Everyone thought Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, MLA, was the king of goof-ups until Tuesday. On day-one of the assembly session on Tuesday, even Homer came to a nod as the ever-right and uptight chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, made Chappathichola of Pappathichola. When some attentive legislators corrected him, he could not get it initially and was heard repeating 'chappathi' twice. As laughter erupted, the CM smiled and uttered the correct name.
But Thiruvanchoor was not to be left behind. The darling of trollers and the hero of a zillion gaffe memes, he rose to make a statement on the all-woman collective in Munnar. The former minister tried hard to hit the right nomenclature but failed miserably. The entire House erupted in laughter as a determined Thiruvanchoor opted to settle for an inadvertent Pembilai Eruma (Eruma is she-buffalo in Malayalam).
Anti-women barb: Unmoved by MM Mani's regret, Pembilai Orumai continues protest in Munnar
Then came the one by K.M. Mani, who recently completed 50 years as a legislator. He said, "in protest against the unwillingness of M.M. Mani to resign, my party and I resign." An astonished speaker Sreeramakrishnan was quick to seek a clarification – 'resigned?' Mani, in his cracking baritone, repeated the statement, but with a different ending - 'raaji vakkunilla' (not resigning).
Gaffes apart, humor has been an inevitable part of Kerala Assembly. Learned MLAs often pick humorous anecdotes and tales to put forth their points. Many former legislators like K.M. Seethi (Seethi Haji) have also been the butt of humor as many jokes were often unjustifiably attributed to him. Former additional chief secretary D. Babu Paul has authored a book called, Rekhayanam: Niyamasabha Phalithangal, which lists the best of humor in the House.
After the explosion of television channels in the state, many channels had artistes to mimic prominent leaders such as V.S. Achuthanandan, A.K. Antony and Oommen Chandy. Many politicians saw the programs, which garnered good TRP ratings, as a plank for appeal advancement.
Former diplomat T.P. Sreenivasan, in the article, 'In Kerala, Political humour is embraced, (New York Times, November 1, 2012), writes "all the channels seem to have found their own versions of Antony, Chandy and Achuthanandan, with varying degrees of similarity with the originals.
Just as the real Charlie Chaplin once lost a Chaplin look-alike contest, the real politicians will have a hard time competing with their impersonators, as the latter appear to be more authentic than the former." The writer quotes Shashi Tharoor in the same article: “As a devotee of free speech, I tell myself that it is flattering to be found worthy of being satirized, so one just grins and bears it and hopes the damage is not lasting,” Shashi Tharoor says.
Anyhow, as learned men say, it is the same neurons that are fired when you laugh and cry. So, when profundity appears in the garb of humor, why tread the brink of tears? Meanwhile, let us look to the assembly for more.