Who are they: Rice and Shark
Age: Mid-Late 20s
First, it was The Noose. Then, it was New Nation. Today, The Pressing Times has taken on the mantle of being Singapore’s number one source for broken – not breaking – news. The Instagram account specialises in satirical stories about the Singaporean zeitgeist and is run by the semi-anonymous duo Rice and Shark. From articles reporting that Singapore is not ready for a Scorpio Prime Minister to unironically promoting hydration and eye exercises, no stone is left unturned and no one is spared.
Rice and Shark recently took some time out of their busy schedules crafting witty headlines to let us into their lives, sharing with us their favourite TV show, drawing the line between satire and offence, and what exactly is so pressing about today’s times.
1. What are some of your hobbies?
Shark: It varies from time to time. Currently going down the rabbit hole of MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) games and inching my way back into comic drawing.
Rice: Boxing and yoga on ClassPass. Super cool. Also got into pottery a few months back. Making a lot of rice bowls though. I’ve got an abundance of them at home. Scenario: He’s a 10 but has way too many rice bowls in his room.
2. What is your favourite food spot in Singapore, and what do you like about it?
Rice: I really like Gyoza no Ohsho. Crispy skin. Juicy meat. Very good.
The gyozas from Gyoza no Osho.
Image credit: @ohsho_sg
Shark: Asking me this question is like asking a parent who their favourite child is. Thankfully I have a favourite child, and that is Song Kee Fishball Noodles. Fell in love with the her giao (fish dumplings) on the first bite.
3. What is your favourite movie/TV show and why do you like it?
Rice: Movie: Spider-Man: No Way Home. Because I love the webhead. And because Andrew Garfield—in a good Spidey script.
Honourable mentions: Toy Story 2, The Big Shot, Spider-Man 2, Spirited Away, Inception, Whiplash.
TV show: The Office. I love dry humour. I’ve watched it 9 times and counting.
Honourable mentions: Hannibal, Bojack Horseman, The Boys, Black Mirror, Mindhunter, Arcane.
Shark: One of my favourite movies is The Truman Show. It has the perfect balance between being thought-provoking and comedic (even more than 20 years later). As for TV shows – like every other millennial – I love The Office.
4. Three words that people use to describe you:
Rice: People have DMed in saying Rice is funny, a genius, and a blessing. Oh, please. Stop it. But go on.
Shark: Depends on who you ask.
The authors of The Pressing Times adapted their monikers from these two cats Shark (left) and Rice (right).
Image credit: The Pressing Times
5. Three words you’d use to describe yourselves:
Rice: Hard-working, alpha male, jackhammer. Merciless. Insatiable. (Please get this reference if not I just seem like an egotistical ass who can’t follow instructions.)
Editor’s note: It’s a reference to this for the uninitiated.
Shark: Depends on when you ask.
6. Who are some other content creators that inspire you?
Rice: We’ve had the pleasure of picking The Woke Salaryman’s brains a few times. Our friendly banters with Just Media Things online have been super fun too. Big fan of The Daily Ketchup and their discussions. Otherwise, looking overseas: Key and Peele, Kurzgesagt, Polymatter, Casually Explained, Julie Nolke, Vinny, itstinacolada, Jane Wickline, and not forgetting our bible, @theonion.
Shark: Apart from the local creators that we look up to, I’ve also been enjoying the skits from Fairbairn Films. Their Powerpoint presentation series is hilarious.
7. What is your day job, and why did you decide to start The Pressing Times?
Rice: I’m a copywriter by day and a head full of bad ideas all year round. I love The Onion and have always wanted to emulate their work locally. Messaged Shark one day out of the blue about starting a satire publication. She said okay. Joke’s on her because now she has to defend the nation from my shitty jokes.
The beginnings of The Pressing Times.
Image credit: Rice
Shark: I’m a social media strategist by day and an enabler all year round.
8. What was the most memorable moment in your career?
Rice: Whenever people DM in, telling us how they’ve had a rough week and our content really made their day. Feels good to make other people feel good. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Shark: Dressing up as a ghost for a client’s TikTok. And with TPT, going viral for the first time.
