“No matter which city I visit, there will be Singaporeans. We are like the cockroaches of the world. We are everywhere!” The crowd in Seattle burst out in laughter at mrbrown’s unusual choice of analogy.
Mr Lee Kin Mun, more affectionately known as mrbrown, brought his familiar sense of humour and sunny disposition to the Singaporean communities in Ann Arbor (24 Oct), Chicago (26 Oct) and Seattle (27 Oct) during the cool autumn for the Singapore Buzz (SG Buzz) series. Some Singaporeans even travelled from Canada to enjoy a slice of home through interactions with mrbrown.
mrbrown with the Singaporean students from University of Chicago
mrbrown shared with Singaporeans who were present at SG Buzz series about his blog, mrbrown.com and his podcasts, including the famous sketch on bak chor mee in 2006 and his recent parody of Chanel No. 5’s advertisement which featured Brad Pitt.
mrbrown sharing his stories with the Singaporeans in Ann Arbor
Poking fun of gahmen and social issues
While his wicked sense of humour endeared him to many Singaporeans, his jokes about political figures in Singapore and the developments in Singapore had resulted in some unpleasant experiences, including having his column in TODAY newspaper suspended and his article on inSing.com removed. He shared that these experiences did not deter him from poking fun at the authorities and issues in Singapore. In fact, mrbrown clarified that as a blogger with “no filters”, he satirises almost anything, not just political figures and issues - as long as he found the material worthy of a joke.
A Singaporean in Chicago posing questions on mrbrown’s works and censorship
mrbrown addressed questions posed by Singaporeans on his close calls with the authorities and censorship in Singapore. He shared his opinion that censorship, while still in existence, is slightly more relaxed and the Government is now more open to differing views. He joked, “When I first started my blog, my mother warned me against writing about the Government for fear of me being jailed. But we are now seeing Singaporeans expressing different views, some even more extreme than mine. Thanks to them, I’m seen as a moderate and will not be thrown into jail!”
He elaborated that the OB markers are fluid, and there are no clear boundaries. Instead of worrying about overstepping the boundaries, mrbrown prefers to focus on presenting the lighter side of issues in Singapore to entertain his readers. “In the U.S., anyone can make fun of the government and the President. There’s no fun in that. But in Singapore, it is more fun to make jokes about the gahmen – it takes guts to do that!” he quipped.
The Singaporean behind mrbrown
In addition, mrbrown also shed some light on his personal life. As a resident of Aljunied GRC, he joked about living in “hammer country”, tickling Singaporeans in the three cities he spoke in. He also presented a glimpse of the family man that he is, including the challenges of raising a child with special needs and his appreciation for his family’s support during the tougher times, for instance, when his weekly column was taken down and when he quit his day job to start his own company (He currently runs a production company for a living).
On the question of how he got his name, mrbrown, he shared that it started during his teenage years when his catchphrase was, “How now, brown cow?” His friends gave him the nickname “Mr Brown” and it stuck. “Thankfully, they called me Mr Brown. Mr Cow would sound terrible,” to which the crowd chuckled.
Singaporeans in Seattle can’t wait to get a picture with the affable mrbrown
Despite the satirical jibes he makes about Singapore, he still calls Singapore home as he concluded his sharing with the Singaporeans in Ann Arbor, Chicago and Seattle with a podcast that he recorded in 2006, titled “I am Singaporean”. He summed up his feelings of pride for Singapore in the closing lines of the podcast.
“My name is mrbrown and I am Singaporean. So say we all. So say we all.”
By Yang Yanyi