Chennai stands up for comedy

The courtyard of the Phoenix Mall, Velachery, which is usually filled with window-shoppers hanging around to watch live cricket games on the giant screen, played host to a night of stand-up comedy, ‘Laugh Ok Please’, presented by evam entertainment, a popular theatre company in Chennai.

Six stand-up comedians, three from North India and three from the South, kept the audience in splits for the most part by presenting jokes about race, body shapes, gender and so on through their own lenses informed by their dominant social identity: Jeevenshu Ahluwalia made jokes about being fat and Punjabi, Aditi Mittal, dubbed India’s best female stand-up comic, chose to put the roadside Romeos to shame as she joked, quite illuminatingly, about sexual harassment, S. Aravind about the absurdity of conforming to the TamBrahm ethos and so on.

The full house perhaps suggested what the adamant Indian stand-up comics have been saying all along: that they are pushing the envelope in terms of content. We’ll have to give them that because, perhaps for the first time in Tamil Nadu, Super Star’s Kochadaiiyaan was thrashed in public (it was compared to Super Mario Bros).

The first to come on stage was S. Aravind, who started by comparing Hard Rock Café to Ratna Café for not serving alcohol. He then went on to talk about pet TamBrahm topics: working in the corporate sector, being a software engineer, the concept of arranged marriage and the idiosyncrasies of a Tamil Brahmin family. All these jokes, of course, were delivered with a typical and pronounced TamBrahm accent.

Following him was an overweight Jeeveshu, who began by making jokes about fat people and Punjabis. Some of the jokes landed smoothly, some fell flat. Aditi Mittal quickly turned things around as she presented a series of jokes about how men appear when they are cat-calling a girl. While it was funny and offered a chance to reflect, she then stuck to jokes that are now considered a staple for a female stand-up comic: on menstruation and maxi-pad advertisements.  

The ‘America Mappillai’ Karthik Kumar took it upon himself to raise the stakes by opting to give a quick review of Kochadaiiyaan.

Sorabh Pant gave the most consistent performance of the evening as he covered a number of topics; from the weakness of Punjabi men (white women), politeness of Tamil people to how Indian men don’t have what it takes to pick up women. Going by the audience’s reaction, they were in splits; especially when he spoke about that harmlessly named folder that most Indian men have on their laptops.

The last to perform on stage was Naveen Richard, the half-Tamil and half-Malayali, now living in Bangalore, who couldn’t stop himself from making fun of Malayalis and their cooking and drinking habits. The appreciation from the audience was yet another piece of the evidence that Chennai is, finally, lightening up. 

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 6:40:53 PM |

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