-way serious? In fact, can you just be serious?

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TAI TAI: I am in a deadly serious fix. Both my hairstylist and manicurist have gone on holiday.

ANXIOUS DAD: Son, this is deadly serious. If you don’t get into the Gifted Education Programme, it will kill me.

KID: I am going to throw a deadly serious tantrum if I don’t get to play on my iPad. In fact, I might cry, choke and die.

CYCLIST: HolyCrit is about deadly serious cycling. Except no one has died yet.

JOVER CHEW: Of course I am deadly serious about ethical business practices which do not include making customers kneel.

SIM LIM RETAILER: I am deadly serious when I say that Sim Lim Square is now a seriously dead place.

SPORTSHUB: We are deadly serious about replacing the National Stadium turf with dead grass.

MOS DESMOND LEE: I am deadly serious when I say the Workers Party should be transparent and accountable about its town council finances.

WP’s SYLVIA LIM: I agree that this issue is so deadly serious that you will have our answer in due course.

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YANG YIN: I am deadly serious about my love for Singapore, my godmother and her money.

PROF KISHORE: I am being deadly serious about laughing a lot.

Written By

An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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