I’m finally moving to
in June. To study. I’ve been waiting for this for the last two years now and my hunger to get back into a classroom scares me. This I realise is ridiculous because I know I’ll be bitching about everything that’s wrong with studying around a week into my programme - but for now, I can’t wait. In my head, the only place I wanted to be if I had to stay in Bombay was TISS. I’m glad I’m going to be there. So if you’re around, drop by and say hi if security lets you. India
But that’s not what this post is about. This post is to rant about things that have been stifling me when it comes to stand up comedy, how I view it, how I feel about it, my place within the “industry”, its role within our social structures and how we view it. And it’s also the reason I’m stopping myself from blogging somewhat because I can’t seem to move ahead with it till I have this resolved in my head.
I’m pissed off that we don’t have an original voice in
- anywhere. We don’t have anyone who speaks truth to power. All we delve in is safe stereotypes about things we know the audience we like. We know saying bhenchod will make people laugh. We know every comic in India Bombay will diss and make a rape reference and everyone will lap it up. We know no one will make a Muslim joke because they’re afraid of how it might be perceived. We will makes jokes about bra sizes and how Bengalis read and Punjabis abuse and spend money and the same old clusterfuck of template based mediocrity that has permeated the entire system while we crib about what we see on TV is even worse. There is no Bruce or Hicks. Everyone’s running around in circles making the same old pointless jokes which don’t break any new ground but we do them because we’re safe and tried and tested because the audience always has to be right when infact they don’t because they don’t have as much of an academic understanding of shape or form or technique. We tell jokes to get into the public eye so someone offers us a TV writing gig where we end up peddling the same shit we claim to not be able to stand. Maybe we just don’t have the ability, or maybe we’re just too comfortable knowing we work not because we’re great but because everyone else around us sucks even worse. There is no revolution. With everything going on around us, there is no push back. No counter culture. Fuck, no culture. And on top of that we have idiots peddling morality and what is humane and what should be spoken about and what shouldn’t because that is what we’re bloody best at – preaching morality, resisting change and then going back to cribbing about status quo for it being shit. Delhi
Comics are insecure beings. They forget to laugh at other comics because all they’re doing is analyzing what is making a joke and audience tick. They say shit like they’re in it for the laughter but that is mostly not true. There might be nothing wrong in peddling jokes that make people laugh but have no soul to them – but they make no difference, influence no behaviour and eventually you die a miserable death with no one to bloody remember you. And I am starting to feel that I am falling into similar traps. Where has the ruthlessness gone? Why can’t comics be angry at things around them because they’re afraid of pissing off an audience? Where are audiences willing to be open to facing adversaries on stage instead of punchline inducing slot machines? Where is the lack of fear that allows people to cut loose without giving a shit about whether the audience laughs or not? Why are lameass puns and shitty wordplays considered comic genius? Why do people still do voices when they’ve been done to death 20 years ago? Why are comics not discussing ideas instead of plying SMS barbs? Why does there have to be a choice between going mainstream and talking about things you want to talk about? Why do people bring 3 year old kids to open mic nights knowing full well they’ll start crying and the comic not allowed to tell the kid to fuck off and grow up with some character? Why do comics keep a water bottle next to them and pretend to drink from it in a 10 minute set when talking to people on the phone for 40 minutes invokes no such reaction?
I know I’m being judgemental and I know our scene hasn’t evolved as much – but I’m pissed at having fallen for all if not most of everything I have stated above and that to my conscience is just not acceptable. None of us is a goddamn comic. We’re just a bunch of punchline peddlers hoping to run away from our inner voices hoping the gleaming lights of acceptability where our desire to always be loved by everyone distracts us from listening to it. We talk about change and influence and making people think hard about issues but we do nothing. What we do now is not what comedy is about. Or maybe it is – but I’m not comfortable with how it defines itself and where it seems to be stuck.
Today I chose to not get eaten up by this shit – and god help me if I don’t do everything within my power to bloody break it.
Rant over. Thanks.