IN REVIEW: Finding Humor in Myanmar

Zarganar, a famous Burmese comedian who was recently released from prison last year, is set to appear in a popular UK comedy show, “No Pressure to be Funny.”

Since the late 80’s, Zarganar has been in and out of prison, persecuted for speaking out against the oppressive rule of the military government. As a pro-democratic activist, his last offense back in 2008 was to criticize the government for neglecting to aid victims of the cyclone Nargis, which in its wake left 140,000 people.

“No Pressure to be Funny” co-creator, Nick Revell, gives credence to Zarganar’s appearance in the show, which is performed in front of a live audience at the London Soho Theater and there afterwards can be heard as a podcast. He points to the nuances of being a comedian.

But where most comedians’ greatest fear would be telling a dead joke, Zarganar has to face the possibility of imprisonment for telling a political gag. He was sentenced to 59 years in prison until Amnesty International relentlessly advocated for his release. To express his gratitude, Zarganar appeared in the Amnesty’s Secret Policeman’s Ball in New York City, where he thanked the international organization for their enormous efforts and overwhelming advocacy on free speech and human rights.

Zarganar is set to make an appearance at a concert in Dublin held in honor of National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi, where Bono, U2 lead singer, will be giving Suu Kyi the highest honor given by the Amnesty International.

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