No laughing matter, this!
Let me get one thing straight, my range on “what to laugh on” is quite wide. Anything triggers it, a non-veg (but good) joke, stiff upper-lip British parodies, Puneri Patya or KRK’s films. With my levels of insanity settled, I wish to regal you on a ‘serious’ issue. Few days back, the I&B ministry found two shows on Comedy Central to be offensive and vulgar and thus the court banned the channel for 10 days. Without getting into much details, let’s discuss of why the Indian sense of humour has still not risen to the state where we can laugh seriously at ourselves without getting offended. Also, why are our sitcoms just not up to the mark and suffer from sewer complex (meaning they suck).
I always wondered and fought with myself over the exact meaning of obscene or vulgar content. While one would agree that some content does cross the line and is totally crass, most of the time, it is all a matter of outlook. What I find funny might be offending to the person next to me. And mostly it is offending to the person next to him and others too. So till the time everyone is on the same plane about the obscenity level, chances are a good but filled with double entendre joke needs to be handled with care. Just one question though, if what is being offered on Comedy Central is offensive, what are we going to do about B-Grade Hindi films or even the so-called big banner films which are disturbing in every sense?
ARE WE FUNNY?
It is an honest observation that Indians are probably the best source for much laughter. Right from our idiosyncrasies to the way we talk and look at things to…just about everything, we are a walking talking laughter jukebox and yet we cannot stand being laughed and ridiculed at.
I agree when people say only Parsis and Punjabis have their funny bones intact. Just look at the number of Bawaji trademarks being made fun of and you cannot help loving this clan as much as you love their Dhansak. Some of the best “funny brains” come from this community – Cyrus Broacha, Boman Irani, or your next door Uncle Rusti trying to reason with you. The legendary Santa Banta jokes have managed to cross the Narmada and make inroads in the South Indian hinterland.
Unlike in the Western hemisphere where a certain degree of maturity has reached when dealing with humour on religion and public figures, it is an ongoing process here which cannot be answered at the moment.
SHOW IT TO US
Finally, the question arises, why we cannot produce one decent sitcom on television? What we see around masquerading as sitcoms are washed down slapstick versions. The last time we were showered with intelligent verbal comedy was in Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai. In the past too, comedies like Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi and Dekh Bhai Dekh became sitcom classics. I am still waiting for the day when we can get some amazing British comedies like Blackadder, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers or even the Not the Nine O’clock News or American ones like 30 Rock being made here. Till then, we are forced depend on English channels to let us survive with a smile.