Srimulat: a Traditional Comedy Show from Indonesia

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Alma Dhiafira
Member since November 24, 2015
  • 9 Posts

Eko Londo, one of the famous Srimulat actor and I

Eko Londo, one of the famous Srimulat actor and I

As a former Rotary Youth Exchange Student, I would like to say, “Sometimes if we seek outside too much, we forget how rich we are at home”.

A couple of weeks ago, somebody invited me to watch Srimulat, a traditional comedy show from Surabaya. It was a very famous show but these days it seems the popularity gets beaten by TV Shows or Telenovelas. There’s a reason why somethings trend while others do not and I wanted to know what is going on with Srimulat. But before I made up my opinion, I had to watch the show.

It was on Saturday night, first of April, just two weeks before the national exam so I figured out I need a refreshment. I wanted something more than just going to a mall or hanging out in the cafe. It was my first time to watch the show and I came with no expectations or any information about it. I just knew it is an iconic comedy show from Surabaya. 15 minutes before the show the seats were almost full and just before the show to started, the remaining seats were filled and there were many people who sat on the floor so they could watch clearly.

The show started with a band who performed English, Surabaya’s, Dangdut, and Indonesian songs. They were very attractive with a modern look. Many people thought that traditional performance usually has tacky look, but I didn’t find that kind of look there.

The show continued with drama, a story called “Cinta Terlarang” or Forbidden Love. Marfuah asked approval of Insaf’s parent to marry him. So she came to Insaf’s house. She had a silly personality which caused some hilarious conflict. She met his parents, an ex-lover who wanted him back, and his grandparents. At the end his grandmother didn’t approve of their relationship, so Marfuah mother who passed away came to haunt the family. Yeah, the Srimulat doesn’t feel complete if there’s no funny ghost appearance in the show.

It was a very simple story, yet their acting and dialogue made it hilarious. The actors have the abilities to engage the audience with the story and the audience was not afraid to laugh loudly. They had a very simple stage set up: a sofa, two chairs, and a red table. Those represented the living room. They used traditional language, and perhaps, this is the reason why Srimulat can't be for everyone. Yes, it's great to use traditional language to reach local communities better, but it's harder to reach a new audiences.

What interests me is that they also bring up trending issues into the story. Insaf’s family had a maid called Eko who was a foreign worker. But when he went to work for the family, he had to use Indonesian and traditional language, and also had to know and respect Indonesian culture. I think it's very contemporary issue: globalization makes it easier for people easier to find jobs across the country, but if you can't tolerate and respect the local culture, it will be hard to blend in and it can cause clashes between foreigners and natives.

I would like to voices my appreciation to Surabaya's government for hosting this kind of event. A cultural show performed in a neat way so I can continue my family tradition comfortably. Apparently, my late grandpa loved to watch Srimulat. My mom said whenever he went to Surabaya, he always went to watch it. I hope the tradition continues, not just within my family but to other families as well.

In the end, comedy is created based on each region’s culture so every country has their own style of comedy. A good and smart comedy makes people happy. Happy citizen makes a happy country.

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