Thailand’s Mr. Bean plays jails for laughs

Mongkol Preechajan interacts with prison inmates as the popular British TV comedy character Mr. Bean in the central Thai province of Nakhon Nayok. (AFP)
Updated 15 February 2018
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Thailand’s Mr. Bean plays jails for laughs

NAKHON NAYOK, Thailand: With the signature red tie, brown blazer, briefcase and teddy bear, a Thai computer technician has become a national sensation through his uncanny Mr. Bean impersonations that are tickling a country that loves slapstick comedy.
Mongkol PreecHajjan, a 43-year-old father from Phuket with more than a passing resemblance to the British character played by Rowan Atkinson, shot to fame after trying out the miming routine on the popular “Thailand’s Got Talent” TV show in 2016.
The video went viral — one YouTube clip has been watched over five million times — turning Mongkol into an overnight celebrity in a country where Mr. Bean is among the most popular foreign comic turns, in part because his speechless routines cut through language barriers.
Now Mongkol tours Thailand performing sketches and posing for selfies as the famously buffoonish character.
Mongkol said his fascination with Mr. Bean started as a teenager, when he became a fan of the British show and the character’s “cheeky and cute personality.”
He has since spent hours twisting his face and arching his eyebrows in front of a mirror to hone Mr. Bean’s trademark expressions.
“It’s quite hard because Mr. Bean doesn’t speak and only communicates through his facial expressions and his body movements — that was really hard to practice,” Mongkol said.
In addition to Bangkok comedy gigs and TV spots, the newfound celebrity is also performing at jails around the country in a bid to brighten up prison life.
A recent performance brought him to Nakhon Nayok province, where hundreds of inmates roared with laughter as he jittered around the stage with his iconic teddy bear.
“There were a lot of laughs,” one inmate said after the show. “It has lightened up the mood here a lot.”


California students given cookies baked with grandfather’s ashes: media

Updated 3 min ago
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California students given cookies baked with grandfather’s ashes: media

LOS ANGELES: A teenage girl in California allegedly baked her grandfather’s ashes into cookies and handed them out to her school friends, local media reported on Wednesday.
The student is said to have given her baked goods to at least nine students, the Los Angeles Times said, citing police in Davis, near the state capital Sacramento.
Some ate the cookies without knowing about the macabre extra ingredient and were horrified, Lt. Paul Doroshov said, according to the Times.
In a bizarre twist, others among the Da Vinci Charter Academy students were fully aware and ate the cookies anyway, Doroshov told the newspaper, adding that he found the claims credible.
Student Andy Knox told local television station KCRA he was on his way into class when the unidentified young baker offered him one of her treats saying they contained a “special ingredient.”
“I thought that she put drugs in it or something. So I asked her if like, ‘Is this a weed cookie or something?’” he was quoted as saying.
“And she said ‘No.’ She said it was her grandpa’s ashes. And then she kind of laughed. And I was really, I was kind of horrified.”
Police are investigating the October 4 incident, according to multiple media reports, but have not made any arrests or taken action against the girl.
The Davis Joint Unified School District said in a statement its students were safe and there was “no health risk” to anyone involved.
“This recent case has been particularly challenging and we have responded appropriately and in the most respectful and dignified way possible,” it went on.
“Those who were involved are remorseful and this is now a personal family matter and we want to respect the privacy of the families involved.”