A good comedian has the inborn gift of making jokes out of practically anything and his jokes contain some grains of truth. He is a wise fool. A good Anyeint is judged not only by the physical beauty of the dancers and their singing and dancing or the music, but also by the joking talents of the comedians.
Anyeint comedians need to be differentiated from others of the same category such as jesters, buffoons, and clowns.
The American Heritage Dictionary explains buffoon jester and clown together as follows:
“Clown = buffoon or jester who entertains by jokes, antics and tricks in a circus, play or other presentation”.
But on jester it gives the following explanation:
“Jester = at medieval court a person who spoke, acted or sang to provoke amusement and laughter”.
In Myanmar history, we have court jesters, such as Amat kyi U Paw U of King Bodawpaya’s reign. Court jesters occupied high position at the royal court. Ministers or junior ministers (Amat kyi). They were royal advisers. Their main duty was to help the king in his daily routine and to make jokes to please the king and his audience to reduce royal anger or temper when he was ill disposed and to inform or report to the king unpleasant mutters in a joking style. Court jesters were present at places and great houses across the world in the Medieval Age.
Buffoons appeared on the stage of Elizabethan theatre such as Shakespear’s play houses. They also played the role of chroniclers who briefed the synopsis of the play to be performed soon.
Clowns are those who appear at circus. With painted face, weaving specially designed clownish dress, they come out in announced and showed their antics and tricks to cause laughter to the audience or to dispel their boredom.
So Myanmar Comedians in Anyeint are not exactly the same as these explained above. They are unique.
Here we may note some noted Anyeint dancers and comedians who were very famous in the heyday of Anyeint. They were singers Ma Sein Thone, and dancers Ma Sein Sin, Ma Ngwe Myaing, Au Ba Thaung, University Mya Than Kyi, College Sein, Liberty Mya Yin, UTC Shwe Hnin Zi, College Myaing I.C.S.Ma Tin Shwe, Fashion Aung Ngwe, Mya Thaung Khin, Hla Galay Sein etc.
Among comedians, U Kyin Khe, U Thin Khar, U Oat Si, U Dat San, U Dut Kho, U Taung Gyi, U Chit Saya, U Paw San etc were most well known. Later some of them appeared in Myanmar movies.
In the post Second World War period, Myanmar Anyeint gradually declined in every aspect. The mime causes are the impact of foreign entertainments — both live and movies. The I.C.T. Super highway of the Globalization Age has built a borderless global village, Myanmar is no exception to fall victim to the bad impact of this Age.
Myanmar Anyeint today becomes all night variety show, including short plays, puppets, magic, stage circus, pop, hip hop songs and dance, and music of all sorts. Songs are hush, jokey, sarcastic, politically and socially satirical, and. sometimes obscene. Dancers wear vulgar dresses; make jerky or acrobatic movements, yell out songs not easily understandable. Comedians make mockery instead of mimicry, polemics instead of satire and obscenities instead of jokes.
However there are efforts being made by the state by NGOs or by private volunteers to revive typical Myanmar Anyeint and bring it back to stage. Myawaddy Anyeint is one outstanding effort of today. A few weeks ago Myanmar Radio and Television MRTV has launched a series of Myanmar Anyeint live show on the screen reviving and re-enacting the Anyeints of Okkala Aye Kyi, Ma Ngwe Myaing, Liberty Ma Mya Yin, Hla Galay Sein, Daw Au Bar Thaung and many others. We heartily welcome this launch. They should be preserved in the libraries and archives.
(Myanmar performing artists ought to know the following performing arts terms given in the lexicons and dictionaries, should they want to adapt them into Myanmar Performing Arts.)
Opera = A form of theatrical presentation in a dramatic performance is set to music
Operatta = A theatrical production that has many of the musical elements of opera, but is lighter and more popular in subject and style and contains spoken dialogue. (Italian)
Orchestra = A large groups of musicians who play together on various musical instruments, usually including strings, woodwinds, brass instruments and percussion instruments.
Ballad = A narrative poem, after of folk origin and intended to be sung, consisting of simple stanza and usually having a recurrent refrain. A popular sing, romantic or sentimental
Ballet = An artistic dance form characterized by grance and precision of movement and an elaborate formal technique. A theatrical presentation of group or solo dancing in a musical accompaniment using costume and scenic affects and converging a story, theme or atmosphere.
Cabaret = A restaurant or night club providing short programs of live entertainment. The flow show billed by a cabaret.
Clown = A buffoon or jester who entertains by jokes, antics, and tricks in a circus, plays or ethic presentation
Jester = At medieval court jesters were kept to provoke amusement and laughter