The police have arrested a woman who allegedly insulted Islam during her recent performance at Crackhouse Comedy Club in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI).
She has since been remanded for three days from July 10 to 12, and is being detained at the Brickfields district police headquarters.
A video of the woman who took off her headscarf and baju kurung on stage at the club had gone viral on social media.
The club said it banned the woman and her partner from the venue immediately after her stand-up performance and lodged a police report.
It was reported that the club’s co-founder Rizal Van Geyzel said that his team was initially happy to see a Malay woman in a headscarf who wanted to participate in the comedy event.
However, he said all the staff and the other comics present were “totally shocked and gobsmacked” when the woman started disrobing her tudung and baju kurung.
She was wearing a spaghetti strap dress underneath the traditional attire.
“We were getting our bearings together. Before any action could be taken (usually by a ring of a bell or turning the mic off), she left the stage. We were all just stunned,” Rizal was quoted as saying.
He said the woman was not a regular at the club, nor did the team know her, but they usually allow unknown people to perform in order to discover new talent.
He added that City Hall’s (DBKL) decision to shut its premises is “flabbergasting”.
He said DBKL’s decision shows that the council doesn’t understand how stand-up comedy works.
“We are completely flabbergasted that we have been suspended. DBKL has yet to formally inform us. We just read it on all the news portals,” Rizal was quoted as saying.
“Now, DBKL seems to have succumbed to pressure from those who don’t understand the stand-up comedy genre and have apparently issued us a temporary suspension order.”
Rizal said that during open mic nights new talents are given the opportunity to take the stage with clear guidelines.
“On open mic nights, where newbies and those interested in trying stand-up comedy, each person is given three minutes to perform. We tell them clearly that they cannot insult royalty and religion.
“We cannot ‘police’ open mic nights. It defeats the objective of nurturing new talent.”
Rizal said that the club is disappointed that creative freedom has been curtailed before a formal investigation has been carried out.
“We will, of course, comply and we will also work with the authorities to deal with this situation, but we are also deeply disappointed that without due process, freedom is curtailed so easily.
“The Crackhouse Comedy Club will co-operate but strongly denies any wrongdoing in this matter.”
It is unclear how long the closure will last, he added.
Meanwhile, Harith Iskander said the actions of the woman was not stand-up comedy and was “painful to watch”.
“It was painful to watch and more importantly, there was nothing funny about what she said or did,” Harith was quoted as saying.
“Her intention was to shock and offend. And she has shocked and offended.
“Therefore, she was not doing stand-up comedy,” he added.
Harith said at the end of the day, the woman “obviously needs help”.
The comedian said while he initially felt bad for the woman because she might be unaware that someone might secretly be recording her act, he claimed it was her friend who shot the performance and that she had uploaded it herself.
Another Malaysian comedian, Douglas Lim, has come out in support of Crackhouse Comedy Club, saying the controversial performance seen in a viral video was an exception rather than the rule.
“The Crackhouse is not a breeding ground for such rude performances as it is a place where budding comedians and professionals try their best to tell jokes to make people laugh.
“They have been operating there for eight years and I have performed there many times but I have never seen anything like this before,” he said in a video posted on his Facebook page on Sunday (July 10).
“The performer (if I can call her that) intended to shock, insult and enrage and I consider it as an act of sabotage by an irresponsible person,” he added.