9. What is so pressing about today’s times?
Shark: According to news and social media, many things.
Rice: It do be like that.
10. Which articles have been the most fun for you to create?
Shark: We did a series of photo posts last year for Halloween based on the idea of ironic costumes. We stayed up until 4am to do that, but that was fun.
Rice: And it was a spur-of-the-moment thing too! We had a few headlines we wanted to run and thought: why not just produce all of them? Special mention to our ‘LEAKED’ series. The idea that our government officials could have a Close Friends List and rant about their day/job in small fonts, just like everyone else, tickles me.
11. Which article are you the proudest of?
Shark: A recent one that I really like is the photo series around the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. Please see the caption for that piece to understand why.
Also, special mention to our first sponsored post with Ergotune! Collabs are tough because people aren’t generally receptive to it, so we wanted to make sure that the marriage between our humour and the brand message was clear and not off-putting. Super thankful to Jozua and Fanny for trusting us!
Rice: Bless Ergotune. Also: Kai Kai & Jia Jia staying childfree. I really hate puns, but we managed to strike a brilliant balance between cheesy humour while still addressing the worries of having a kid today.
12. Have any of your articles become real or close to reality?
Shark: We’re really (likely) not getting a Scorpio Prime Minister.
Rice: Ya, that one. It was written before Heng Swee Keat stepped down from [the PM nominations], who, coincidentally, is a Scorpio.
A sample article that shows Rice and Shark’s collaborative process.
Image credit: The Pressing Times
13. Are there topics you have wanted to write about but deemed too controversial?
Shark: No topics are off-limits – yet – as long as the point is fair and the joke is absurd enough. Rice has a dark sense of humour, so the really dark jokes usually don’t pass my filter (sorry folks).
Rice: What she said. I guarantee we’d be cancelled if people saw our Headlines Dump channel on Telegram. Luckily I have a state-of-the-art strainer otherwise known as a Shark.
14. What do you think is the most challenging aspect of writing satire?
Shark: Making sure we have a fair point.
Rice: Making sure that it’s funny enough.
15. What are your thoughts on doom scrolling?
Shark: There’s a reason why they call it doom scrolling. Working as a social media content creator AND strategist means you have to know what is trending, what people are talking about, etc. I try to maintain some healthy boundaries by setting a time limit on my social media apps.
Rice: I’m not doom scrolling. I can stop whenever I want to. I just don’t want to.
Image credit: @thepressingtimes.sg
16. How do you draw the line between satire and offence?
Rice: We try to punch up. Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.
Shark: Technically they are not on the same spectrum. Satire can be offensive or non-offensive, depending on who you’re asking – what each person finds offensive is subjective. It’s important to distinguish the subject and the target of the joke.
17. Do you think Singaporeans are receptive to satire?
Rice: Yes. We had The Noose before, then New Nation, and now we’re holding the torch. Even beyond us, there’s so much local content that is already satirical in nature!
Shark: As for TPT, we can’t definitively say yes until we reach the larger majority of Singaporeans, but so far the reception has been good.
18. Has anyone tried to sue you?
Shark: Do or do not, there is no try. And we would strongly recommend not to do so.
Rice: But should you want to, you can send us an email at email@example.com. We will try to reply within 5-55 working days.
19. Would you think about expanding The Pressing Times beyond a 2-man operation?
Shark: Actually, we have a 3rd person (Hantu) who contributes angles and photos once in a while. We’d only grow the team once we’re confident that we have the right business and operational structure for it.
Rice: Ya. Unfortunately, he has decided that his wife is more important than us so we’ve temporarily ended our friendship with him until we need his Photoshop skills again. Hantu’s awesome. Also, it’ll be really cool to expand regionally too but let’s get Singapore right first.
20. What’s next for The Pressing Times?
Rice: We wanna try doing short-form video content. Reels, Tiktoks. We also want to do some work with Uniqlo. Please.
Shark: We’ll carry on our mission to get more people to sit straight and hydrate.
Rice: Yes. Do it now.
The Pressing Times website
The Pressing Times Instagram
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Cover image adapted from: The Pressing Times