It’s hard to get Malaysians and Singaporeans to agree on anything, particularly when comparing things in their beloved nations.

Does Malaysia or Singapore have better attractions? Whose food is better? Which side of the Causeway is it better to stay on? These questions have probably been asked since the formation of both countries.

One thing that both nations can probably agree on, however, is there are many things in both Malaysia and Singapore that are really rife for comedy. There’s plenty to laugh about in both places.

This was clear in Cannot Means Cannot, a show by Singaporean comedian Rishi Budhrani at The Platform, Menara KEN in Taman Tun, Kuala Lumpur, recently. The event was a steady stream of laugher from start to finish, with plenty of fun being poked at the foibles of both Malaysians and Singaporeans.

The show started with two opening acts: Puchong-born comedian Thenesh Skip and Singaporean funnyman Jacky Ng. Both acts did well: Thenesh, in particular, showed he was an act not to be missed (or skipped, haha), delivering good material on off-beat topics such as the thought processes of ghosts on haunted house shows.

As for Ng, it took slightly longer for the audience to warm up to the more risque bits of his material. But his jokes that succeeded, really succeeded. The bit about snoring brought in the chuckles all right.


Local comedian Thenesh Skip proving his mettle.

And then it was time for Rishi, or, as the opening acts called him, “the man you actually paid money to see”. Entering to the tune of the classic song Sejahtera Malaysia, the Singaporean comedian provided punchline after punchline, amusing the audience with his sharp wit and whimsical observations.

The comedian has certainly been making waves: he was the first Singaporean to win the Hong Kong International Comedy Competition, and to perform at the prestigious Gotham Comedy Club in New York.

He’s performed in Australia, India and China, and been featured on Comedy Central’s Stand Up Asia. And in his first Malaysian solo show, he certainly delivered.

Much of Rishi’s material drew inspiration from Singapore’s reputation as a rather authoritarian nature: hence the title of his show. Ever wondered why Singapore is so famous for its zoo? Well, his show will tell you.

The highlight of Rishi’s act, undoubtedly, were his impressions of Mr Tan, a stolid television censor tasked with monitoring the first ever appearance of comedians on Singaporean TV.

Whether it was giving lame examples of how a particular swear word could be used, or planning an entire meeting around another swear word (hint: it rhymes with moo moo cow), this segment was a hoot from start to end.

A lot of his jokes also revolved around racial stereotypes, as well as more traditional conceptions about Indian families: Rishi, thankfully, delivered them well, never ever letting things become stale or demeaning.

Watching his show could be quite an educational experience: one learns about the social hierarchy in beehives, for example, and the secret racism in Singaporean maths problems. With plenty of laughs, of course.

His act may be called Cannot Means Cannot, but Rishi? He definitely can. Four out of five stars, a great reminder that there are some great things across the Causeway after all!