PM Lee draws groans as “Mee Siam Mai Hum” comedy gig goes global
Washington — PM Lee Hsien Loong made his long-awaited première on the after-dinner comedy circuit last night, drawing largely negative reviews from an audience of stoic and middle-aged U.S. businessmen.
Armed with a stockpile of crass and offensive jokes, he drew groans — and few laughs — with his quips, including several about China’s environmental problems.
“Beijing residents joke that to get a free smoke all they have to do is open their windows!” Mr Lee said, as members of his entourage were seen shielding their faces and cowering in their seats in visible embarrassment.
Mr Lee also alluded to thousands of pig carcasses recently fished from Chinese rivers.
“(In) Shanghai, if you want some pork soup, you just turn on the tap,” he said, drawing a loud collective gasp from the audience.
When it appeared doubtful if the joke was in good taste, Mr Lee added, “That’s their joke, not mine!”
Interviewed after the show, Mr Lee said, “I always knew there is a funny yet sophisticated side to me.”
“There’s this pent-up humour in my belly that was kept inside for too long. I mean, just look at the grim faces I have to live with at home.”
Since the success of his debut act “Mee Siam Mai Hum” at the 2006 National Day Rally, Lee has received strong encouragement from his faithful yes-men fan club to bring the show international.
“He is just toooo funny,” purred a groupie known only as Ms Tin.
Pressed further on whether she found the jokes offensive, Ms Tin broke into a feet-stomping tantrum and cried, “I don’t know what to say!!”
Going global means ditching the local mee siam humour, which had every Singaporean laughing at him, in exchange for international jokes on pork soup he stole from Internet forums.
But in doing so, he offended one billion Chinese people.
Already, government officials are calling this a public relations disaster.
“Just because the Chinese make jokes about themselves doesn’t mean you as an outsider can,” said an official who declined to be named. “The PM obviously doesn’t get self-deprecation.”
One senior Chinese official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Didn’t he just cajole up to our new President last month claiming to be our BFF?”
“Now he’s making fun of us in front of the Americans!”
As dependable as ever, the fanzines are out in full force. Channel NewsAsia gave the performance five stars out of five, while The Straits Times proclaimed, “The best show ever. An international comedy star is born.”
The paper also urged fellow party members such as Zorro and Kee Chiu to get their acts together and go global as well, to tap on an international audience.
“This will signal to foreign investors that we are serious about being a bunch of jokers,” wrote the editor.
Not every one is getting a clear signal, though. “Does this mean it’s now ok to say bad things about foreigners without being called xenophobic?” asked a reader in Singapore.
For his next gig, Mr Lee will get to realise his lifelong dream of appearing on South Park as a crude and oppressive leader of an exotic country in the Far East who speaks with a funny local accent.
“We are always on the lookout for foreign talent with a knack for insensitive, tasteless jokes,” said Trey Parker, co-creator of the cartoon series. “Looks like we found just the right man.”
Bookmakers have also slashed the odds on Mr Lee replacing Seth MacFarlane as host of the next Oscars.