23 October 2016
Actor Gregory Charles Rivers sings the song ATV Forever in Cantonese on a wildly popular live TV show put on by satirical website 100Most earlier this month. Photo: TVMost
Actor Gregory Charles Rivers sings the song ATV Forever in Cantonese on a wildly popular live TV show put on by satirical website 100Most earlier this month. Photo: TVMost

Hongkongers need more of sense of humour, especially in politics

I enjoyed watching TVMost First Guy Ten Big Ging Cook Gum Cook Awards Distribution (毛記電視第一屆十大勁曲金曲分獎典禮) so much.

I found the show to be humorous, interesting and of a high quality.

Yet it is so Hong Kong.

I say “yet” because, these days, it is rare to see decent stuff produced by the Hong Kong entertainment industry. 

The days of Stephen Chow at his best are long gone.

Take the coming commerical movies for the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong as an example.

Putting aside the problem that they include artists from the mainland and maybe a few from Taiwan, making many of the jokes somewhat not to Hongkongers’ taste, I think the consensus is that they are just not that funny.

This is not merely a problem affecting the entertainment industry but, in my opinion, part of a bigger problem in Hong Kong generally.

In particular, this city’s mainstream politics is absolutely boring, with its large cast of po-faced characters.

When I was studying in England, I used to turn on the television and switch to the BBC parliamentary channel.

I could spend hours watching it.

In Hong Kong, even when the topics being debated are extremely serious and interesting, I cannot put myself through half an hour of the debates.

Ng Leung-sing’s (吳亮星) recent comments in the Legislative Council alleging that the missing staff of Causeway Bay Books had gone to China to look for prostitutes marked a new low.

When I ran for the Wong Tai Sin district council last year, I encountered similar problems.

My supporters kept warning me that being funny would lose me votes – people do not like candidates who are not “serious”.

As a result of the well-meaning advice, I felt straitjacketed and unable to be myself.

I am certain that many candidates, in pursuit of votes, were put into the same difficult situation.

This is a shame, because I am sure it is a win-win situation if the voters get to see candidates who are more at ease, and the candidates would enjoy their campaigns more if they could just be themselves and speak their minds.

I recently filmed an episode of Pentaprism (左右紅藍綠) for RTHK.

The staff were all so friendly and helpful, but I couldn’t help but feel they were a bit wooden.

It was my first visit to their studio in Kowloon Tong, and as I had an appointment right after the filming, I did as they had instructed.

The result was that I, too, sounded wooden and dull.

I regret not insisting that I be filmed in my own style.

Solution? My critics say I often pose problems without offering any insights as to the way out.

Well, Voltaire once said, “Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”

I concur with his view and I do not pretend to have all the answers.

However, on this occasion, I offer this insight – simply bear in mind the importance of being funny.

This comes from my personal experience in English boarding schools.

There is this general ethos where you have to make fun of everything – it is a sin to take yourself too seriously.

I have always had a group of friends who share this self-deprecating humor, but it is not widespread enough.

I know a few in the entertainment industry who share my views and live by the same ethos.

But we need more such people. And we need such people in Hong Kong politics.

I support 100Most.

I hope it will continue to be successful in the long run, as its success can have a positive effect on the psyche of Hong Kong.

We will be funnier and more lighthearted, but I am sure we will still take issues seriously.

I believe this will help create the conditions for a moderate way of debating political issues.

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Barrister and member of Path of Democracy

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