City University of Hong Kong


Vivek Mahbubani

  • BA Creative Media


  • Vivek Mahbubani is a Hong Kong-bred bi-lingual stand-up comedian (www.funny performing in both Cantonese and English. Having been crowned the Funniest Person (in Chinese) in Hong Kong in 2007 followed by his victory in the English category at the Hong Kong International Comedy Competition in 2008, Vivek has had the opportunity to take his sense of humor all over Asia including Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia and India. When not doing comedy, Vivek is a freelance web designer running his own business ( and plays drums for his loud, metal band Eve of Sin ( One of Vivek's passions is reading and his favorite book is Sun Tzu's Art of War. Oddly, his favorite color is hot pink.

Vivek Mahbubani (BA Creative Media)

Laughing with yourself

Laughter is the best medicine. Or at least that’s what a lot of people believe. Laughter has been proven to promote health by lowering blood pressure, reduce stress, improve blood flow and even help fight colds.

Yes that’s right, according to this theory. The next time you sneeze, write a joke on a tissue paper then use that to wipe your nose.

Everybody enjoys a good laugh, but most people don’t believe they can make themselves or someone else laugh, causing a lack of supply for a never-ending demand.

The truth is, everybody is funny. The challenge isn’t living a funny life. It is noticing all the funny things around you. Think of it this way, everything in life, whether they are interesting, boring or annoying is like a radio frequency. It is going on around us whether we like it or not, but if we don’t tune our radios to that particular channel, we won’t be able to hear it.

Our minds work just like radios. If you told yourself, today I’m going to notice everything that is purple, you will suddenly realize that the world around you is very, very purple. So in the same way, if you tune your mind to notice everything that is funny, you should notice a lot of funny things.

Now you might be thinking to yourself but my life is very mundane, there is nothing funny. You’d probably be right, because funny is often the product of something interesting and a bit of creativity combined.

Funny = Interesting x Creativity

Now if you re-tuned your mind to notice all the interesting things around you, suddenly it becomes much easier. Why? Because whether something is interesting to you is a very personal opinion. It doesn’t have to be interesting to someone else. For example, let’s take a look at the pictures below:

When I first saw this car with the license plate MR V, I found it very interesting so I took a picture of it. Was it funny? No, but it was very interesting. When I showed others this picture, they didn’t find it funny and no one, including myself, laughed.

Then suddenly one day (many weeks later), I saw another car with the license plate MR T, I took a picture of it. It still wasn’t funny, but it was interesting. When I showed my friends this picture, they thought it was interesting, but they didn’t laugh.

When I got home and I put both the pictures together, I noticed something about them, and I concluded “clearly MR V is more successful than MR T because MR V is driving a Benz which is more expensive”. I laughed at this idea. When I told someone else my observation, they laughed too.

Remember, when I took the pictures, I took them not because they were funny but because they were interesting. When I put the photos together, I added some creativity and connected them and made up something funny about them.

As I discussed earlier, I had my mind tuned into the frequency of I want to notice all the interesting things around me. I noticed these two cars not because I have a special talent or equipment, I noticed it because it was unusual, thus interesting. Ask yourself, haven’t you noticed many unusual and interesting things before?

Ultimately by learning to observe the world around yourself and tuning your mind to a certain frequency (eg. I want to notice interesting things), you will find that your world isn’t as boring as you think.

Learning to observe the world around you is like breathing, once you develop this ability, you do it subconsciously, so you don’t even need any extra effort. To help you get started, here is a simple set of daily exercises you can do for one week:

  • Monday: Notice 10 things during your day that are purple colored
  • Tuesday: Notice 10 things during your day that are triangular
  • Wednesday: Notice 10 signs that have an arrow in them.
  • Thursday: Notice 10 fire hydrants that have stickers on them
  • Friday: Notice 10 vehicles whose license plate with only even numbers (eg. TA 2842 or XX 8664 are correct, TD 8421 is wrong)
  • Saturday: Enjoy your day, our brains need rest too
  • Sunday: Notice 10 things that are red colored and rectangular shaped

After you’ve done one week of these simple exercises, you’ll have developed the habit of observing the world around you.

However, when you observe something, you often see it in that moment and move on. Remember how my MR V and MR T license plate photos were only funny when I put both the pictures together? Here comes exercise two. We should observe and record. So for another week, you can repeat the above exercise but this time, get your phone/camera out and take a picture of each item you notice. At the end of the week, put all the photos you took on your computer and look at them together. You may not find anything funny about them initially, but at least it’s a great record to remind you that unlike before, this week, you chose to make your life interesting.