Harith Iskander: Comedians should be aware of the impact of their words

8 Jun – Harith Iskander recently addressed the most recent comedy-related controversy, this time concerning Singapore's comedienne, Jocelyn Chia.

The comedy man, who had seen the now viral clip of Jocelyn making fun of the missing airplane MH370, took to social media and expressed, "The loss of the plane was and is a deeply traumatic event for Malaysians. As a comedian, I respect the freedom of expression that we comedians require to do our job. But it is equally important to exercise some level of sensitivity and empathy when doing certain material especially topics that are deeply personal or tragic."

The comedian stated that while comedy can be a powerful tool for social commentary, it needs to be used responsibly.

"We need to be aware of the potential impact our words can have. Comedy, like all art forms, is a subjective form of expression. That means, what's funny to one person may not be necessarily funny to someone else and you got to keep in mind context," he added.

Harith stresses the importance of sensitivity and empathy
Harith stresses the importance of sensitivity and empathy

Harith stated that he knows the said Singaporean comedienne was performing in a comedy club in the US, but that as a Singaporean, she should have been a little bit smarter to realise that in this age of social media, picking on a Malaysian in the audience and then bringing up MH370 is going to get up on the internet.

"It's going to have a wider effect," he said.

Harith stated that as a comedian, the intention is to make people laugh, and that stand-up comedy should strive to create a positive and inclusive comedic environment.

The comedian added that just like others, he too made fun of Singapore all the time, though it was a friendly banter that allows them to coexist.

Finally, he relayed a message to Jocelyn, and said that while Malaysia is a developing country, when it comes to kindness and thoughtfulness, "We are definitely first world."

His words were echoed by many others, including Singaporean CEO of Safinah Institute Mizi Wahid, who expressed in the comments, "I'm completely with you on this. Just sick, distasteful, and insensitive."

In the said clip recorded from the US club, Jocelyn jokingly cussed at a Malaysian in the audience, likening Malaysia as an ex-boyfriend and making fun of the fact that Singapore is now a first world country while Malaysia is still developing, and went on to joke about the missing Malaysian Airlines' airplane.


(Photo Source: Harith Iskander Instagram, TOC)