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Triggering a laugh riot

From the Marvellous Mrs. Maisel to the incredible Kenny Sebastian, there is no denying that comedy continues to lighten us up and add some much-needed cheer to our mundane lives. Stand-up comedy, as a genre, has flourished in the age of the Internet, specifically due to the rise of YouTube and OTT platforms.

It is interesting to note a paradigm shift in the scope of comedy and understand audience expectations in the new and “woke” age that we live in. TV shows have transformed from having largely white, heterosexual characters along with outdated comedy that draws laughs by stereotyping people (The Big Bang Theory, Seinfield, Friends, and so on) to refreshing comedy with diverse casting that takes an active stance against homophobia, racism and xenophobia (Brooklyn Nine Nine, The Good Place and so on)

Stand-up comedy is not lagging in its wokeness. Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette (2018) was a deeply personal account of growing up gay in a small Australian town and it managed to be both incredibly funny and painfully arresting. Hasan Minhaj’s Homecoming King (2017), which drew largely from his experience of growing up brown in America, was both gritty and hilarious. A slew of first and second-generation immigrants continues to shine on the stand-up comedy stage worldwide (Aziz Ansari, Trevor Noah, Ali Wong, to name a few).

Closer home, stand-up comedy has diversified and has been adapted to suit the preferences of the many regional audiences that India has.

In the Indian stand-up sphere, Aravind SA has been one of the prominent proponents of “Brand Madras” ever since his Chapati song (Lungi Dance parody) went viral on YouTube. In his latest Prime special, I was not ready da, he counters myriad issues among which is the imposition of Hindi. The movement against the imposition of Hindi in Tamil Nadu has historic roots and the sentiment continues to find a strong base among people in the State. In the special, Aravind shares hilarious anecdotes and uses Tamil cuss words most liberally. But often, he makes sobering remarks on “burning” issues. For instance, he mentions that he is not hating the idea of learning other languages but is against “the idea of learning another language at the expense of your mother tongue”.

It is laudable that new-age comedians are relentless in their critiquing of age-old practices and discriminatory beliefs. Some may take issue with comedians taking a stance on political issues but as an eminent professor once said, “If you have a voice that is privileged enough to be heard, make sure you say something that makes a difference.”

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 7:54:12 PM |

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