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Don’t give us cheap laughs in the name of Comedy

The art of making people laugh has always been valued. From court jesters like Tenali Raman and one of the Navratnas of Akbar i.e. Birbal to Charlie Chaplin’s silent vaudevilles to the new-age comedians like Russell Peters and our very own rags-to-riches comedy czar of TVville- Kapil Sharma, comedy has spread its wings in many more arenas and fields. Comedy is an undervalued profession. Although there are many stand-up comedians today, the level and the quality of the laughs produced from the current comedy shows have undergone a major transformation.

Russell Peters stormed the western arena of stand-up comedy by his superb analysis of races and racial bias. By taking the joke upon himself and thus, the race of the ‘brown-skinned ones’ (no offence!)  to which he belongs, he managed to have the audience in splits what with his bashing of people of every possible skin color.

I like to call him the derma-comedian since he is so obsessed with people’s skin color and how it affects their behavior. Then there is Mr. Bean-the famed Rowan Atkinson who is one of the most loved and awarded comedian-actors of all time.

Such high standards of comedy probably put our comedians back home in grave distress. They fret about whether they would be able to dish out any cool stuff like that. After all, we have Indian versions of Knight and Day, ET etc. but

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Do we have an Indian ‘Friends’ yet? Or a TBBT? Or a ‘How I met your mother’?

Well, it is not easy to make people laugh. And as history is witness, laughter emerges from a blend of happenstance, fun as well as some amount of thought or satire.

Now let us shift to the Indian scene of comedy shows. We started out with The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. It was worth applauding. If there is an ‘Indian Idol’ for singers, a ‘Jhalak Dikhla Jaa’ or ‘Nach Baliye’ for dancers or even ‘India’s Got Talent’ (please note: all the above were somehow inspired by their western counterparts), why shouldn’t there be a TGILC for aspiring comedians? Soon, we saw a horde of stand-up comedians assembling from all parts of the country to showcase their talent.

This show was merely a prelude to a new show- ‘The Comedy Circus’ on Sony, that saw judges like Archana Puran Singh, Rohit Shetty and even Suhail Khan laughing at jokes, dissecting them and selecting people based on their decisions. This show was in turn an impetus for the now household show that has almost taken the place of daily soaps- ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’. The winner and the star of the Sony program led to the emergence of this show which now invites biggies and the to-be biggies of the film industry to make jokes at their expense, garner publicity and of course, raise TRPs.

But the standard of the jokes has been reduced to slapstick comedy and mutual insult that does not merit any use of the intellect or wit as comedy ought to. Most of the laughs in the show are due to jokes like: a man dressed as a woman and mimicking a woman, someone falling over a banana peel and making people laugh or some lame joke made by the comedy badshah-Kapil himself on the looks of some pretty actress or Sidhhu’s bellowing guffaws or some such cheap insinuation.

The triteness of the remarks manages to just bring a smile to our face, no laugh, not even a giggle. Seriously, where are those good comedy shows that made us laugh till we cry? Why do we have to endure these cheap laughs in the name of comedy?

About Aashisha Chakraborty

Aashisha Chakraborty is a computer science engineer, currently working in an IT firm. She is a freelance writer, poet and a blogger. She hopes to reach out to the masses via the written word. A trained Kathak dancer, she has tried her hand at myriad fields throughout her student years ranging from drama, dance, music, art to coding, debating, quizzing and organizing events. She is inspired by Ayn Rand and her all-time favourite books are Fountainhead and Gone With The Wind.

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