The Jakarta Post
Prominent Indonesian comic Pandji Pragiwaksono (Instagram.com/pandji.pragiwaksono/File)
Afirst-person account about being approached by a famous soccer player, who makes the suggestion of visiting a genital enlargement clinic while in Papua, is hilarious by itself.
But when delivered by prominent Indonesian comic Pandji Pragiwaksono, as he did in the closing show of his standup comedy Juru Bicara (Spokesperson) world tour in Jakarta in December, the humor reaches new bounds.
The sight gag that followed the joke caused a roll in the audience even after Pandji’s throwaway on the importance of recognizing the wonders of Indonesia and selling it to the hungry market abroad.
“A bit different is a bit better than a bit better,” he emphasized in a bit about entrepreneurship.
“Rather than competing by producing a better product compared to the existing ones, you might want to come out with something different to create your own market.”
And that was the set-up to his bits about prostitution and why it should be legalized, monogamous relationships, the endangered Owa Jawa and other animals of Indonesia, human rights abuses and national education, exactly in that order down to the emotional closing line.
“As a kid who always came last in class rank, there’s a chip on my shoulder that stayed in me. Tonight, I just want my two kids to know that their father has achieved his dreams.”
The standing ovation from 3,500 people in the audience at The Kasablanka multifunction hall of Kota Kasablanka shopping mall in South Jakarta was not the end of the event. After two-and-a-half hours of telling jokes non-stop without a break, Pandji stayed on stage to take pictures with over 1,500 people one by one, some in groups, and sign merchandise.
Last year, Pandji did the same in the closing of his Mesakke Bangsaku world tour, attended by only 1,200 people.
“I’m grateful so many people came despite the bad weather and traffic tonight. I take it as a display of trust in me — they believed that I wouldn’t waste their time,” he said after the show, which ended at 2 a.m.
Pandji is at the frontlines of the Indonesian comic scene today and is still in the upper echelon of the long list of local comics. As the first Indonesian, and first comic, to have been on a world tour, he’s known for his ability to address sensitive and controversial issues through jokes without undermining their importance.
This skill and his political savviness have exposed him to non-governmental organizations concerned with such issues, resulting in them having requested for him to become their “spokesperson” in bringing the issues to a wider audience. Thus, this unofficial role became the title of his latest world tour.
At the show, opened by Coki Pardede and Indra Jegel, Pandji also talked about TV ratings, religion and radicalism, atheism, the environment and homosexuality. None of the themes are typically laughing matters, but he pulled them off on stage.
There was no unnecessary hammocking — toning down between bits — as he smoothly segued from one topic to another, inserting some blue material (the reason the show was off-limits for kids below 15) while working the crowd before making a callback to the jokes told earlier but in a different light.
He had worked on the script for six months starting in 2015 before calling on the tour, which was constructed through elaborate research and data.
The tour started on April 2, when Pandji and a small entourage traveled to 24 cities in five continents. Speaking largely to Indonesian communities, some of which included foreigners familiar with the Indonesian language, Pandji held the tour in Shanghai and Beijing, China; Hannover, Leipzig, Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich, Germany; Tokyo, Japan; Melbourne and Sydney, Australia.
Pandji also went to the United States to tour Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, then Liverpool in the United Kingdom and Pretoria in South Africa. The show also visited the Indonesian cities of Medan, Yogyakarta, Balikpapan, Surabaya and Makassar.
Now helping a candidate of the upcoming Jakarta gubernatorial election as a spokesperson “because that’s the only thing I know as I’m not into practical politics,” Pandji was up for his next plan.
“The team and I will have a bit of downtime until February as we start to prepare for another world tour.”