The generals who run Burma don't like it when the joke's on them, but political satire and humor are alive in military-ruled Burma.
A popular VCD depicting a traditional anyein performance is now selling like hot cakes in Burma. An anyein is like a variety show with comedians, singing and dancing.
The performance took place at Myaw Zin Gyun near Rangoon’s lake Kan Daw Gyi on November 24.
Well-known comedians including Godzilla, King Kong and Kyaw Htoo and four comedians known as “Thee Lay Thee" performed live in spite of a warning from authorities.
Before going on stage, Godzilla was asked to sign a document saying he would not make political jokes.
The comedian troupe is known as “Say Young Sone” (The Colorful).
The comedians quickly ignored the authorities and began cracking jokes about the military and the September uprising, drawing laughter and cheers from the audience.
The comedians targeted the September uprising, the regime’s municipal policy, the junta-backed Union Solidarity Development Association, religion and UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari.
A VCD of the performance is now widely available in Rangoon despite a ban imposed by the government.
One youth in Rangoon said that since last week the VCD has been on sale on the streets. He said he bought 10 copies to share with his friends.
One of the most popular bits is when two comedians portray UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari and Minister of Information Brig-Gen Kyaw Hsan, who is dubbed as “Comical Ali.”
Kyaw Hsan begins touching the legs of Gambari—the duo then gradually begin to touch mouths, eyes, ears and heads.
Gambari finally says he knows what Kyaw Hsan’s up to.
“This man does not know about “Myanmar!” [Burma],” says Kyaw Hsan.
Finally, the two stand up and can not touch each other any more.
“Your dollars are falling out!” says Kyaw Hsan, pointing to the floor.
Gambari quickly bends over and picks up a US dollar. Kyaw Hsan kicks Gambari in the rear, shouting “This is Myanmar!”
Recently, the UN special envoy’s budget of more than $800,000 was approved for 2008 to work toward national reconciliation. The Nigerian diplomat has a Burmese nickname, “kyauk yu pyan,” which means “one who takes gems and then leaves.”
The performance also touched on Bagan Airline, which is owned by Burmese business tycoon Tay Za.
Snr-Gen Than Shwe was satirized as a man who acted like a king and who treated his "servants" (comedians) like slaves. The servants finally punished the king by beating him.
The Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma began broadcasting the VCD performance on its satellite television network on Thursday.