KUALA LUMPUR – The man who never wanted to pit himself against his fellow Malaysian comedians is in the running to be the Funniest Person in the World as he advances to the semi-finals of a major international competition.
Harith Iskander will soon make his way to Helsinki, Finland, for the next stage of the competition organised by Laugh Factory – a chain of comedy clubs in the United States after beating 88 others, including Malaysian doctor-turned-comedian Dr Jason Leong, in the first round.
Harith, one of the country’s best-loved comedians, will battle 19 others in the semi-finals on Dec 5 to be among the top five to slug it out for the title of Funniest Person in the World in the final on Dec 9.
“This is probably the biggest competition ever for a Malaysian … just look at the prize money alone – US$100,000 (RM420,000).
“That tells you this is a big deal,” the 50-year-old said, adding that he felt slightly nervous about performing at the semi-finals.
“But I’m not going there just to jalan-jalan (for a holiday). I want to win this,” he declared.
Speaking to The Star, Harith said this was the first time in his 26-year career as a comedian that he would be participating in a stand-up comedy competition.
He added that he would never enter a competition in Malaysia, however.
“Why would I want to compete with my fellow Malaysians?
“I can mentor them, I can be a judge (for competitions) but I won’t compete,” he said, adding that this contest was about fulfilling his “personal desire” to see where he stood among comedians from other countries.
Asked about his bag of tricks, Harith said he would adapt his gig to suit different sets of audiences, but mainly go for universal themes related to humanity.
“I will be bringing material which is internationally recognisable and relatable to everyone.
“Basically, anything on human relations the relationship between a man and a woman, the relationship with one’s parents,” he said.
Harith also said he would bring a Malaysian perspective to these common experiences.
“Just stay away from political jokes, that’s for your country,” he said.
The busy comedian, who is also the host of the talk show Obviously Harith Iskander, said he also mentored up-and-coming comedians.
“I want people to succeed.
“I am also writing a book, it will sort of be my guide to Malaysia,” he added.
As online votes make up half the score of the Funniest Person in the World contest, Malaysians can vote for Harith at www.voteforharith.com/ until Dec 5. – The Star Online