KUALA LUMPUR: Comedy is the unifying force that keeps Malaysians together, says the country’s renowned funnyman Harith Iskander.
He should know, having brought laughter to audiences locally and internationally for 27 years.
The man, who was crowned the Funniest Person in the World at a competition organised by Laugh Factory, the US-based chain of comedy clubs, in Finland last December, said the true representation of unity in Malaysia could be seen at comedy shows.
“In 2014, I had 9,000 people at my show To Know Malaysia is to Laugh Malaysia, and when I saw the photos, I was so pleased to see such a diverse crowd laughing.
“When the lights are dimmed, we do not see race, religion or even age. No matter who you are in the audience, we all look towards the stage during the show and we laugh together.
“It’s much like participating in or cheering at a sports event, or when we engage in a physical activity like playing a game or participating in a walk together. That is when we connect with one another, regardless of our differences,” he said.
Raising two boys and a girl with his wife Dr Jezamine Lim, Harith, 51, said he was impressed by their children’s outlook on what it meant to be Malaysian.
“Our older son and daughter are aware that our family members are of different races but the terms Chinese and Indian do not register with them, these are just words.
“It is really beautiful to see that.
“Someday, they will ask me what those terms mean and what it means to be Malaysian, and I think I have to be well-prepared to answer their questions and remind them that it comes back to being courteous and kind to others,” he added.
Echoing his words, Jezamine, 33, said their children were growing their Malaysian identity based on their own choices.
“I want our children, especially our daughter, to have their own voice and personality.
“The children decide what they want to wear, and they love wearing traditional outfits, even when it’s not the festive season.
“Our three-year-old Alessandrea will wear her cheongsam and lengha when she feels like it. She even rolls up her baju kurung when she wants to run about because, to her, it is all about comfort,” she said.
Having joined the #AnakAnakMalaysia Walk last year, Harith and Jezamine are encouraging others to be part of the event this year. “Jezamine and I had a great time being part of the walk, and I think everyone should make it a point to wake up, greet each other and walk the route together,” he said.
#AnakAnakMalaysia Walk 2017 will be held at Dataran Kemerdekaan Shah Alam on Aug 27.
The registration fee is RM80 for families (two adults plus two children), RM40 for an adult (18 years and above), and RM15 for a child (seven to 17 years).
Registration for this year’s walk can be done at http://sites.thestar.com.my/aamwalk/. #AnakAnakMalaysia Walk is organised by Star Media Group, in partnership with Eco World Development Group Bhd.
Other sponsors for the event include Proton (car sponsor) and Panasonic (silver sponsor).
Living overseas now?
Not to worry, you can still be a part of the #Anak-AnakMalaysia Walk anywhere you are in the world!
Just head to a foreign landmark near you and share a picture or a video of yourself with the poster, which can be downloaded from here or www.facebook.com/TheStarOnline/.
You can print it out, or display it on your mobile device. Selfies and wefies are also welcome.
E-mail your photographs and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org or upload the pictures and videos on your public Instagram, Twitter or Facebook account with the hashtag #AnakAnakMalaysia2017.
Pictures and videos submitted will be shared on The Star Online’s social media accounts and published on our different platforms, so have fun and start sending them over today!