Man at His Best

Harith Iskander crash-tests his ego

And tells you why Malaysians have a special name for reverse gear

BY Editors | Sep 28, 2017 | Film & TV

One side, Clarkson. | Photo courtesy of HISTORY

Harith Iskander, goodfella of Malaysian stand-up, was officially named the Funniest Person in the World competition by Laugh Factory just last year. He recently worked with the History channel for season two of Celebrity Car Wars. Crash of the egos, says the tag line. We asked him about playing crash test dummy but that was deemed insensitive! What the? (Spoiler ahead.) Here's the skinny:


ESQUIRE: Do you win the Reverse Slalom? Malaysia invented gostan, isn’t it? How important is gostan in your life? Are you good at gostan?

HARITH ISKANDER: Gostan is very important to a Malaysian, because we always get ourselves in trouble – so we need to know how to get out! In the reverse challenge though, I came second.

ESQ: Do you think it’s appropriate to name a car Godzilla? What are the names of your cars, and what kind of relationship do you have with them?

HI: The Nissan GTR we used in the show was called ‘Godzilla’, and I think that was appropriate because it is a Japanese car. So we can’t name a Malaysian car Godzilla, we call it ‘Sang Kancil’. My relationship with my car now - it’s a car to carry my family. Once you have kids, you don’t have a car anymore, you have a ‘people traveller’.

I don’t name my cars anymore because, well, I’m 50 years old, but I did when I was younger! I called my first car B.B. King, because I liked the blues, and B.B. King was a blues singer. My car was blue as well!  

ESQ: Does a celebrity ask for directions when he’s lost?

HI: Now we have Waze!

One thing good about Malaysian’s though, no matter who you stop, when you ask someone for directions, they will give you directions – even if they have no idea where you are going! How many times in the days before Waze have I stopped and asked an uncle for directions, and he tells me to go here and go there – in the end there is nothing there! Turns out the uncle has no idea where I’m going, but he just goes “straight, and then at the pokok you turn left,” and then I’m headed in the wrong direction -- because Malaysians are like that, they will give you directions, and never tell you that they don’t know.

(L-R) Guy Ratchanont, Jarrod Schulz, Phoemela Baranda, Dominic Lau, Aerin Yuktadatta, Harith Iskander. | Photo courtesy of HISTORY.

ESQ: Which celebrity would you be the least worried about to ride shotgun with?

HI: Least worried? I’d have to say Phoemela, only because she is also quite mature. Comparing the others, Jarrod is crazy, Aerin is crazy, Guy is also crazy, Dom is crazyAll are crazy! Aerin was crashing all the time, Guy was crashing into other people all the time, Jarrod crashed into me, so Phoemela became my teammate – because sometimes we are in teams, and I trust her.

ESQ: If you were a self-driving car, where would you go?

HI: Without my wife looking, I would go to a fast-food place. If my wife were to catch me, I’d tell her it wasn’t me – it was the car, I didn’t order this burger!

ESQ: Hot laps; if you do a hot lap, does this make you a hottie?

HI: I was actually one of the worst at the hot laps, so I guess I’m actually quite a ‘coldie’.


Celebrity Car Wars Season 2 airs Mondays at 9.55pm on History (Astro Ch 555 & HD 575).